Andrew Hebditch

4 August 2000

Andrew Hebditch

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

HARVEST started on July 24 here, with 20ha (50 acres) of winter barley cut for a couple of neighbouring farms. That came off at about 16% moisture, 69-70 kg/hl and yielded 6.2-6.8t/ha (2.5-2.75t/acre). After a wet winter and dull wet April these low yields were not unexpected.

On July 27 we went into our Pronto oilseed rape, direct cutting without desiccation. Everything was standing and it was probably the easiest ever to combine. Moisture was about 11% and again yields were down at about 3.1t/ha (25cwt/acre). Dull weather at flowering and, possibly the more serious yield sapper, sulphur deficiency depressed the yields. It is the first year we have omitted a foliar application – an economy not to be repeated.

Nitouche combining peas are still standing but are some way off combining. Solara peas will have headlands desiccated with 3 litres/ha of glyphosate as they are on the floor and should go on Monday. All the wheats are ripening fairly quickly, but I cannot see us cutting any before the middle of the month. Hopefully that is an indication of some useful yields. One or two areas of couch grass will be sprayed off pre-harvest with glyphosate to allow timely direct-drilled oilseed rape to be established after the straw is cleared. One bonus this year is the value of straw in the swath. Barley is trading at £85-£100/ha (£35-40/acre) and wheat at up to £62/ha (£25/acre) in this area.

With the future of farming in question and government seemingly indifferent to our problems I, along with many people in our industry, have taken the decision to employ someone else to sit in the tractor seat. That will allow me to retrain myself in an entirely different profession, and in due course earn an income that is a fair reward for the time and effort involved. It is a very sad indication of the times we live in when a 290ha (720 acre) farm such as ours cannot return a reasonable standard of living.

Combines are rolling with barley and oilseed rape cut on Andrew Hebditchs farm in Somerset.

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