Farmer Focus: Irrigation delays harvest for Bill Davey

Bill Davey – a former Lincolnshire farmer – emigrated to New Zealand six years ago. He grows a wide range of crops including wheat, barley and vining peas and fattens store lambs on 487ha (1200 acres) of the Canterbury Plains on South Island.

Harvest usually kicks off here in early January with dry land perennial ryegrass and winter barley the first crops ready. Not this year, thanks to irrigation which has enabled us to grow a range of higher value crops that are nowhere near ready to harvest. I just hope that we are not faced with a bottleneck situation come early February.

With our own and a neighbour’s harvest we usually put around 1700 acres through one combine which has been manageable up until now given the spread of crop ripening. But 2010 is going to be very different.

It’s mid-January and all we’ve cut is a small area of early sown winter barley with nothing much on the immediate horizon, although we are windrowing Tall Fescue as I write.

Kale for seed production next year has been drilled after vining peas and went in beautifully. Likewise, Kale for winter feed has also been drilled using the Cross Slot drill directly into a two-year-old grass sward after taking a silage cut last month. This was sown at 5kgs/ha accompanied by a good dose of insecticide granules to combat grass grub and porina caterpillar, both looking forward to upsetting our best laid plans.

We intend increasing store lamb numbers this season from around ten to 15 thousand and it made me shudder when I heard that the introduction of Electronic Identification (EID) had recently been made compulsory within the EU. Although not a requirement here at the moment I fear that it soon will be – supermarkets will see to that!

Finally, we are looking to recruit a suitable young person again this May as Barry Williams, one of our current employees, leaves us to further his farming experience in Canada. Drop us an e-mail and CV if this opportunity appeals to you.

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