Farmer Focus: Deciding the best way to reduce N rates

The majority of wheat has now emerged and received a post-emergence herbicide, and things are looking positive heading into winter – a nice change from the past two years.

Although drilling started at the end of September, I have stuck to the no-insecticides rule I have had for four years now, so it will be interesting to see how that pans out.

About the author

Matt Redman
Farmer Focus writer
Matt Redman farms 370ha just north of Cambridge and operates a contracting business specialising in spraying and direct drilling. He also grows cereals on a small area of tenancy land and was Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year in 2014.
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See also: Advice on trimming fertiliser rates when prices are high

Nitrogen prices for the coming season are worrying, and time will have to be spent deciding on the best plan of action in terms of reducing application rates, and whether or not to push for the milling specifications with the Skyfall.

Or perhaps I should keep things simple and grow everything for feed?

Another question is whether we can cut fungicides if nitrogen is reduced from 220kg/ha to 160kg/ha.

Obviously, the weather will be a big deciding factor, but pushing crops less should potentially mean less stress.

It has been incredibly pleasing to see the results of our environmental stewardship this year, with numerous different species of small birds, hares, English partridge and birds of prey easy to spot across the farm.

I have entered another block of land into the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) pilot scheme and hope the results are similar.

It is extremely frustrating that the SFI and Farming Rules for Water are so contradictory.

For the first time this year I was planning to use some muck on fields where straw had been removed, but had to abandon the plan at the 11th hour, while at the same time completing an application for the SFI that encourages its use.

I have recently had a farming resilience meeting and am looking forward to reading the report.

As someone who hasn’t really used third-party advice in the past, it was thought-provoking talking through the questions and thinking about things in more detail.

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