Mike Rowlands 141ha
(350 acre) Bowden Farm,
Burbage, Wilts, is in organic
conversion, with 32ha (80
acres) fully organic from
Oct 99. Potatoes, carrots,
wheat and peas will rotate
with grass for suckler cows.
At Amesbury 404ha (1000
acres) is in conventional
NO sooner than our arable harvest finishes than our root harvest begins!
After a lot of worrying about the cleanliness of our conventionally grown sugar beet, the last spray coped well with the heavy flush of weeds and the beet are now bulking up well. As for growing organic sugar beet, at present I do not feel the premium offered is sufficiently attractive to tempt me.
Our organic potatoes, Cosmos and Valor, have yielded surprisingly well and the size and quality has been excellent. They are now safely gathered in. Conventional maincrop potatoes have been a struggle to spray off with Reglone (diquat) because of the rain. The Estima are all in but Cara are still in the field.
We are always anxious about our autumn drilling date. Not too early from the disease point of view but not too late to risk losing yield is the aim. Our usual target date is Sept 20 but the weather recently has been more like November and that target has slipped by. Conventional drilling is now top priority with Pearl winter barley in and wheat drilling underway.
This years Pearl all went for malting without any trouble which has encouraged us to grow 80ha (200 acres) for seed this year. Malacca wheat made its milling premium and yielded exceptionally well so we shall be majoring on that variety this year.
We shall also grow Savannah, Claire, Hereward and the faithful Spark that does exceptionally well on the chalk and always gets its milling premium. That said, all the winter barley and winter wheat will be for seed this year. We have also introduced Gerald winter oats for the first time as we have dropped linseed.
Where our phosphate and potash indicies are less than two we have spread P & K on the ploughing so it is readily available to the young plants. I am convinced that on our thin chalk this is an essential ingredient to maintaining high yields. Some indices are between zero and one. *
Mike Rowland still has Cara maincrop potatoes to lift and target drilling dates for winter wheat have slipped by on his Wilts farm.