Will Howe indulges in one of his pet hates

I am guilty of indulging in one of my pet hates. No it wasn’t benefit fraud, or towing a caravan on a busy road oblivious to all around me, but recreational cultivation. And it appears that I may pay for my sins.

All the land that was cultivated pre-drilling with the honest intention of a good blackgrass chit has now served its purpose. I have a great flush of blackgrass, the only problem is the crop of wheat among it.

Fortunately the weather is being kind, which is allowing autumn Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) to be applied in the hope that its efficiency may be improved by hitting a smaller target while the temperature is still warm enough.

With this blackgrass issue in mind, my 50/50 wheat/rape rotation may be revised for next year to include a small area of spring beans, linseed or fallow. Fallow is the least favoured option principally because I am a farmer. This by definition means I predominantly like to grow stuff, with the economics of the crop being outweighed by the thrill of nurturing the plants to their potential. On a more serious note, this land does not seem to respond well to being left bare for 12 months, so crop cover is essential.

With soil health in mind, I applied some gypsum this autumn to some fields which are notoriously hard to work and have high magnesium levels. As it was only worked in with the drill, the longer-term benefits may be harder to see, but it does seem less sticky to walk on. My only reservation is with the application. The first day was perfectly still, but the gypsum formed a perfect mushroom cloud in the outer atmosphere. On the second day there was a light breeze which meant my neighbour has benefited as much. Does anyone have a more controlled way of spreading it?

Farmer Focus: Will Howe

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