Farmer Focus: Switched to liquid fertiliser for everything

The T0 sprays were all completed on time, and in good conditions, so at least we have got off to a good start.

They comprised mainly tebuconazole, prochloraz and chlorothalonil, with everything receiving some chlormequat and some first wheats also getting some Moddus. The wheats are all looking fairly good, and even those drilled in December have established well.

All of the fertiliser has been put on to the oliseed rape, which is near enough in flower now – at least a month ahead of last year. No doubt a two-spray sclerotinia spray will be used, although timing this will be somewhat easier as pigeons have stayed away and crops are looking very even across the field.

This is the first season we’ve used liquid fertiliser for everything, it was intended last year, but the purchase of a boom spreader for applying Avadex at 24m made the temptation for cheap ammonium nitrate too great. Needless to say we learnt the hard way that it’s cheaper for a reason. Liquid has been great; no bags, no waiting for lorries to unload and applying right to the field edge is accurate, keeping expensive product in the field and away from the hedgerows and margins. I’m definitely converted, although the spinner has to stay for things like triple super phosphate, so we have ultimate flexibility for the future.

The three-crop rule is proving to be a very topical issue in the press. Luckily there are already three or more crops grown here, so the impact will be minimal. However, we will have to wait and see what effect the other CAP elements will have as there are a number of rumours circulating – will peas or beans count towards EFAs? If so, how many points? I’ve even heard one suggestion that they will count, but cannot be sprayed. Delaying the final details until after this year’s SFP submission may sound sensible, but farming is long term and planning for next year’s cropping is well under way for most farms, so this detail is urgently required.

Matt Redman operates an agricultural contracting business and helps out on the family farm at Lower Gravenhurst, Bedfordshire. The 210ha farm grows mainly wheat, oilseed rape and beans

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