Farmer Focus: Move to more disease-resistant wheat varieties

The dry weather has continued, with just enough rain falling to keep the crops growing. The only significant rain I have seen was on a trip to Wiltshire to look at soil health and cultivations.

With no rain for some time beforehand the soil pits were dry to some depth, but the heavy rain falling showed up the difference in natural drainage between clay and gravel subsoils.

Both soils and crops on the farm looked well having been drilled with a direct drill, with remedial work done only where necessary with a low disturbance subsoiler.

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

It is a principle which I like, but I feel that with our rainfall in a normal year and soils which take some time to drain naturally I will be sticking with the plough for some time yet.

I just hope bringing out the forage harvester or combine won’t have the same effect on the weather as looking at soil pits.

With this year’s crops now all growing well and cattle outside I am starting to finalise cropping plans and prepare budgets for the next cropping year.

New wheat varieties

This autumn will see a move to newer wheat varieties with better disease resistance scores. Changed demand for wheat in our area means we can now choose the most suitable variety without being restricted to soft endosperm varieties.

Seeing the forward grain prices available I have made some initial sales at prices in line with the best of this year’s contracts.

I optimistically hope these will be the lowest-priced sales, but realistically know that provided we make average yields that we will make a profit at these levels.

I read with interest the debate on the letters page of this publication about the safety of quad bikes.

My initial reaction was that given proper risk assessment, training and safety equipment they can be used safely, particularly in an arable farm environment.

But on reflection, it occurred to me that perhaps my predecessors thought the same thing about a move to tractors with safety frames, so maybe a move to utility vehicles with cabs will be seen in the same way in the future.

Robert Drysdale is farm manager at Farmcare’s 1,610ha business in Aberdeenshire, growing winter and spring barley, wheat and oilseed rape across four contract farming agreements to the south of Inverurie. The farm has 130 beef cows on land less suitable for crop production.


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