Mike Allwood is owner-
occupier of 82ha (200-
acres) near Nantwich,
Cheshire. The 175-cow dairy
herd block calves during
May and June. Besides
converting to organic
production, he is also
planning to produce
WE managed to keep the cows out during the wet weather – just. I had kept the two driest grazing fields in reserve, and by entering them at a different point every grazing we managed to keep poaching damage to a minimum.
Because of our early turnout we already have many fields coming back round for a second grazing and I now have to decide which of them will be shut up for silage.
We will make our first cut in two batches; one early in May, if the weather is fine, and the other at the end of the month. By doing this I hope we will have new grazings coming through in both May and June, for our fresh calvers.
The best laid plans never come to fruition. I had planned to plant spring wheat undersown with grass/clover, but by early May no cultivation has been done as the fields have been too wet.
Unfortunately, we have already subsoiled two paddocks and spread muck – with accompanying ruts – on all four. To compound things, the grass was too long for ploughing so we grazed it with dry cows in the worst of the rain. All in all, we now have a bit of a mess.
I think it is too late to sow wheat, so we are going to use harrows, roller, topper and dry cows in various combinations to tidy these fields up, and reconsider our options in mid summer.
Recently a neighbouring farmer came to tell me that he was going to host one of the latest GM trials. I was disappointed because I think GM crops may do untold long term damage to us and the environment. I may also lose my Soil Association licence if they decide that my crops can be polluted from his trial sites.
As a result, I have to fill in a risk assessment form detailing my field by field cropping for the next two years, maps showing our distance from the site and direction of prevailing winds. Yet more paperwork that I could have done without.
I also found myself talking about GMs on local TV news. Consequently, they were queuing for my autograph at the rowing club the following night. *
Mike Allwoods early start to grazing means he has to work out which fields on his second grazing round will have to be shut up for silage.