Farmer Focus: Busy month ahead as harvest set for August start

Well it was bound to happen. As soon as our neighbours got the combine out, it started raining and it’s been pretty much on and off for a couple of weeks ever since.

We do not have any oilseed rape or winter barley this year and, as we are all heavy land, it’s unlikely we will cut anything before August. Once we do start, its going to be a busy month.

See also: Stop-start winter barley harvest yields well despite storms

About the author

Keith Challen
Arable Farmer Focus writer
Keith Challen manages 1,200ha of heavy clay soils in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, for Belvoir Farming Company. Cropping includes wheat, oilseed rape and elderflowers. The farm is also home to the Belvoir Fruit Farms drinks business.
Read more articles by Keith Challen

As July tends to be quieter, we usually move about 90% of our wheat out of store, which works really well for us. Although, at times lorries are queueing around the yard, but with a 15-minute turnaround, most don’t mind.

I do get a bit nervous when it’s dry in early summer, in case we haven’t emptied the stores in time.

Between loading grain, we’ve been busy composting manure ready for stubble applications after harvest.

I still cant believe how good a job our Rolland spreader does turning straw into black gold with just a couple of passes through. The benefits to the land are very visual, hopefully resulting in a yield uplift.

Managing a controlled traffic harvest is going to be challenging.

In places our tramlines are too rutted to either drop a straw swath in or to use as traffic lanes for unloading the combine, so for the first time in seven years, some tramlines will get a temporary 6m shift. This isn’t ideal, but it is better than damaging machinery.

One of the best stands we visited at Cereals was JJ Metcalfe and Son. I particularly like their narrow point direct-drill tines.

I’ve been mulling over an idea where we make a drill using their tines and use it both as a cultivator for placing fertiliser at around 50mm first, then with RTK coming back and drilling cereals with it at 25mm in the same place, hopefully with a drainage channel.

I would then swap the narrow point for a goose foot point, side shift half a coulter with and then use it as a hoe. Let me know what you think.

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