Farmer Focus: Unable to drill spring crops on heaviest land

The past few months have been pretty scary to say the least and really quite grounding for most of us, and I would like to thank all the frontline staff, especially those in the NHS, who take risks every day for the good and wellbeing of others. In times like these the real heroes come to the fore. 

Being confined to the office or tractor cab is no real hardship so I’m going to keep my complaining to a minimum.

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The weather has almost been predictable – going from far too wet to far too dry in about three weeks.

We didn’t manage to get drilled up as one of our heaviest blocks of land had completely lost its structure and was basically three inches of concrete on top of six inches of cold wet clay and with no possibility of creating a decent seed-bed.

And as I’ve alluded to in the past, spring crops on heavy land are very unforgiving of poor seed-beds.

We did, however, manage to get 400ha of both spring barley and beans drilled, and on the whole I’m happy – although the beans are, ironically, desperate for rain.

I have to say lockdown has been a hugely productive time in the Challen household, all windows facing south have now been occupied by various plant pots and trays as veg and flower production is in full swing.

One of the stables has been converted to a gym, although I consider this a rumour as I still haven’t ventured in yet in fear that I may get challenged by young Master Challen to pump iron or cycle 50km.

The kitchen has been converted to a “For Farmers” office as Harriet is working from home and although additional quality time with the kids is great, without doubt the best bit has been the huge increase in home baking, with fresh cake nearly every day.

Every cloud has a silver lining. Finally I’d like to say I’m glad to see Boris back at the helm and wish him and his family well.