Farmer Focus: Richard Beachell’s soil samples raise questions

I have recently carried out the rotational soil sampling on the farm and have discovered some disturbing results.

Out of interest, I split a few field samples and sent them to two separate labs for analysis. Results are completely different, with P and K indices varying by more than one unit.

My recommendations for each sample would be completely different. Both labs insist their results are correct. If this is common over the country then we are incorrectly applying vast quantities of P and K. I shall investigate this further by using a third lab to see exactly where our indices lie.

I have also received my maps from the Rural Payments Agency. To my delight, I have had to make no alterations. All fields are correctly marked and sizes are as expected, give or take a few hundredths of a hectare.

I had just put antifreeze in the sprayer and put it away for the winter when I received a phone call from Andy Hartley, our TAG trials officer, asking me to spray the oilseed rape plots with a fungicide. After some negotiation we agreed to monitor the rape closely for signs of disease so, hopefully, I can still leave the sprayer in the shed until spring.

We are moving a lot of wheat off the farm. Some has been sold for quite a while, some since harvest, so there is a fair variation in price. The wheat hasn’t been dried and is at or around 16% moisture. It has stored remarkably well, saving a fortune in drying and handling costs.

What I also like is that deductions for moisture are taken down to 15% exactly, rather than us having to dry it down to 14% just to be safe, costing us extra fuel and weight loss. Oh for a dry harvest every year!

Richard Beachell farms in a joint venture with his neighbour at Bainton, near Driffield, East Yorkshire. The 939 acre (380ha) block is a medium to heavy Wold soil growing milling wheat, malting barley, oilseed rape and vining peas for Birds Eye.

For more from Richard Beachell click here.

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