Farmer Focus: Late-drilled spring crops emerging well

Well, that wasn’t so bad after all. Who says you can’t spring-crop heavy land?

I must confess to having a particularly low moment with 121ha left to go when the ground just wouldn’t dry and I was convincing myself to fallow it all.

Then I had a seminal moment where I decided: “S**t or bust.” These conditions will show just how far the farm and I have come and whether the past few years of painstakingly trying to improve my soil has paid off.

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

So the drilling depth was set and then I only got out the tractor again to check for blocked coulters and fill up, such was my disappointment with the quality of my workmanship.

The drilling tractor was then swiftly parked in the shed while I tore around with the rake tidying the fields up, followed by a sprightly pass with the rolls to make the final finish look aesthetically pleasing from the road, while trying not to squash any more life from the soil.

As I drilled my 994th and last acre, I thought to myself that if I hadn’t given the neighbours something to chat about all winter with a generally bare farm, I will have done when they see this patchy emergence.

However, it appears I was more than a little pessimistic. The barley is now all in rows, the beans are just poking through enough to interest any bird within a 100-mile radius and the month-long drilling campaign will ensure I won’t have 300ha of barley all ready to harvest on the same day.

I am always trying to learn and feel that if you look after the skill in farming, the luck will look after itself (a little idealistic, I know).

The resounding message from this spring is residue – or more accurately, too much residue. Residue holds moisture in the soil. Moisture encourages slugs and slugs need no encouragement to eat my crops.

Sort out the residue and life will be far easier. With this in mind, the delivery date of my new-fangled residue management machine gets ever closer.

Will Howe farms 384ha of medium to heavy land at Ewerby Thorpe Farm, near Sleaford, Lincolnshire. He mainly grows spring crops and also manages a further 200ha on contract.

Need a contractor?

Find one now