Autumn-sown crops currently look great, which makes a nice change to how things looked this time last year.
Winter wheat was all drilled right at the end of October or into November and conditions following drilling were perfect for residual herbicides to work well in both the wheat and winter beans, so blackgrass control has been very good.
In theory I am now nearly one month into my mid-tier countryside stewardship agreement – although I am yet to find out if my application has been successful.
It’s a real shame that it is already off to a bad start, so it doesn’t bode well for on-time payments.
Will it be rewarding?
The decision to apply for the mid-tier scheme is already turning into one of those things that you know is the right thing to do (and really want to do), but makes absolutely no business sense.
Being optimistic however, I left some of the areas destined for wild bird mixes when autumn crops were drilled and made a start creating some of the beetle banks.
I’m confident the application submitted would transform the farm and really deliver, whilst also being really rewarding.
The question is what will I regret more? – not doing it and farming for the next five years seeing the corn bunting, English partridge and lapwings (to name just a few species that are already present), but knowing I’m not doing anything much to increase their numbers.
Or, farming for the next five years wondering when I’ll get paid and any associated effects of late payments?
New tine drill
I’m looking forward to trying something different this spring with the addition of a Dale Eco-L drill to my machinery line-up to give me a tine option as well as the disc option of the John Deere 750a.
The 750a has exceeded all expectations in how it performs and has been very busy, covering a lot of ground since it arrived.
I needed to increase drilling capacity, and there are crops and conditions where a tine may sometimes be a better option, so the addition of the Dale means I can now be flexible, offer both options for contracting and get the increased drilling capacity, so hopefully it’s a win-win. Get in touch if I can help this spring.
Matt Redman operates a contracting business specialising in spraying, Avadex application and direct drilling in Bedfordshire. He also grows cereals on tenancy land and was 2014 Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year.