Farmer Focus: Dry January and good results from the plough

Dry January has certainly lived up to its name. We have had just two rainfall events, coming to a grand total of 14mm for the month, with no significant rainfall in the forecast.

Land will soon be dry enough to get a bit of late winter ploughing done in preparation for spring sowing.

We have 605ha of spring crops to establish and have found over the years that ploughing as a primary cultivation gives us the most consistent results.

See also: AICC data shows how wheat growers can save on N fertiliser

About the author

David Fuller
David Fuller manages 3,500ha of medium sandy clays for McGregor Farms based at Coldstream, on both sides of the border. Cropping includes wheat, spring barley, winter barley and oilseed rape, spring beans and vining peas. Potatoes are farmed in collaboration with Greenvale AP.
Read more articles by David Fuller

Vining peas make up 60% of our spring drilling campaign, but we also grow spring barley, spring oats and spring beans.

The vining peas are sown on a sequential program to allow for processing time at harvest, and we can be sowing these from March to late May.

The barley, oats and beans all benefit from early sowing in good soil conditions. The plough and a timely cultivation with a press gives us more flexibility in achieving optimal sowing conditions earlier in the season than some other methods we have tried.

Thoughts will soon be focusing on nitrogen fertiliser strategies, with the nitrate vulnerable zone window opening on 15 February in Scotland (15 January in England).

We will once again be relying on Yara’s N-Sensor to variably apply nitrogen to our crops.

The current eye-watering price of nitrogen is certainly focusing the mind on applying the correct amount of nitrogen to each part of the crop accurately. The N-Sensor has proved its worth to this effect over the years.

The dry weather also enabled us to make great headway into the clear-up of fallen trees and branches in the aftermath of storm Arwen, which struck in late November.

Since then the weather has been rather benign. December was dull – in fact, very dull, as the output from our PV panels would confirm. We recorded the lowest monthly output since the panels were fitted in December 2013.

Crops in general look full of potential. Let’s hope that Mother Nature allows us to capture as much of that potential as possible in the coming season.

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