Farmer Focus: Second hand sprayer tests patience

Quite often, when we buy second hand machinery, we end up going through a period of sorting out problems before we can move forward with it.

The replacement sprayer has taken this to the extreme with several months of breakdowns and irritating problems, the worst of which lost us three days of ideal spraying during the important T1 timing on the wheat.

I hope we are now past the worst and I have just completed the T2 spray without any further hassle. The problem is, you trundle up and down the field just waiting for something to go wrong, which is not very relaxing.

Despite all the sprayer woes, we are mostly up to date now having put in the hours to catch up on lost time.

The maize went into sufficiently warm soils just before Easter. We then had more than 80mm of rain in the following weeks, so it just sat there cold and miserable. The warm sunshine this weekend has finally made an impact and the majority of the crop is up and away and generally looking a better colour.

Likewise, the spring beans are on the move, after being drilled several weeks too late and parked up in the cooler, wet soils. With field work mostly up to date we have been able to make a start on replacing some of the wild bird seed mixtures and the cover strips.

This usually takes 10-man days to cover 25ha, so not quite up to our average of 40ha a day when sowing the farms crops. Bear in mind this is min-till and sown with a six-metre drill. It does involve an awful lot of running around though.

Some of the wild flower strips are fantastic when in full bloom and the number of bees and insects they attract make it all worthwhile. The wild bird strips are also popular when the birds hit the hunger gap in late winter.

We’re all now looking forward to the wedding in June when our daughter, Rebecca and her fiancé Guy, tie the knot.

Simon Beddows manages 1,000ha of arable land at Dunsden Green, south Oxfordshire. Cropping is cereals, oilseed rape, beans and forage maize

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