Archive Article: 2002/08/23

23 August 2002

Spotlight on south-west barometer

Abandoning his own combine in favour of employing two local contractors looks to have been a good decision, says Chris Salisbury from Somerset.

With two farms 20 miles apart that has avoided hold-ups with the combine stopped in one place, when it could be cutting in another, in what has been a been a slow and catchy start to harvest.

In the past the farms own Axial Flow machine was hard pressed to gather all his crops at their optimum time even though ripening differences helped, he says.

"The new arrangement means we can work at both ends at the same time. Its also much less hassle than having your own combine to look after."

First crop cut at Bickenhall Farm near Taunton, apart from whole-crop wheat silage and a urea-treated wet wheat crop, was Shannon oilseed rape taken by contractor Mark Popes MF34.

"I am very pleased to have it finished," says Mr Salisbury. But at only 3t/ha (24cwt/acre) the crops future on the farm remains in doubt. "It was possibly a bit too thick early on, but we really need 3.75t/ha."

Next off were Jalna oats where sowing date had a big impact. "We had some drilled in early October which gave 7.5t/ha, and some in late Nov which did 2.5t/ha less. Both were nice samples."

But despite a robust growth regulator programme, 15ha of the early sowings have had to be left to dry after lodging.

On the land at Yeovil, agronomist Jon Midwoods high input policy for September-drilled Claire winter wheat appears to be rewarding, James Pullens TX66 combine hauling off about 10t/ha (4t/acre).

"That is much better than our average – about 2.5t/ha more," says Mr Salisbury. "The only disappointment is that the sample is a bit pinched, although the specific weight seems OK."

Arrow and Agadir peas were still not quite fit to cut at the start of the week. "The pigeons are really hammering them."

Although the area escaped the worst of the recent storms the new £25,000 mobile 16t batch drier has already been in action.

"For the first time ever we have had to dry our rape, which we started at 12-13%. Wheat at Yeovil began at 17%."

Mr Salisbury is particularly looking forward to seeing how his dairy cows respond to the 250t of urea-treated Consort, Claire and Deben taken at 30% moisture from 25ha. "It is a proven technique but new to us."

Chris Salisbury (centre), here with James Pullens staff Russell Palmer (left) and Phil Derrick, is pleased he has chosen the contract-combining route.

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