After a delayed start, thanks to a damp March, fieldwork has been in full flow during April. While I would have liked to get going a fortnight earlier, I’m not too concerned as I believe correct conditions are generally more beneficial.
The barley and beans were both drilled into decent seed-beds and have got up and away quickly. While there is currently sufficient moisture at depth, the big question is how much rain are we going to see during the rest of the spring?
Dry conditions have allowed steady progress with potato planting. I have bought a new British-built destoner this year, having fallen for the manufacturers claim that it had a tremendous output.
See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers
So far, I have to say, that its performance is impressive with it often covering a greater daily area than the two old machines combined.
While this is important, making the right bed is of greater importance and it seems to score well in this area, too. It is fair to say that there haven’t been any really wet, difficult or testing conditions so far, but I feel happy that I have invested capital that looks likely to improve our overall performance.
The second piece of major investment this spring has been a new trailed sprayer. I have run a trailed sprayer for a number of years and have got on well with it and feel that there are a number of advantages over a self-propelled – cost being the major one.
About a year ago I went on a visit to the factory of a major manufacturer of green and yellow sprayers to look at the advances in technology since I bought the last one.
It is fair to say that there had been a number that I felt were likely to improve the efficiency of chemical use, as well as potentially increasing the daily output to improve timeliness.
Consequently, Andrew, our sprayer operator, has spent the last few weeks getting his head around field mapping, automated boom height and levelling, as well as auto on and off and a number of other exciting features.
I, however, am sat back waiting for the benefits to flow through in terms of an improved bottom line – we’ll see.
Jeremy Oatey manages 1,200ha of arable land near Plymouth in Cornwall and is 2013 Farmers Weekly Arable Farmer of the Year. Cropping includes wheat, barley, OSR, oats, beans, potatoes, onions, swedes and daffodils.