Farmer Focus: Lack of moisture stresses plants and delays drilling

It has been interesting watching oilseed rape struggle through this dry start to the new cropping year.

We took great care with whatever system of establishment we used on the day to conserve moisture, and germination has been quite good – although the ongoing lack of moisture is clearly stressing both myself and the plants.

Wheat drilling has been a sporadic affair, with some kinder blocks drilled, and some left waiting for significant rain.

I have loaded out nearly all the Solstice for my Openfield/Warburtons autumn contract. The quality is good with just the occasional modest protein deduction, which has become a problem with the high yields achieved over the past two years.

It was with mixed feelings that I got up early the other day to prepare for a live radio interview for the Today programme on Radio 4 – I am not at my best in the morning. But, after several coffees, I managed to give a positive farmer response to the DEFRA Safeguarding our Soils report published that day.

While the report did flag up some issues with past treatment of soils, and the need to address ongoing issues, there was much to be positive about.

I was pleased to see modern agricultural practice acknowledged for its significant steps forward in recent years, and it will be good if all the talk of further research, training and land protection moves become a reality. Global food production needs to double by 2050, which is clearly going to need a highly developed form of agriculture that is profitable, sustainable and responsible.

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