Neil Thomson trials satellite imaging to cut nitrogen costs

Last month, I told you I was taking part in our local musical society’s performance of Guys and Dolls, and that I only had one line to remember.


However, nobody counted on one of the leading characters, Big Jule, played by a 6ft 10in man, falling and banging his head in the opening scene, leaving him concussed and unable to continue. Guess who had to step in? The audience was firstly confused, then highly amused by the bumbling stand-in, who suddenly now had whole paragraphs of script to recite. Believe me, I was terrified.

A lot has happened on farm since then. Spring crops were drilled into good conditions and the beans and the earliest sown barley have already emerged. One stubborn field remains to be sown though, and continues to be a problem as it was severely damaged when harvesting potatoes in the autumn.

We have had some timely showers, but as I write, cruel winds are not only interrupting the excellent Lambing Live, they are sucking up that valuable moisture from soil. Watching the programme does not make me want to rush back into sheep production, but it is doing a fantastic job educating the public, including my own children, who have sadly forgotten what lambing is like. My son has been dispatched to his grandparents to relearn some of the reasons why we don’t have sheep.

The fertiliser programme is up to date. This year we are trying a new technique of looking at satellite field images to fine tune their nitrogen requirements. Despite being convinced of the benefits of variable applications of P and K, in my mind, the jury is still out over the effectiveness of this technique. I hope my scepticism is misguided.

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