Farmer Focus: Rutted tramlines and no spring barley drilled

It’s turning out to be a tricky year again. If you add last November’s rain to March’s rain, it’s just below our average rainfall for the year.

The consequences are rutted tramlines and not one acre of spring barley drilled yet.

See also: Video: UK’s largest agroforestry system integrates fruit and arable

About the author

Keith Challen
Arable Farmer Focus writer
Keith Challen manages 1,200ha of heavy clay soils in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, for Belvoir Farming Company. Cropping includes wheat, oilseed rape and elderflowers. The farm is also home to the Belvoir Fruit Farms drinks business.
Read more articles by Keith Challen

Typically, our heaviest ground goes to spring barley. We almost got dry enough in February, but then it rained.

I was always taught that soils need to be warm and seed-beds good for best results – well, we certainly are not there yet.

Adding insult to injury, most of my neighbours with lighter land are drilled up.

Interestingly, where we have winter bird feeding plots the ground is even wetter, so I’m not quite convinced a cover crop would have helped.

Last month, I mentioned we suffered with some frost lift. Those areas have either improved or died, making it easier to determine where to apply inputs.

Thanks to those who emailed me with similar conditions – again, it’s nice not to be alone with this.

The constant rain has made the season already feel pressured, with little opportunity for getting on. We’ve used an inhibitor again in the liquid nitrogen to hopefully help reduce its mobility.

Pre-T0 tissue analysis results are in and we seem to be short of the usual suspects – copper, boron and zinc.

These will be added to the tank mix should a window of opportunity arise, although looking at the forecast T0 could soon be a T1 timing.

The fear going forward is the development of shallow-rooted wheat crops due to the excess rainfall.

A growth regulator is paramount in building root architecture and if I were a betting man I’d have a pound on a May drought.

Finally, I would like to thank those who have sponsored my children Harriet and James for their upcoming charity parachute jump.

We have already doubled our initial target, which is fantastic especially as we know this money will help make a difference.

To those of you who suggested I should do it – well, they don’t make a parachute strong enough!

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