Farmer Focus: Delayed drilling in the Borders

Many of you will have watched at least one or two episodes of This Farming Life on BBC television recently.

One episode where Martin Irvine, a Limousin breeder, was seen calving a cow with a very large calf was also featured on Gogglebox – a Channel 4 production where the “stars” of the show are being watched watching television.

Now I know this article is in the arable section of this magazine and a lot of you will not know one end of a calving jack from the other but it was enlightening to see the reactions (especially when the ratchet took the strain) of these non-farming people as the drama was unfolding.

Suffice to say it all ended well, but I reckon that Martin now has the respect of millions of people throughout the country. It’s great to see programmes such as this on the telly and I applaud those in our industry that put themselves up for such scrutiny.

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

I would have hoped that sowing spring crops would have been completed in March. I have to look back as far as 2010 to find a year when we finished sowing barley as late as 10 April.

Sure enough, that field yielded below average for that year, but there seems little point in putting seed into ground that is still relatively cold and damp.

Johnny, our new man, is getting the hang of driving tractors again after a spell on the lorries and it is a relief to see his new Deere 6215R, which replaced a Friday afternoon-built JD7230, is perfectly up to the jobs we have given it, despite being smaller.

I was lucky enough to have had a demonstration of a Challenger with a seven-furrow plough recently that took a bit of getting used to.

My “ins and outs” were all over the place to start with, but I thought I skilfully missed an electric pole with millimetres to spare with the tractor, only to forget that the last furrow stuck out by a couple of inches and be very alarmed when I saw the pole swinging, the wires flapping furiously, and a large chunk of wood peel off the pole a second later. Happily, it is still standing!

Neil Thomson farms 607 ha in partnership with his father and brother at Caverton Mill, Kelso, on the Scottish Borders, growing combinable crops and brassicas. Some of the mainly medium loam is let for potatoes, and the farm also has cattle and sheep

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