Farmer Focus: Frustrated with mobile phone coverage

Preparation for next harvest is well under way, with oilseed rape being established in two ways – first the usual method of V-form and OSR packer, with liquid fertiliser behind the subsoiler leg, and second with my John Deere 750a direct drill as a low-disturbance alternative.

It will be interesting to follow the crop through the year, considering the difference in fuel use, tractor hp requirement and output – the 750a wins on all three, but it isn’t moving the ground to 250mm.

If it goes well, a fertiliser tank will be added for next harvest to save chasing around with the sprayer.

Harvest has been a mixed affair, with brilliant weather to begin with – it looked as if it would be the second year running without using the new dryer – but had a very stop-start finish.

The OSR followed a similarly good-to-poor pattern, with DK Cabernet yields reasonable, but Quartz shocking.

Wheat yields have been good – based on trailer weight estimates and the fact we’ve had to press the four old 80t bins into service to fit it all in.

Unfortunately, the good start to harvest ended just as the fields due to be in OSR next year were ready, so the dryer has been fired up. It’s nothing fancy – a mid-range Ford Mondeo compared with the old low-spec Fiat Panda – but it’s simple and almost nice to use.

At the time of writing, the spring barley had just been rained on, and the winter beans weren’t ready – although combines have been spotted in beans locally, so by the time you read this, harvest could well be finished for another year.

There was an article in Farmers Weekly a few weeks ago about Vodafone mobile phone coverage being poor in rural areas.

Having tried most of the providers, I’ve had to settle for the best of a bad bunch. They all seem pretty awful, and don’t fill you with much confidence for business use – let alone that they’d be usable in an emergency.

I’m hardly in the middle of nowhere, being close to Luton/Bedford and within commuting distance from London – so I dread to think what it’s like elsewhere.

Matt Redman operates an agricultural contracting business and helps out on the family farm at Lower Gravenhurst, Bedfordshire. The 210ha farm grows mainly wheat, oilseed rape and beans.

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