Harvest grinds to a halt for Andy Barr

We combined for a day, but have now stopped. No, it’s not a breakdown or rain, but frustratingly, given the 30C heat, there is simply nothing else ready.

However, our winter barley did yield 40% more than on the same bit of land last year. To be honest it’s less exciting than it sounds as it’s very light sand and in 2011 gave a record low yield after much of the crop died before the rain came – this year it’s back to the heady heights of “average”. Amazingly it was sodden on the Friday, but cut at 12% grain moisture on the Monday.

Our oilseed rape is a week or so behind normal, with the direct drilled area looking as good as any. Although this technique has also been good against blackgrass, I am concerned about the effects all this rain might have had on the soil structure where the next crop will be planted, and investigation is required. Perhaps it’s the baking sun sending me mad, but I’ve experimented with spreading cover crops into standing wheat, have some oilseed rape companion crop seed on order and hope to have fellow FW contributor Andy Pendry treat some of my rape with an inter-row glyphosate sprayer this autumn.

It’s good to see the NFU is working hard, not only for dairy producers, but also on the arable front. After two years of battling, the Red Tractor assurance scheme is now recognised EU-wide, and the “NUTS2” study (don’t ask!) which decided most of our rape was not produced sustainably enough for biofuel is being rethought.

Discussions continue to ensure we can all tow grain trailers legally and safely and an investigation into pesticide availability is under way. Most importantly, determined lobbying continues regarding the incredibly complicated intricacies and implications of CAP greening proposals.

Andy Barr farms 630ha on a mixed family farm in mid-Kent, including 430ha mainly of winter wheat, oilseed rape and spring barley. The rest is taken up by an OELS scheme and grazing for 500 Romney ewes and 40 Sussex cattle.

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