Farmer Focus: Spring barley drilling complete for Robert Law

I was extremely privileged to be asked to speak to a group of arable farmers in East Riding last week.

Having been entertained at an excellent dinner and given bed-and-breakfast by one of the group I received a tour of the region and its farming.

My guide farmed on the legendary Sunk Island and took me around his own units. What a contrast from my own undulating chalk downland.

The flat land carried some even and excellent cereal and rape crops.

Yields achieved are impressive and the soil indices certainly an asset in these times of spiralling P&K prices.

While I might miss the hedges, trees and rolling terrain of Hertfordshire, I wouldn’t miss the rabbits and pigeons which plague us.

In East Riding I saw no evidence of rabbits, pigeons, deer (or horses for that matter), but my host did explain that slugs more than made up for their absence.

The dry February gave us one of our easiest lambings for years, with ewes and lambs turned out to pasture supplemented with surplus sugar beet until the grass can keep up.

The weather has allowed us to get almost all our Tipple spring barley drilled and rolled, and as the store lambs munch through the stubble turnips, land is being ploughed and prepared for Zero 4 peas and sugar beet.

I remain optimistic and enthusiastic about the future of beet growing, but see it as more of a challenge than it has been for years.

I have been selling my first spring lambs and watching the drill working in almost perfect conditions. The experience makes the memory of those dark, wet winter Sunday mornings spent checking sheep on roots, while feeling the effects of the previous afternoon on the rugby field, pale into insignificance.