Farmer Focus: Philip Reck March column

We have just taken delivery of our new Bateman RB 26 sprayer, and its air sleeve should increase our spraying opportunities.

The winds really blow here in spring and early summer when the weather warms, and all too often the spreader and sprayer are parked up while the sun shines.

I’m not expecting miracles, just more flexibility and the odd evening off.

All the cereals have being inspected by our agronomist John Metcalfe and will receive growth regulator over the next two weeks, starting with Humber wheat which is more forward than Alchemy.

I recently hosted a visit from the Bagnalstown Co Carlow Discussion Group which was very interesting.

It’s great having optimism in the tillage sector with farmers happy to see the market turn around.

Fertiliser prices seem to increase every week, so careful application is more important than ever.

Our Nitrates Directive limits what we can apply. When the tables were first released the levels were deemed too low. Now I’m sure that farmers realise that these are the ceilings and will gladly stay within them.

Oilseed rape has had its first split of nitrogen and sulphur. The Castille looks extremely well.

Excalibur was slow to get going in the autumn but compensated well and now looks nice and even. Our seed rate of 2.2kg/ha has given us stubby plants with plenty of room to branch out.

Removing wheat and barley straw over the past three years has led us to increased use of potash. But the dramatic increase in fertiliser prices has made straw sale less attractive.

There’s not much point in selling straw and spending the proceeds on potash.

With a rise in autumn plantings and an expected increase this spring, the decision to return straw to the land may be easy to make.

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