FARMER FOCUS: Richard Cobbold signs off

After six very happy years here at West Wratting, the time has come to move to pastures new, and by the time this has gone to print I will be days away from starting my new position at Stamford.

I have enjoyed every minute on the estate even when things haven’t been so good, notably the very dry year of 2011 and the wettest drought ever in 2012, but still we always kept a smile on our faces.

I like to think I have made improvements to the farm with the introduction of technologies such as yield mapping, soil scanning and variable rate fertiliser, as well as bringing the machinery fleet up to date.

So to my final harvest here, it has been the driest I have known and the first for more than 10 years that we have not had to put anything through our ageing dryer, much to the relief of all of us.

We finished on 2 September, which equals our earliest finish despite the fact that we had the latest start to harvest I have ever known. Yet again the expression “nature has a way of correcting itself” leaps to mind. Yields on first wheat and feed barley were very good, second wheat was a bit disappointing, but the miracle of the year, was where did all the rapeseed come from?

So on reflection, not a bad final harvest, with still the 100ha of beet to lift. They need to improve a lot after the germination problems we had. I will rely on my successor to keep me posted on them.

My impending departure from the estate has also prompted me to finish writing in this column. It has been great fun having a forum for my rants over the past five years, and I hope you have enjoyed reading them.

Finally it just remains for me to wish all concerned at West Wratting Park the very best for the future, it’s been great and I will miss the place.

Richard Cobbald is farm manager for West Wratting Park Estate near Cambridge. The 1,300ha of heavy soils grow wheat, oilseed rape, sugar beet and spring barley

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