Farmer Focus: Going back to shallow cultivations

It seems I am not alone in being glad to see the back of harvest 2021, yields were generally underwhelming locally and quality not what we are used to. Fortunately, good prices are softening the blow.

It has not been what I would call a wet harvest, but we did end up drying nearly every tonne down from 17% moisture because the sun didn’t appear through the whole of August.

About the author

Christy Willett
Arable Farmer Focus writer
Christy Willett farms with son Hew on 475ha at Parklands Farm, Galleywood, Essex, growing combinable crops alongside diversifications into horse stables on DIY livery, industrial and office lets. She is the chair of the Essex NFU.
Read more articles by Christy Willett

As usual, as soon as the schools started back, we were treated to some warm sunshine, but you’ve got to be brave to hold off to then with shorter days and damp mornings.

See also: 5 cultivation and establishment methods compared

Much of our early harvested wheat went into Dengie Crops central storage and I take my hat off to it for arranging transport brilliantly in a difficult year for getting haulage sorted.

After a phone call to Phil Warren on the Saturday, we started wheat and we had lor­ries arrive in the yard early Monday morning. You really cannot fault that for service.

In the quest to improve our wheat establishment we are going back to some selective cultivations this autumn.

We have had a couple of years of going straight into stubble with our Horizon disc drill which works well in ideal soil conditions.

But Essex clay doesn’t always give you those! Hew has been doing some shallow tine cultivating which breaks open the surface and gives some tilth for weed chit and, hopefully, a better environment for wheat to germinate.

We have also taken delivery of a Heva Stealth low disturbance subsoiler which we are doing a few headlands with.

Our soils are very vulnerable this year, they may have dried on the surface, but there is moisture not far down, we must tread carefully.

When we cut our furthest away land, we called in expert help for corn carting in the form of the two Andrews: Mr Brown, and Mr Hutley, and my husband Charlie.

I dragged him away from his fishing for a day and gave him the best tractor on the farm, our Fendt 724. I know, I spoil him.

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