John Best farms 320ha
(791 acres) from Acton House
Farm, Pointspass, Co Down.
oats and potatoes are main
crops on his 220ha (544 acres)
of clay loam arable land
MUCH of the past month has been spent in the office dealing with paperwork on IACS, Beef Special Premium, and cattle movement permits.
Such chores hammer home how the declining value of the k is rapidly eroding our support payments. My concern was further compounded by a recent visit from a New Zealand farmer who runs a low cost system and seems reasonably content with his lot.
Listening to Nick Brown at the Ulster Farmers Union AGM did little to promote optimism, unless one aspires to be a park keeper. As one delegate commented during question time, the only time the minister sounded sincere was when was criticising the previous government. But we are fortunate in having elected a very astute candidate as deputy president of the Union, one who is more than capable of holding his own in the political arena.
Recent good weather has seen our crops recover from a cold end to April and 70mm (2.8in) of rain, that checked forward cereals and delayed potato planting.
In April, all wheat had 60kg/ha (48 units/acre) of nitrogen and 12kg/ha of sulphur (10 units/acre) and the early-drilled crops have had a second application, bringing the total to date to 180kg/ha (144 units/ acre). Final applications will be made at the end of May, tuned to match the yield potential of each field.
Wheat has also had 1.4 litres/ha of chlormequat and 0.8 litres/ha of Starane (fluroxypyr). Jubilee (metsulfuron-methyl) was added where speedwells were a problem and last week we got on with fungicides. Mildew is almost non-existent on the wheat and septoria levels are low. Last week we applied 0.7 litres/ha of Opus (epoxiconazole) or 0.9 litres/ha of Granit (bromuconazole). Opus has performed well in the past, but I thought I would try Granit in a number of fields this season.
The Oats are growing rapidly with some mildew in the base of the crop. Fortress (quinoxyfen) should keep it at bay. That went on at 0.15 litres/ha with Bettaquat (chlormequat) and manganese. *
A session of form filling really brings home the impact of sterlings strength, says John Best, and farm minister, Nick Brown, offered little support at the Ulster Farmers Union AGM.