Simon Wadlow farms 200ha
(500 acres) at The Croft,
near Bridgnorth, Shropshire.
Key crops are winter wheat
and sugar beet, plus winter
oats, barley, oilseed rape
and beans. Forage maize,
set-aside and pasture make
up the balance
WHEN I wrote Aprils diary we had just started sowing sugar beet.
The weather was kind and we completed the job without interruption. All fields needed two power harrow passes and one had to have three to achieve a reasonable seed-bed.
All seed was Gaucho (imidacloprid) treated, which was just as well as aphids are present on untreated crops and so pressure has been taken off the sprayer. Varieties are Zulu, Madison and Madrid. Spacing was 19cm in 50cm rows and for the first time for many years a pre-emergent herbicide has not been used.
After sowing a small amount of fodder beet for neighbours we turned our attention to forage maize. Since it is after stubble turnips grazed by sheep, it had not been possible to prepare the field at all.
With a hired muck spreader we soon had a liberal dose of fym spread over the entire 12ha (30 acres). Compaction was evident so we went over the whole field with the flat lift. After ploughing and two passes with the power harrow all was ready for the contractor to sow.
As last year we are growing two varieties, Calypso and Janna, in alternate rows so that if they are not at the same stage of maturity at harvest they will be mixed together. Seed rate was 105,000/ha and Gesaprim (atrazine) pre-emergence herbicide was applied at 2 litres/ha. Not sown until May 15 the crop was nearly fully emerged in seven days and is growing well.
I recently joined the Maize Growers Association and on its advice I shall reduce the amount of nitrogen applied this year (the saving will more than pay for the subscription).
Our set-aside follows sugar beet where the tops were grazed, so there was no green cover. To create some and give a fertility boost we have planted mustard at 8kg/ha (7lb/acre) at a cost of £11/ha (£4.45/acre).
Three weeks after drilling the beet was sprayed with Betanal Progress (desmedipham + ethofumesate + phenmedipham)/ Goltix (metamitron) at 1 litre/ha/ 1.25kg/ha. After good germination it is making a valiant attempt to catch up its earlier sown rivals. *
Confidence that post-emergence treatments would suffice meant Simon Wadlows sprayer has not been required for pre-emergence beet spraying this spring.