Farmer Focus: Heat suits harvest, but not pigs

I never thought I would be sat in the garden chilling out while writing this August article.

The combining is nearly done, with just 42ha (104 acres) of spring barley left. This could do with a few more days of sun before we finish off. 

The early harvest has been truly welcome for us after having to buy in cereals to keep us going in the home mill and mix for the past couple of months.

See also: Harvest 2022: Wheat holding up well despite month-early harvest

About the author

Jack Bosworth
Livestock Farmer Focus writer Essex pig farmer Jack Bosworth farms 263ha of arable and a 540-sow farrow-to-finish operation in partnership with his family. About 60% of pigs are finished at home and 150 are sent to a farm in Norfolk to finish on a bed and breakfast contract.
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Yields have been pleasing overall, even with nothing being harvested above 13.5% moisture. 

First winter barley averaged 9.34t/ha on our own ground. Second winter barley averaged 8.17t/ha where we have cropping licences. Spring barley has so far averaged 8.35t/ha. 

First and second winter wheat averaged 10.23t/ha and 8.5t/ha at home, respectively, and yielded 8.98t/ha and 8.59t/ha on cropping licence ground.

Continuous winter wheat averaged 7.7t/ha in its fifth year. 

Hot weather has been brilliant for harvesting, but challenging for the pigs.

I’m very grateful our team prioritise animal welfare, which has meant many early starts in the past month to get feeding, moving and serving done in better temperatures for the pigs. 

The next job on the list after combining and bale collection will be spreading slurry and farmyard manure (FYM). 

The plan for the slurry is to spread it on barley stubble and drill oilseed rape straight after using our new Weaving LD Top-Soiler and Magnum seeder.

We need some rain before doing either of these operations, or we will lose the slurry below the target area.

Our latest slurry analysis has just come back with the following values of key nutrients: total nitrogen measured 3.4kg/cu m; ammonium nitrogen was 2.82 kg/cu m; phosphorus was 0.46 kg/cu m, and potassium was 3.15 kg/cu m. The analysis was done on separated slurry at 1.57% dry matter.

The FYM (mixed with the solids from the separator) will be applied to nearby land on cropping licence as part of our phosphate and potassium contribution. I am still waiting on the analysis of this.

I hope the rest of harvest goes well for everyone and fingers crossed that those of us who want rain get it soon.