Farmer Focus: Juggling field progress with weather conditions

Spring work is in full flow here. We haven’t quite got the spring drilling pressure of 12 months ago, thanks to more establishment opportunities during the autumn and winter, which is a relief.

A period of “fool’s spring” at the start of March meant that we were out early, planting potatoes.

Given that we are looking to start harvesting at the end of June it is important that we take the opportunities while they are there.

We weren’t out for many days before we were back in the yard again. Since then progress has been steady.

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While ground conditions appeared good on top, they have taken a while to dry out at depth. This is hardly surprising given the amount of rainfall over the winter.

The dilemma has been to manage progress versus correct conditions – as forcing our soils rarely pays. It’s just solving the question of balance between getting on and getting it right.

Looking around the various blocks of land, most crops look OK, but there are certainly signs of a long wet winter in places.

Not all the cereal fields are looking like the “wall to wall” crop I would like to see – but, all things considered, there is enough to work with.

Recently, I have noted some of the opinion pieces in Farmers Weekly regarding stereotypical attitudes within our industry.

Quite frankly, I’m amazed that we still need to be discussing this in 2021. Within our business we employ women in a number of roles.

The days of hard graft within agriculture are largely gone and there is much more to it than just physical strength – aptitude, ability and attitude are the key success factors now.

I am pleased that we have also been able to offer placement and harvest job opportunities to both male and female students over the past few years.

Whenever we advertise, we expect to get a mix of applicants – and usually do.

The successful one will be whoever comes over best through their application and subsequent interview.

When it comes to students, I find the ability to bend equipment is equal across genders.


Jeremy Oatey manages 1,200ha of arable land near Plymouth in Cornwall and is 2013 Farmers Weekly Arable Farmer of the Year. Cropping includes wheat, barley, OSR, oats, beans, potatoes, onions, swedes and daffodils.

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