FARMER FOCUS: Matt Redman covets drill kit

We could be forgiven for thinking we had slipped back in time 12 months. There is still a vast acreage of wheat yet to be drilled, and here it is no different.

At least the blackgrass is finally coming through ready for a glyphosate spray and we have the knowledge of last year, giving us some confidence that later drilled wheat will still preform reasonably well.

The first wheats have all been drilled, and all have received residual herbicides under pretty good conditions.

We’ve certainly stacked them with Crystal (flufenacet + pendimethalin), vadex (tri-allate) and Liberator (diflufenican + flufenacet) being used at pre, peri- and post-emergence in the worst fields – so far with good results.

I’ve been looking closely at different direct drilling systems and cover crops recently and the more I think about the idea, the more I’d like to add a direct drill to my small machinery fleet. It would have a number of benefits. First, it would mean I have all the kit, other than a combine, that I would need to farm on my own. But, secondly, also it would prove very handy for slotting those late wheat crops into stale seed-beds on the frost, without disturbing too much soil – and blackgrass.

While direct drilling isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, the concept has many attractions – especially to those like myself just starting out who can’t afford to have a yard full of machinery.

The main thing, as with any farming method, is that it’s a different system, so it needs treating and managing differently.

I don’t think it should be ignored because it hasn’t worked before; a better understanding, machinery and practices now mean it has a lot of potential.

Away from farming systems and the weather, I was persuaded to apply for the Worshipful Company of Farmers Leadership Development course taking place in January.

So after a trip to London for the interview, I’m pleased to say I’ve been offered a place, so January’s “holiday” is sorted.

After all, I’m told a change is a good as a break, although there won’t be much rest as it’s a fairly intense, but brilliant course.

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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