Farmer Focus: Battling with the spring drilling challenge

First of all, I hope all of you are keeping fit and well in these challenging times. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those amazing people who work in our fantastic NHS.

I have particular reason to thank them, as my 94-year-old great-aunt was admitted to hospital diagnosed with Covid-19.

A week later, she has been discharged home and is recovering well. When I questioned her on her strength to beat it, she just muttered something about how not being married had helped.

With stoicism fast running out, I pressed the go button on 7 March. But 5ha later, we were all back in the yard with wounded pride and a lot of mud.

However, the 5ha of Skyfall wheat is just about visible in row now, so maybe we were right to go after all.

See also: All you need to know about controlling wireworm in potatoes

It was 10 days later before we were back out again. Plan A was to drill straight into the overwintered seed-beds, but with zero tilth, it soon became apparent we needed plan B – a quick pass over with our shiny new Vaderstad NZA.

Set 50mm deep, we fetched up clay that should have been left quite alone, but at about 35mm, it just milled the top enough to give us some tilth.

Ordinarily, we wouldn’t dream of doing any cultivations, but there is nothing ordinary about this year.

With varying levels of moisture, we are left having to farm very much on a field-by-field basis to achieve quality seed-beds.

I’ve learned the hard way in the past with spring crops that they are very unforgiving of less-than-ideal conditions.

I can’t help but wonder, as I go up and down the fields drilling, if the current situation will reposition food security as a priority for society.

It seems ironic that only a couple of weeks ago, a letter leaked to the Daily Mail questioned the very need for an agricultural industry, and yet here we are, with panic buying and complaints of shortages.

I still haven’t fathomed out the rush on toilet paper, though.

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