Stewart Hayllor farms 343ha
(850 acres) of owned and
rented land from Blackler
Barton, Landscove, Devon,
growing cereals and
combinable breaks. Organic
vegetables occupy 24ha
(60 acres) and a further
160ha (400 acres) is farmed
DIARY of a contract combine driver. Started travelling at 6am to avoid traffic and arrived at the farm with no problems. Had a steady day combining and left for next farm at 6.30pm, about as planned. However, trying to turn left at the first set of traffic lights, as per my directions, I find the junction is not big enough for the combine. I was forced to drive straight on and take a longer route. That turned out to be a four-mile section of road with no lay-bys and quite a queue of traffic built up behind me. When the first car did pass the passenger demonstrated a few choice hand signals.
Coming to some dual carriageway was a relief until I realised there was no junction where I needed to get off. When I did arrive in the village of next farm I found two cars blocking the road and no owners about. Luckily, a group of runners who couldnt get past me helped bounce the cars sideways and, eventually, I arrived on the farm two hours after setting off. All for a five-mile trip.
Besides such run of the mill problems, harvest is going quite well. Our barley, which was direct drilled into wheat stubble and had no sprays after GS31, keeping variable and operational costs down to £240/ha (£97/acre) in total, yielded 6.92t/ha (2.8t/acre) adjusted to 15% moisture. An exceptional crop of 5.24t/ha (2.12t/acre) of straw is an added bonus. Oats thrashed well at 35-40% moisture and have been crimped for feeding to our cows. Adjusted to 15% moisture they yielded 7.16t/ha (2.9t/acre).
Recent dry hot weather has eased the threat of blight in our organic potatoes but has also reduced the yield potential. Other members of the South Devon Organic Producers Co-op, to which we belong, have harvested lower yields than last year due to the heavy blight pressure. Hopefully, the tighter supplies will be reflected in the price when we come to lift ours.
Hanna barley has done well with extra straw a bonus says Devon grower Stewart Hayllor. But moving between farms has caused a few curses.