Farmer Focus: Ideal combine completes harvest in record time

Harvest 2021 was, without doubt, the wettest dry harvest we’ve had. Despite having no real measurable rain, we still dried everything with the exception of winter barley.

Crops just didn’t quite get there in time. We are up to date with cultivations again, only working very shallow and milling the top to form a tilth.

About the author

Keith Challen
Arable Farmer Focus writer
Keith Challen manages 1,200ha of heavy clay soils in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, for Belvoir Farming Company. Cropping includes wheat, oilseed rape and elderflowers. The farm is also home to the Belvoir Fruit Farms drinks business.
Read more articles by Keith Challen

We have left a couple of areas uncultivated to see which green up first. Although seed-beds are very dry, the cultivated ground has the most volunteers growing, with soil-to-seed contact being better.

Winter beans have been drilled into purposefully dry seed-beds, as we know it will take quite a lot of rain to reach them, which will give us the chance to control weeds before emergence.

With very little volunteer growth, wheat drilling decisions are becoming tricky. We know we have blackgrass, but we also know one big rain storm would make drilling our clay very tricky.

See also: Farmer Focus: Going back to shallow cultivations

We can drill our acreage in about 10 days, so it’s just a case of hanging on until rain is forecast. I’m not a patient man, so I suspect the urge to drill will take over in the next week.

Harvest was a tricky time in terms of machinery, as all three of our tractors broke down at one point. However, the support and backup from our Fendt dealer- B&B Tractors – was superb, with prop-up tractors on farm within 24 hours. We are very lucky to have such great support.

The new Ideal 10T combine completed harvest in record time, with virtually no breakdowns at all, and while output has been impressive, the reliability has been the greatest benefit, with literally only minutes stood.

Our Brocks Farmet Phantom cultivator has just completed its sixth season, covering about 11,300ha in that time, so when the opportunity came from J Brock and Sons to buy its current demonstration machine we jumped at the chance.

We still find it’s the best machine for our shallow tillage system, and with depreciation, spares and repairs for the previous machine running at just slightly over £1/acre, it is still a very cheap insurance policy for us to get good crop establishment.

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