Matt Redman goes back to the classroom

It’s hard to believe that this time last year, we had already seen snow and were in the middle of a period of freezing weather. This year we’ve had only a handful of frosts so far and I won’t mention the amount of rain we haven’t had. It’s been a luxury not having to keep anti-freezing the sprayer or thawing water troughs.

November has felt like being back at school: I seem to have spent more time in a classroom, reading books and revision notes or writing up a report than anything else. I’m now over half way through my Basis training and after a day spent learning about potato diseases and weed control, I’m glad it is a crop we don’t grow. I definitely feel it’s a qualification that more farmers should have, especially with the tighter rules likely to be placed regarding pesticide use in the future.

All of the Altantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) due to be sprayed this autumn has been completed, most under perfect conditions. We might have a problem with control if there is still a lot to germinate after the dry autumn. Blackgrass control in oilseed rape will be the next focus, with both Kerb (propyamide) and Crawler (carbetamide) being used in some areas. However, with the ground temperatures only recently getting cool enough, it’s been something we haven’t pushed on with.

The result of sitting on a tractor seat for many unsociable hours has meant Christmas will be coming slightly early for me, with the arrival of my new “toy” hopefully this week. What it is exactly will have to wait until next year; but it does mean that I now share more in common with Italy than just a taste for pasta and pizza.

I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year; hopefully Santa will bring you the weather you wanted.

Matt Redman is arable foreman for A G Burton & Partners, Silsoe, Bedfordshire. The 530ha farm grows 350ha of wheat, oilseed rape and beans and 80ha forage maize.

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