Archive Article: 1998/10/23

23 October 1998

Simon Wadlow

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

WHAT a difference a month makes! Within two days of writing last months diary we had the winter beans safely in the barn.

But, as suspected, yield was very poor at 3.1t/ha (1.25t/acre). At only £70/t, even allowing for area payment, that is disastrous. I have beans again, but for how much longer I am not sure. Having checked thousand grain weight I am reducing seed rate to 100kg/ha (89lb/acre) to avoid the high plant population I had this year.

Wheat sowing began in late September. Consort went in after oilseed rape and a three-week slug battle started. Despite a well-consolidated seed-bed, up to three applications of various pellets have been needed for control.

Consort after beans and sugar beet accounts for nearly half our wheat area. With Aintree oats and Regina barley completed, we started drilling Abbott recently. If the weather holds, we should soon have only Charger, after sugar beet, and beans still to sow.

The first beet, Madison, was lifted by six-row tanker harvester and delivered within five days. Before the advent of six-row tanker harvesters I would have considered the field too heavy for beet. It was not sown until May 5 and due to soil type needed lifting while conditions were good. So I was reasonably pleased with an adjusted yield of 37t/ha (15t/acre), considering the sugar content was only 16.3%.

Last night I went to an NFU meeting about the new working time directive which fills me with horror. I know we can opt out of the 48hr week, but we must comply with rules concerning rest periods. In a difficult year like this, our farm work has only been done because my staff are prepared, and I hope happy, to work when weather permits.

The cost implications of compulsory rest periods and time off in lieu, are horrendous, not to mention the extra record keeping. If a piece of legislation was drafted to stifle enterprise, this is it.

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