Farmer Focus: Philip Reck gets ready for drilling

The weather seems to have finally settled down a bit 200mm of rain fell last month.

I hope it will soon be dry enough to start drilling Barra spring oats before we move on to Prestige spring barley grown for its early ripening. The latter should help spread the combine workload, as we’ll have a large acreage to cover in a small harvesting window, weather permitting.

This year’s crops will be direct-drilled using two new 6m Vaderstad Seedhawk drills pulled by our John Deere 7530 tractors.

Although they are combine drills for most of the season, they will be operated “seed only” in the spring, with 10:10:20 fertiliser being broadcast ahead by our trailed Bredal spreader.

Low-nitrogen compound will be used because a germinating crop does not need much N to get above ground. The balance will then be applied in two splits, the first as soon as the tramlines are visible.

Using the drills seed-only doubles the sowing capacity of each to 80 acres per fill. Compared with the Vaderstad Rapid we previously operated, sowing speed will be about half as fast.

Travelling at 8kmh with the 6m drill covers an average of 8 acres/hr. So a normal 10-hour day should see each drill covering at least 80 acres.

We will also combine-drill some spring barley as a comparison for yield purposes.

Like so many before me, I feel the need to lament the traffic heading to the LAMMA show.

What I envisaged as a one-hour drive from the airport turned to into three hours. Still, John, our tractor driver, and I enjoyed our day out and we were impressed by the machinery on display.

Many thanks to Paschal for taking time out of his hectic Harper Adams studies to be our chauffer.

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