Farmer Focus: Strip till allows slimlined tractor fleet

June is already here, and it’s dry even for us. Current cumulative rainfall stands at 162mm up to the end of May, down 126mm on our five-year average.

We do not have the reserves of last year to carry us through to harvest if we continue with the dry conditions.

However, I am sure it was the sunlight’s energy in June that produced the yields last year, giving us the heavy grain weights.

See also: Grower plans move to organic no-till on wet land

We just need to keep the crops green for as long as we can.

All crops on the whole look very well and currently full of potential. The most satisfying crop this year has to be the spring oats after the disaster last year.

It was rewarding to put two photos together of the same crop 12 months apart. It really shows what a difference a year makes!

Blackgrass

Blackgrass has reared its head again this year. However it is deemed at manageable levels either through spraying off small areas or hand roguing.

What’s interesting this year is that it all seems to be on the boundaries of fields.

There have also been signs of it in a field of wheat that came out of a three-year grass ley, which really does make you wonder where it is coming from.

We are just about to experience another benefit of our strip tillage system as we further reduce our tractor fleet to three.

We have seen our horsepower per hectare reduce from 2.3hp/ha to 1.4hp/ha over the past three years.

Hopefully this will see less capital tied up in power and machinery while still letting us maintain output.

Elsewhere on the farm we have carried out first-cut silage which looks to be of excellent quality but only the analysis will tell.

Once again, we have Ag-bagged our grass silage after last year’s experiment, with hopefully even better results this year.

Fat lambs are also leaving the farm at pace, with a total of 370 sold in an eight-day period, compared with the same week last year where only 39 were sold.