Farmer Focus: Richard Beachell’s drill frame break spotted just in time

Trying to banish thoughts of whether we should really be sowing wheat at £85/t again is very difficult – particularly when the machinery is suffering from breakdowns every day.

Having struggled through sowing winter barley on the heavier land, we’d just started to drill second wheats when my neighbour Nick spotted that the mainframe on the drill had cracked right through and was in danger of being left behind in the field.

How lucky we are to have local firm Agriweld. Thanks to Dean and his workforce, their rapid repair got us going again next day and we now have a frame able to withstand the rigours of tough seed-beds for years to come.

All the barley and second wheat land has been power harrow/drilled straight onto the ploughing this year. None was furrow pressed as the tractor was struggling to pull it, and any “in between” cultivations were just mauling the soil.

Consequently, seed-beds have not been as ideal as we would have liked. The saving grace is that everything has been rolled post-drilling. This has levelled and consolidated the soil and made it much harder for slugs to hollow seed.

Seed rates have been increased and pellet applications have been necessary to some crops grazed by slugs as they poke through, but overall crop emergence looks good.

The first frosts have hardened crops off enough to press on with autumn weed control. Again the programme is based around Crystal (flufenacet + pendimethalin) with IPU its partner for the final time.

As groundsel will escape from this tank-mix, some of the herbicide budget has been saved to follow up with low dose Quantum (tribenuron-methyl) in spring.

Small rape plants also mean autumn fungicide needs to be applied to control phoma – an unwanted but necessary expense in this unusual season.

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