Andrew Hebditch

30 July 1999

Justin Blackwood

Justin Blackwood farms

770ha (1900 acres) from

Grange Farm, Great

Brington, Northants, on a

range of farming

agreements. Cropping

hinges around winter wheat,

plus winter barley, rape,

peas, oats and occasionally


WE had the first of our new machinery delivered last week: A Simba 3.25m Mono200 with 3.3m double press for use on land requiring busting.

There was 36ha (90 acres) of oilseed rape stubble available to try it out, and the temptation was just too great.

With the five busting legs set at just 12in deep, it took all the FW60s 360hp to pull it, admittedly on some of our heaviest ground and steepest banks. The result after some weathering and slug control should be ideal for our Simba Drill.

Early drilling and lower seed rates are attracting much interest this year. Certainly using a disc, press, stale seed-bed and cultivator drill, we intend to start drilling much earlier. Also with large tractors, discs and heavy cultivator drills you do not want to plan much work for October.

In the past we have started mid-September and finished mid-October. But without the restriction of power harrow seed-bed preparation in advance of the drill, our 6m Simba Free Flow drill should reduce our drill period for 400ha (1000 acres) of wheat from 25-30 days to 10-15 days. If we start second week of September, we should be drilled up on wheat well before the end of the month.

Our main wheat varieties will be Malacca, Claire, Consort and possibly one of the feed wheats Savannah, Madrigal or Equinox. For the first time for a decade there is no place for Riband. Of our main varieties, all are suitable for early drilling and are medium to high tillering. Depending on seed-bed conditions, especially moisture, our intention is to start drilling at 150-200 seeds a sq m increasing to 300/sq m by the end of September.

With seed rates cut by up to 50%, I believe we can justify increased spending on seed dressings. On our earliest drillings we will try some Sibutol Secur (bitertanol+fuberidazole+imidacloprid) for early BYDV (Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus) control and some Baytan (fuberidazole+triadimenol) on varieties more at risk from yellow rust. &#42

Jim Macfarlane

Jim Macfarlane is farm

manager at Edrington

Mains, Foulden,

Berwickshire. Two thirds of

the 330ha (815-acre) unit

is arable, with winter wheat

the main breadwinner,

complemented by malting

barley, winter rape and peas

WEATHER permitting we should be combining by the time you read this.

Most crops look well. I think regular rain and a reasonable amount of sunshine this year has suited them. Large cracks in our heavier soils are good news, too, as they will repair some of the damage done in last years sodden harvest.

Winter barley has been sprayed with 2 litres/ha of glyphosate. At about £4.60/ha (£1.90/acre) it is a bargain even without couch to control. A slight moisture reduction at harvest pays for it, and the stubble will be nice and clean for establishing the following oilseed rape.

On our oilseed rape we are using 3 litres/ha of glyphosate and I have decided to do most of this myself. Our sprayer and tractor have quite good clearance but we only have 15m booms. By doing both this and the full flower spray ourselves we save £15/ha (£6/acre), equivalent to 150kg/ha (1.2cwt/acre) of seed. I am sure we wont lose much more seed than from a contractor application, and our timing should be better given the current showery, unsettled weather. But I will probably curse the extra tramlines at harvest.

We have had two weed control disasters this season. In oilseed rape one field had Butisan S (metazachlor) and Falcon (propaquizafop) early post emergence and control was excellent, but the rest had Kerb (propyzamide) and they are a mess. The rampant sow thistles are over 2m high, and shepherds purse, cleavers and chickweed are covering the ground.

Our other weed control problem is with wild oats in spring barley. Commando (flamprop-M-isopropyl) at full rate in 220 litres/ha of water, applied with standard nozzles, appears to have had no effect whatsoever. This is very annoying when were trying very hard to eliminate our wild oat problem.

Both Kerb and Commando will be avoided in future if at all possible.

Next years nitrogen, Hydro Extran, is being delivered at £86/t, payment December. That is our cheapest ever price, but I have a feeling the benefits of early purchase may be limited this year. &#42

Lloyd Jones

Lloyd Jones farms 175ha

(430 acres) at Hall Farm,

Westbury, Shropshire.

Cereals and potatoes are

rotated with grass and he is

an NFU council member.

Buildings house potato and

cereal seed dressing lines

COMBINING started with winter barley on July 17, one of our earliest starts.

The crop was much better than last years appalling 5t/ha (2t/acre), but at 6.7t/ha (2.7t/acre) it was still disappointing, albeit a very good sample. Winter oats give us a break for wheat and if they perform as well as they look it begs the question whether to drill any barley at all this autumn. We shall know the answer in about a weeks time.

Linseed has at last finished flowering and wheat is turning slowly, as is spring barley.

Routine blight spraying on the potatoes is being disrupted by showery and windy weather patterns, but to date the crops are clean. We are applying Mandate 75 (mancozeb) at 1.7kg/ha and on the seed crop of Hermes adding an aphicide. Both Ministry inspections have been passed without hand roguing which is a credit to the seed supplier.

We expect to have started processing certified seed barley for our local merchants G O Davies by the end of the week. Their variety plans look like centring on Regina, Jewell and Hanna, and wheat varieties Consort, Madrigal and Equinox.

As a large area of cereals in this part of the country follows grass, the ban on Lindane (gamma-HCH) is going to cause a problem. Seemingly there is no cost-effective wireworm dressing available now.

With large amounts of bagged produce stored on the premises it is reassuring to have vermin controlled by our local borough council. Its operators make routine monthly visits, and whenever we report a problem. Not only is the service very effective, but the contract was considerably more competitive than private quotes we had.

With regard to house building, Malcolm and his team completed the slab a month ago. Drains and services are being installed and next week they start the walls. The roof should be on in four months, by which time the rush and panic on the farm should be over. Roll on Christmas! &#42

Andrew Hebditch

Andrew Hebditch farms

285ha (700 acres) of

owned, tenanted and

share-farmed land at Coat,

Martock, Somerset. Silt

and clay soils support

winter wheat, barley and

oilseed rape, plus spring

peas, linseed and beans

OUR combine moved in to the first field of Fanfare winter barley on July 18.

But the suns refusal to shine for more than 10 minutes at a time and my reluctance to dry, meant that we did not finish our 22ha (55 acres) until five days later. We still had to take out 1% with the crop refusing to drop much below 16% moisture.

Estimated yield is 7.4t/ha (3t/acre), about average for us, with a specific weight of over 70kg/hl. Surprisingly, screenings over a 2.25mm sieve are about 9%, so it is a good job we opted to grow for feed. Barley will be dropped next year, as the figures do not add up with prices less than £70/t.

Next the combine will be in to some swathed oilseed rape, which shows promise, and then in to the area desiccated in early July with 3 litres/ha of Roundup (glyphosate). Wheats are a fortnight away with peas probably coming first.

We will have all first wheats next year as break crops make up 50% of our area this harvest. Our small area of Savannah is looking good, so we will probably home-save that, and use our Buchan for early drilling. Charger will get the chop due to standing ability, unless someone comes up with a big milling premium.

Peas and beans are to stay, as yields are usually good, and linseed probably has another year. Against my better judgement oilseed rape will stay, but on a smaller acreage. My gut feeling is that acreage will be down across Europe and hence area payments should, assuming no overshoot, be up to reasonable levels.

Last week the boys in blue gave our driver carting grain a bit of a slapped wrist and a £20 fine for no registration plates on the trailer. It was a fair cop, but with quad bikes disappearing by the dozen, including ours, and burglary a regular and rarely solved crime locally, one has to ask are the resources aimed in the right direction? &#42

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