Farmer Focus: To drill or not to drill

By the end of August we had exceeded our 30-year average annual rainfall of 650mm.

So, with September only receiving 9mm of rainfall, this presented the opportunity to procrastinate over fieldwork decisions. To drill or not to drill, that was the question.

We usually start the week after the Henley Show, which is the second Saturday in September. Due to the dry weather I decided to hold off for a few days and then take drilling and pre emergence spraying at a leisurely pace. However, it’s never that simple as I try to get multiple applications of low-rate glyphosate on ahead of the drill.

So, even at our more sedate pace, I seemed to spend most of my time on the sprayer. Thankfully I have got good staff who are able to get on with the drilling with just a brief meeting each morning. My crop walking for the rape and stubble seed-bed management was undertaken at a run rather than a walk, which is pretty much the norm for this time of year.

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Fortunately we have had very little issues with flea beetles and the reduced area of rape has got off to a good start. The cereal crops are all coming through as they were drilled into moisture despite the dry surface, so Ian, our drill man, can start to breathe a sigh of relief as he waits to see the fruits of his labours.

Henley Show was a fantastic day, so thanks to all those for helping both on the day and for the months of hard work that go on during the run-up to the show. There are too many people to mention but a special word of thanks to daughter Rebecca and son-in-law Guy Champion, who arranged their honeymoon to the USA to fit in between the show and our annual ploughing match.

Now David Cameron seems to have agreed to devolution for England, I am going to suggest that Dunsden becomes independent. We can raise some income by privatising our roads, which are just rat runs for the river Thames crossing.

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