Farmer Focus: Patience is tested with delayed drilling

It’s mid-November and I’m now finding out how patient I can be.

A combination of forced waiting and patience waiting for blackgrass to germinate have got me this far, so I don’t want to rush out now and make a mess.

It’s safe to say I have definitely got to the point where I can say it is delayed drilling.

I had always planned to be fairly late with drilling, so I haven’t had to change my plans yet.

High seed rates to compensate for a lack of tillering were budgeted for, and seed ordered back in August.

See also: Read more from all our Farmer Focus writers

So the only real change will be if we pass the – as yet undecided – magic date, and the winter wheat seed stays in the shed and a switch to spring crops is made. Hopefully, this will not be the case, but it isn’t the end of the world if it is.

Away from the productive side of the farm, winter work will soon be in full swing, with a number of projects on the go this year. I have some hedging and ditching work I want to complete, as the previous tenant has done a fantastic job and transformed the farm by planting hedges.

However, the hedges have been allowed to get a little overgrown in recent years, so in order to maintain the environmental benefits and habitats they bring and to stop them becoming too big and unmanageable, it’s now my job to spend some time on them.

My other big winter project is more difficult – not because it’s too technical or to ambitious, but because it’s so varied. Moving to my own farm is both very exciting and daunting – luckily I’ve built up a lot of the machinery and tools required in recent years.

But getting the farm’s infrastructure sorted – such as water, diesel and fertiliser tanks, fitting some extra lighting around the yard, organising the workshop, signing up to farm assurance, looking at input buying options, ideas/solutions for additional off-farm crop storage and getting all of the risk management paperwork sorted – is going to be a big and time-consuming task for the next few months.

December is fast approaching, which means it’s not long until the NAAC Contractor 2017 event at Peterborough Showground on 14 December.

It promises to be a great day, with more than 50 exhibitors and a number of different speakers from all areas of the agricultural industry. If you’re involved in contracting and haven’t booked a place yet, contact the NAAC office and have a day out, you won’t be disappointed.

Matt Redman farms 240ha of arable land just north of Cambridge, and operates an agricultural contracting business across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. He was Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year in 2014.