Farmer Focus: Case IH factory visit is eye opening

Happy New Year everyone, I hope you all got what you wanted for Christmas, I asked for nothing and wasn’t disappointed.

By the time you read this, I’ll have been to the Oxford farming conference, which is a first for me so I’m suitably excited.

Thank you to CF Fertilisers for inviting me as their guest, I’ll try not to look too out of place in this amazing academic learning event.

See also: Tips to improve pulse performance in a difficult season

Just before Christmas I was lucky enough to be invited by Case IH to visit their tractor manufacturing facility in Styer, Austria.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit one or two of these type of factories in the past and the most noticeable thing is how clean they’ve got over the years, everywhere was immaculate and the technology employed is bordering on space age.

One of the great things about these trips is meeting other farmers and farm managers – without fail I always return having learned something that’s applicable to our business.

High hopes for beans

Rainfall for December was more than 80mm, which was very welcome. The cracks in the clay in our oilseed rape crop have finally closed and the mild weather has been kind to some very tender plants that didn’t germinate until October.

A couple of fields that I earlier thought should have been written off now should make a crop.

Winter beans are up in row and look a picture, I’ve got high hopes for this crop as it’s our first attempt at growing them, so far so good.

December was a busy month and as well as the usual machinery maintenance jobs we also planted more than 2,000 new elders.

The drought in Europe last summer took its toll on new plants, and new stock was harder to come by this year.

Normally we would buy 90cm-tall bare-rooted plants but none were available, so we’ve had to plant 30cm-tall potted plants. This means weed competition will need to be managed completely differently with this crop. I can see it’s going to be a labour of love, just what we want – more work.


Keith Challen manages 800ha of heavy clay soils in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, for Belvoir Fruit Farms. Cropping includes wheat, oilseed rape and elderflowers. The farm is also home to the Belvoir Fruit Farms drinks business