Farmer Focus: Ready for harvest with safety a top priority

As I write, we are all ready to go into some oilseed rape. As always it seems the day to start harvest down here will fall on a Sunday.

Harvest preparations seem to have started a long time ago, and I have felt right on top of the job all along. It is funny that I’m still going around sorting bits out now.

There is always something extra you find you have not done over winter or temporarily repaired at the tail-end of the season and forgotten about until now.

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We have been doing plenty of preventative maintenance this year, with Southern Harvesters doing a splendid job on the combine back in November.

It has been given all new bearings and a few new rings plus an entire new frame built on another Sentry farm for our rolls and our new drill arriving from another Sentry farm.

Something we haven’t skimped on and have prepared for well ahead of time is our health and safety.

We will be having a second harvest meeting early next week when the full team and all employees will air any issues they can see or think of during the meeting.

All will be taken through the health and safety policy we run and warned of risks if they haven’t been here before or reminded of them if they are here every day.

Tractor files have all been updated too, with local A&E and emergency contacts all in place, as well as postcodes for farm buildings to allow better responses should the worst happen and a member of the public finds them.

I try to keep the meetings light-hearted rather than terrifying people, but I do always say at the end: “You’ll only get it wrong once”.

Hopefully by the time you read this I will be into my wheat. There is a lot of promise in the crop, but I’m slightly alarmed at how fast it seems to have turned recently.

I do wonder if that hot spell in early July just pushed the wheat too far. Time will tell and it may bring out some interesting results from fungicide programmes, possibly showing some of the physiological effects that are talked about so often.


Robert Nightingale manages 600ha of combinable cropping across Sentry’s operations in Sussex and Surrey. Cropping includes winter wheat, oats, oilseed rape, linseed, peas and soon beans