Farmer Focus: Richard Beachell finds gardening’s no pleasure

Like most farmers I hate gardening. Getting the lawnmower out for the year’s first cut reminds me that weekly topping will figure regularly on the “jobs to do” list now spring has arrived.

Son Thomas says he has to revise for GCSEs, so doesn’t have time to do the job and daughter Rosie is at the age where it is “uncool” to help dad. So the three-hour task falls on yours truly. Thankfully, my iPod helps pass the time on the rather uncomfortable seat.

Warmer soils mean crops are moving despite night frosts. I’m travelling tramlines at regular intervals carefully applying expensive nitrogen or crop protection treatments as and when required.

The dry, settled period through March made it a doddle to keep up with timely treatments. But mid-April will be when we need another settled period with light winds, as T1 treatments, main nitrogen applications and pea drilling will all occur at the same time.

Nitrogen dressings in the form of urea to oilseed rape and winter malting barley have been completed at the usual rates. It’s frightening that each 0.5t bag is worth over £200. I have made sure that every last granule has been emptied out of every bag before it’s taken away.

Our Tipple spring barley is just emerging, so we turn from pigeon to crow patrol.

The birds’ persistency is frustrating, but the crop should soon outgrow their presence.

The first half of the nitrogen has been applied and weed control is imminent concentrating my search for some surplus IPU to use as my treatment of choice.

We have had to dig out our old crop records to remind ourselves how to grow the crop again and we shall work from the TAG blueprint as a guide to future treatments.

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