Bill Harbour

27 February 1998

Bill Harbour

Bill Harbour, this years

southern barometer farmer,

is manager for Gosmere

Farm Partners at 448ha

(1107-acre) Gosmere Farm,

Sheldwich, Faversham,

Kent. Crops include wheat,

barley, oilseed rape, peas

and beans plus

cherries under Countryside

Steward scheme.

DRY weather has let us get on; ploughing is done and we tried out a Case MX135 and a New Holland 8640.

Both about 135hp, they did the job OK, but though manufacturers say they listen to what we want, I still think they are a bit deaf.

The winter beans have been harrowed and sprayed with 1.5 litres/ha of simazine. Last years yield has been confirmed as 173.34t off 26ha. It is a pity only 50t went for seed. Surely a lot more people would like to grow beans?

The peas have all gone as well, with 168.2t sold off 40ha. That is not as good as usual, but not bad for an outclassed variety. We achieved good grades, with waste and stain averaging 5.3% and 136t getting a seed premium. This years seed will be delivered any day and by the time you read this I will be itching to get them in, provided the soil is warm enough.

All the oilseed rape has had Sulphur Gold at 250kg/ha of product (30%N:10%S03). Some also went on to the last sown wheat, which suffered rabbit and game damage.

That has given us a chance to try out the new ZAM Maxtronic spreader with 2t hoppers. After some years of good service and looking at all other makes we bought another Amazone.

Once calibrated, it made life much easier. Key in the details and off you go – 80-100ha a day with the two of us using 500kg bags and the JCB.

It is amazing, with fallen grain prices, that merchants and manufacturers are inviting us out to learn about "new chemistry", and some not-so-new chemistry. We would like to know if prices will come down in line with wheat returns, and will product be rationed?

Do not forget to light the beacons tonight and go to London on Sunday. &#42

The two-man team at Gosmere Farm has been flying across 80-100ha a day of top-dressing, helped by a new spreader, 500kg bags, and the JCB. But Bill Harbour would like to know, will input costs reflect fallen grain prices?

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