Farmer Focus: Farm technology needs careful reviewing

We have a lot of technology at our disposal, and there is a lot more we don’t have but someone is always trying to sell us.

I say “we have” rather than “we use” because I’ve recently set myself the task of reviewing what we have and how to use it better.

RTK, soil mapping/sampling, telematics, trackers, apps and management software – it’s all used, but through lack of time, understanding or training it isn’t used well enough. In some cases, this is a luxury we don’t need.

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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I love technology, and wouldn’t want to be without a lot of it, but like machinery it needs reviewing carefully.

Otherwise, the possible savings are instantly eroded by an expensive subscription that’s not needed, or fancy maps that are of little value other than a nice office poster.

Spring crops are looking promising after a testing start. Initially, it was easy to choose between the 750A and Dale drills, but there is very little difference now with later emerging plants filling the areas of the Dale-drilled fields where the drill moved soil and dried it out too much.

As a bit of an on-farm trial, I am undersowing some clover into a couple of fields that will be spring barley again next year.

The hope is that it will create a good ground cover to reduce weed pressure (ideally blackgrass), act as a cover crop straight after harvest and through the winter and reduce the nitrogen requirement of next year’s crop.

It may also provide an opportunity to graze some sheep over winter if conditions are right, although it isn’t really the right variety of clover for grazing.

I registered my interest in taking part in the sustainable farming incentive pilot scheme and recently received an email to say that I have been successful.

In true Defra work-making style, this doesn’t mean I will be part of the scheme.

It actually means I have been successful in applying to be able to apply for the scheme. I’m not quite sure on the logic of that, but let’s hope the final scheme makes more sense.

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