Farmer Focus: Harvest is done, but do people appreciate it?

As much as I look forward to getting the combine out to start the harvest, I also look forward to putting it back in the shed.

For the second year in a row, harvest has been a stop-start affair, making the most of short spells of fine weather.

See also: Farmer Focus: Getting hard to justify investment as a tenant

About the author

David Clark
Farmer Focus writer
David Clark runs a 463ha fully irrigated mixed farm with his wife Jayne at Valetta, on the Canterbury Plains of New Zealand’s south island. He grows 400ha of cereals, pulses, forage and vegetable seed crops, runs 1,000 Romney breeding ewes and finishes 8,000 lambs annually.
Read more articles by David Clark

We grabbed a single fine day to get a 26ha field of radish done. If we had missed it, the crop would still be sitting out three weeks later. We were lucky, or well-organised – it’s a fine line.

For too many years we have mucked around with all sorts of dividers, hoops and other contraptions on the combine front to harvest radish, and the crop has bunched, tangled and dragged, all of which has spilt seed and slowed the combine down.

We always thought we couldn’t afford or justify hydraulic side knives for a single crop. It turns out we were wrong.

We fitted a pair of side knives this year and the combine operated at capacity, from one end of the field to the other without losing time or seed.

We just managed to cut the paddock in the day, with a pleasing yield and excellent seed quality. The side knives were the difference between finishing and part of the crop sitting out deteriorating in the wet.

So, on that crop alone, the side knives were not only justified, they paid for themselves.

They are just one small bit of our inventory of machinery that has been invested in over the years to aid the process of growing good quality seed, feed and food products.

I sometimes look in our sheds, or the machinery schedule in our accounts, and shake my head at the value of kit we have.

I’m not sure the public or our politicians have any comprehension of the investment, time and effort that goes into growing the food on their plates.

Maybe they aren’t meant to understand, but it would be great if they had some insight before throwing stones at farmers.

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