Stephen Bumstead farms 148ha
(365-acre) from Ouse Bank
Farm, Great Barford, Beds.
He is a first generation
farmer and council tenant,
growing combinable crops on
three blocks of land. He
supports LEAF and is the
FWAG county treasurer
WELCOME to Ouse Bank Farm run in conjunction with New Manor Farm, Stotfold 15 miles away.
Both are run as one business on Integrated Farm Management principles, aiming for the best possible gross margin, of course.
Cropping this year is Regina and Heligan winter barley, Abbot and Charger winter wheat, some November sown durum wheat, and Scirocco spring beans.
With the wheats, I had the bright idea of reducing seed rates from the ubiquitous 300-350 seeds/sq m to 250 seeds/sq m. That was fine for early drillings, but I was pushing my luck with the November-drilled Charger. I have recently rolled it to try to wake up some extra tillers and have my fingers crossed it will make a reasonable crop.
Most of the winter cereals have had a "breakfast" feed of 88kg/ha (70 units/acre) of ammonium nitrate to awaken them from their winter slumber. That went on in the first week of April and I honestly think they were only just ready for it. Past experience has shown there is little benefit to be had in applying nitrogen before the crop begins to move.
We chop and change breakcrops, but this year it is beans again after a good yield and very pleasing sample with Scirocco last summer. They were drilled at 44 seeds/sq m in mid-March, rather later than I wanted, into a late ploughed seed-bed. Two fields that were dry enough were power harrowed to destroy blackgrass and speedwells, which worked well with the warm dry weather of March. The drill made rapid progress putting seed to bed at a depth of 80 mm (3in), well out of reach of the local rook community.
Emergence has been slower than ideal, but with this bitter cold wind and rain it is as good as could be expected. Like most people I am not overly impressed with the weather at the moment, especially as fieldwork is starting to back up and the crops gather momentum through their growth stages. *
Scirocco spring bean emergence has been slower than new Farmer Focus writer Stephen Bumstead would have liked at Ouse Bank Farm, Beds.