Maize disappointment mixed with crop walk highs

A precision farming forum organised by our local John Deere dealer proved an interesting and useful evening this month, with a like-minded group of farmers coming together.

One of the main topics was the reliability and accuracy of mobile signals and the possibility of using the mobile network instead of RTK masts.

The maize was all established this year with the Kockerling drill. We just drilled straight into the seed-bed that was created before the rain and laid the seed on the wet soil. In the high temperatures it emerged in four days.

We managed to sort out a sensible row width, but there was some bunching and gaps up the rows. The main problem was with calibration, although we had it sorted out by the time we got to the cover strips.

I notice on my travels we are not the only ones suffering from poor control of grass weeds in cereals this year.

Despite the crops showing plenty of promise, I really feel a sense of “I could have done better” when I see weeds appearing above the crops.

We grow mostly milling wheat here because of our inherently low yields, so a T3 is normal. This year looks like one where it really will add to our yield, as well as protect the quality of the grain.

Definitely my highlight of the farming year so far has been a trip up in a very small helicopter – it is an amazing way to crop “walk”.

I don’t have much of a head for heights, so take-off was interesting, but after that I really enjoyed it. For once our variable soils have produced some very even-looking crops.

Since the flight I have been boring everyone rigid with the videos and pictures I took of the estate.

Simon Beddows manages 1,000ha of arable land at Dunsden Green, south Oxfordshire. Cropping is cereals, oilseed rape, beans and forage maize.

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