Farmer Focus: Tractor demo prompts start to winter ploughing

As we continue to enjoy relatively dry and mild weather, the end of harvest seems a long time ago.

We finished on 18 September, almost three weeks earlier than last year. It was one of the easiest that we have had, although also one of the poorest due to the impact of the very dry spring and summer.

The upside of this was the significant reduction in drying costs due to the low grain moisture levels.

See also: How to prevent spring barley lodging

Despite high grain nitrogen levels all of our spring barley except the Golden Promise went for malting, although with significant price reductions against the contract price.

Fewer varieties

We did however have issues with getting the barley moved off farm quickly enough, with multiple varieties taking up significant space in our stores and holding up our ability to dry wheat.

To minimise this problem next year I will be looking to reduce the number of varieties that we grow and anticipate that these will be limited to Laureate and Diablo, hopefully still with a small area of Golden Promise to help spread the harvest.

As we look towards next season I have to keep checking the calendar, as in my enthusiasm to start “winter ploughing” I forget that it is still only mid-October.

Starting too early will result in weeds germinating and getting too big ahead of winter setting in. We will however have to make a start this week as we are due a tractor demonstration and need a worthwhile job to try it out.

We have tried a couple of other makes recently and I am pleased to see that manufacturers have made a big leap forward and in-cab screens have caught up with near iPad-like usability.

If I can jump in and find my way around the screen without instruction then that is progress.

In my dreams they will now adopt a common control system that means the user interface is the same whichever colour the tractor is, and when you wirelessly connect the machine on the back, it all just works. Maybe one day!