Farmer Focus: New band sprayer improves blackgrass control

I am not sure that as I get older I get any wiser. For many years at this point in the season we always suffer crop damage from slugs and pigeons and yet I am still surprised by their abundance and ability to make my crops look shabby. Note to self – expect hordes of slugs and pigeons next year.

This autumn marks the start of an exciting phase in our fight to control blackgrass and volunteer rape. We have bought a new band sprayer for our oilseed rape from Garford Farm Machinery.

See also: Farmer Focus: Time running out for oilseed rape to germinate

Not only is this an amazing piece of machinery with its RoboCop camera system and twin-fluid systems, but the post-sale back-up has been fantastic too. Nothing has been too much trouble, which is very refreshing and appreciated. So far the results look encouraging, so watch this space. It is all extremely exciting.

With the autumn work nearly finished I decided some quality family time was needed so I booked a holiday to Jamaica.

I promised my wife and kids this would be a farming-free holiday, so when we landed at Montego Bay’s airport I kept quiet when I saw ragwort growing out of the cracks in the concrete.

I even managed to bite my tongue when we passed a three-wheeled tractor on the way to the hotel. In fact, for two whole weeks I kept quiet until the last day.

A storm overnight had resulted in hundreds of tonnes of seaweed being washed up on the beach where a man with a 30-year-old loader, was trying to clear up.

My family didn’t approve of my constant commentary, not to mention the fact I wanted to go over and suggest a lesser bucket angle would result in him not digging holes everywhere, so to those who matter most to me I apologise. Farming is just part of who I am.

Keith Challen manages 800ha of heavy clay soils in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, for Belvoir Fruit Farms. Cropping includes wheat, oilseed rape and elderflowers. The farm is also home to the Belvoir Fruit Farms drinks business.