Richard Cobbald opts for a little but often N strategy

After a week away from the farm over Christmas, I returned to realise that we in this area are in relatively good shape after the horrific weather of 2012.

Although most of the crops are struggling with very wet feet, most of them have established well, and with some good spring weather we can rescue something from a very poor start to the arable farming year.

What the crops will need is early nitrogen, but when do you go, and how many splits should we use? Most of the information I am getting seems to vary, so I think I am going to go with my own thoughts.

Unless I am told otherwise, I am going to use four splits this year, with the first being as soon as we can travel in February, followed by a top up in early March, then back to the normal final two splits. I know this makes for more work, but I just think the first dose needs to be earlier than normal and a little and often approach is the way to go.

I would be very interested to hear from anyone who may have a different opinion, or who thinks I am going mad, but this is not the year to rely on the text book- I think we should go with what we know.

We still have one-third of our beet in the ground and who knows when we will get a harvester back to lift them? I think we may well be in for one of those seasons where the last of the beet is delivered just before we start drilling the next crop. But on a positive note, the crop has yielded better than hoped on the stronger land, so will make up for the rubbish we had on our chalk.

A slightly belated, but a happy and prosperous 2013 to you all.

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