Farmer Focus: Tweaking next year’s cropping plans

Harvest kicked off on 16 July with some contract combining in winter barley and, apart from a couple of first-day teething issues, everything went smoothly and at the time of writing we are now parked up waiting for oilseed rape to be ready.

This year I have fitted an RDS weigh system to the trailers to, hopefully, get a better indication of what is in the store, and to calibrate the yield monitor on the combine more accurately.

I have heard good reports about the system, so fingers crossed it lives up to them.

In between harvest we have a number of projects on the go around the farm to increase productivity and improve the yard.

See also: How a grower uses cultivations and precision tech to kill slugs

As part of my mid-tier stewardship I’m building a bunded and covered sprayer filling area with a biofilter system, and alongside it will be my liquid fertiliser tanks and chemical store to create a single sprayer filling area in the corner of the yard.

We are also removing an old hardcore track that extends out into a field and currently has to be worked around – removing it will save a lot of time with machinery in the field and provide some useful material for the work in the yard, so it is a win-win job.

Cropping plans for next year are still as undecided as they have been all year. Oilseed rape hasn’t been dropped just yet: I’m planning on waiting to see what the conditions are as fields become clear.

If conditions are good I will plant some in with a mixture of clover and vetch, but only about half the usual area. The rest will be winter beans, or potentially some winter linseed.

Wheat variety wise, I am sticking with Skyfall but dropping Zyatt and Barrel and moving to Skyscraper and Gravity with a small amount of Extase.

The mid-tier stewardship plots that have been drilled in the past couple of months have started growing fast and some are starting to flower.

I am looking forward to seeing what the various different mixes look like once established, and what different wildlife they attract.

The next phase of the mid-tier scheme is to get the pollen and nectar and grass margins established before the end of August – once these are going they will really transform the look of the farm, and complete the wildlife pathways across it as the scheme was planned to do.

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