Farmer Focus: Rain for 18 days – sadly, a familiar feeling

A few days on the stunning Scottish island of Islay was the perfect pre-drilling break, even though I lost more golf balls on the very tricky links course than I care to remember.

Charlie caught only tiddlers when fishing the beautiful lochs, and the dog caught ticks in the heather.

Watching some barley being harvested in less than ideal ground conditions highlighted how peat may be great for adding flavour to whisky but it’s not always plain sailing farming on it.

See also: Two growers’ experiences with March-drilled winter wheat

On our return home, Hew had the Sly drill ready to roll and we got a good chunk of Skyfall in direct into linseed stubble.

Then, followed 18 days with rain at some point every day giving us 170mm in that time. All depressingly familiar to last year.

We have had a brief window to rush about and get more in the ground in less than ideal conditions, this time resorting to the tined Horsch drill.

We took the view that the intended pre-emergence Crystal + DFF should instead probably be applied early post-emergence due to the depth of soil covering the seed probably not consistent enough, added to the threat of further heavy rain.

There are reports of seedling loss this year from herbicide damage, particularly on headlands where water has ponded and the seed has sat in the herbicide.

A pleasing sight, I suppose, when tramping around the farm after heavy rain is seeing our new land drains flowing about one third bore with lovely clean water. These drains are already paying for themselves.

We are in the process of getting quotes for the next block of land to be drained on our chalky boulder clay which, unlike the London clay on most of our land has the added problem of oxide build-up at the outfalls.

These lumps are a bit like stalactites formed when the water flows through the chalk and can cause a complete blockage in a pipe. There is no doubt about it, we have some drains that are just not pulling their weight for us any longer.

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