FARMER FOCUS:OSR harvest disappoints

Well, harvest is over and its been a real mixed bag. The less said about the oilseed rape the better, except for the fact it will be my worst career average yield. The wheat, on the other hand, has been surprisingly good, with all varieties yielding well over 10t/ha.

The real highlight of harvest has been our new Case Axial Flow combine. We completed our 890ha in record time – just 174 hours – and with only one breakdown, a 50p “O”ring, which our Case dealer Farmstar had fixed in a matter of minutes. We used this harvest to test out our controlled traffic farming (CTF) harvest plan, with the RTK GPS on both combine and chaser bin tractor running off the same A-B line. We were able to unload on exactly 12m bout widths without the chaser bin having to leave the CTF run. It was all very exciting and will form the start of our move into CTF.

The new wheat store was finished just in time, thanks to the hard work of IFTS Services who built the shed. It was all hands on deck on the last day, with wheat pouring in one end and builders and electricians finishing off at the other. Having all storage on one site will really help with efficiency, not to mention no longer having to wait around at outlying stores for lorries to turn up. All that’s left to do is install some remote temperature probes and tie them into the fan switching.

I’ve just got back from the Tillage-Live event at Lincoln. I know I’ve said this before, but who buys all this kit? I have t o admit there was nothing that took my eye or gave me any confidence it would be capable of taming our Belvoir clays. I think we will stick to old machinery modified in the farm workshop for cultivations at least.

My son James started high school this week and seeing him in his blazer and tie made me feel old, it doesn’t seem that long since it was me. I’m just not looking forward to the trigonometry homework.

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

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