Farmer Focus: Keeping out the hare coursers comes at a price

Like most we took full advantage of February’s beautiful weather getting some nitrogen on hybrid barley, oilseed rape and second wheats, as well as drilling our spring bean.

Seed-beds were perfect and all was good, but we held off from drilling our spring barley as I wasn’t satisfied that enough blackgrass had germinated.

Boy, am I glad we waited, the hot weather stimulated another flush and the biggest to date, it’s a new block of land and historically dirty.

See also: Sussex grower switches wheat variety to trim fungicide spend

Hopefully my patience will have paid off, although looking out the window now at torrential rain and gale-force winds, it’s hard to imagine we will ever see dust again.

New project

Like many, we seem to be plagued with unwanted criminals chasing hares with longdogs.

Years ago they seemed content to walk round with their dogs, today it seems they insist on rally driving around our fields, causing havoc everywhere.

Enough is enough, so we’ve started on a campaign to gate and fence every part of the estate we can.

All the gates are homemade, although copied from a recent google search to look posh, they fall in to three categories; 5m single, 7.5m single and 7.5m double, giving a 15m span.

All are made to be identical in design so any gate in theory can fit any post – all good in theory.

Well, eight weeks in and we’ve only made half of the 30-odd gates required and have used over £3,000 of materials, looks like I need another 35 tons of wheat sales just to cover the costs.

Blooming business

Elderflowers wanted: I’m sure by now most of you will have seen or even tried our delicious drinks, this side of the business has expanded massively over the last 10 years with us exporting to all corners of the globe.

It gives me great pride when friends send pictures of our drinks from far-flung places – however, we need more flowers.

If you have flowers in abundance or you are interested in growing elders for us then please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

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.

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