Farmer Focus: Is the start to spring too good to be true?

What a difference a month makes. The sun is out, the spring drilling is complete and all fertilising and spraying is up to date.

This should sound like a reason to rejoice, but I can’t help but think it feels too good to be true and so feel there is trouble on the horizon.

On occasions such as this the best thing is to go on a long walk of the farm to find problems, which in turn placates any anxiety of the unknown. Anything from blackgrass to a flock of pigeons currently constitutes a disaster on a similar scale to the “Red Eds” being elected into Whitehall.

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There are very small amounts of grassweeds present, although I am currently seeing little difference in control between areas that have had full-rate chemical and those that have had none. This might lead to a change in approach next year, with a definite reduction in pre-emergence chemical likely.

Long hours on the drill and sprayer have highlighted the benefit of mobile online technology on day-to-day farming decisions. I must confess to previously thinking it was the domain of gamers, terrorists and weirdos. But there is a wealth of knowledge out there, and many opinions; some of which are admittedly best ignored.

It has been interesting to read that others have seen the same pitfalls of drilling into green cover crops in the spring. The crop does appear to keep the ground cooler and wetter, making covering the seed more difficult, but the trade-off is that those areas with dead cover are now keeping the moisture in while the bare land is being dried by the Saharan sun and vicious winds.

One worrying observation this spring – admittedly spotted by myself, so must show some level of management acumen – has been the direct correlation between me being busy at a practical level and spending money.

The busier I am, the less money I am looking to invest/borrow/spend. While this is not good news for the local ancillary industries, I think the restaurants of Spain might appreciate it.

Will Howe

Will farms 384ha of medium to heavy land at Ewerby Thorpe Farm, near Sleaford, Lincolnshire, growing wheat, oilseed rape and winter beans.