Farmer Focus: Still drilling winter wheat as rabbits graze

A few weeks of dry weather recently allowed more winter wheat to be drilled into good seed-beds, with most now emerging. It won’t be a bumper crop, but hopefully it will be better than spring barley.

Considering the winter weather, I am pleased with how crops look.

There are a few problem areas that need drainage attention, but I am at last starting to feel like all the work I’ve done over the past few years is starting to pay off.

See also: Crop nutrition focus saves farmer over £43,000 on costs

About the author

Matt Redman
Farmer Focus writer
Matt Redman farms 370ha just north of Cambridge and operates a contracting business specialising in spraying and direct-drilling. He also grows cereals on a small area of tenancy land and was Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year in 2014.
Read more articles by Matt Redman

However, rabbits seem to have made more of an appearance. They have severely grazed quite a few acres of winter wheat, and have kept some margins, pollen and nectar plots mown like a lawn.

I’m looking forward to getting some rabbit fencing installed around a few fields with the mid-tier capital option, now I’ve finally got my new agreement. 

It is much the same as the old one, so will have limited impact on what happens on the ground, other than a few new capital items to help improve the farm.

Along with some Sustainable Farming Incentive options, it should help utilise the parts of the farm that struggle to give a decent return.

At this month’s AHDB Monitor Farm meeting we discussed soil management, mole ploughing and low-disturbance soil loosing.

We also discussed tyre technology, and the benefits of fitting the correct tyres and pressures to increase yield and protect soil structure.

It was a well-attended meeting, and I hope everyone went away with lots to think about, like I did.

I’ve carried out some mole ploughing each year after harvest, but conditions are always borderline too dry, or we just don’t have the time.

After discussing the correct conditions at the Monitor Farm meeting, and now I have a bigger tracked tractor for the job, I may do some problem areas through the crop this spring.

Fingers crossed for a decent February and March. The fields across the country are going to be very busy, playing catch-up, and turning things around for another harvest.

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