Farmer Focus Arable: David Sheperdson mends broken drilling tractor

It’s said that things only break when you use them, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when it happens.

After months of wet weather kept us off the land, the first job once it dried up was to put 250 acres of beans in for Wykeham Estate. On the first run down the field our drilling tractor packed up. When we got plugged into the diagnostic laptop, it showed it wasn’t firing on number one injector – it’s incredible the amount of time that is saved by these amazing inventions.

Thankfully, the team at Wilfred Scrutons were able to repair the fault and supplied us with a replacement tractor while ours was out of action, enabling us to complete our spring drilling before the weather broke once more.

The cause of the fault would appear to be a “well-wisher” topping up the tractor’s fuel tank with water (tests showed 10% water in the tank). After testing the bulk tanks and other tractors to find no trace of water, we have consequently purchased a lockable tank lid, which at least will allow us to see if it has been tampered with.

All the crops have had their first dose of nitrogen. With one or two fields showing signs of manganese deficiency, some treatment will be required as soon as the weather allows, but most will have some included with the first fungicide.

The next job will be to get the spring rape established on land that would usually have gone into spring barley. The only negative I remember from the last time we grew any spring rape was how susceptible it was to pollen beetles. However, if we can get somewhere near 2.5/ha and with the considerably lower inputs, it will hopefully fare as well as the winter rape.

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