Bill Harbour

6 November 1998




Bill Harbour

Bill Harbour, last 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

SO far we have had 140mm (5.5in) of rain in October and only eight days without rain. Even on our boys land in Gods own county things are rather wet.

A season like this makes our system struggle, as nearly 80% of our 470ha (1160 acres) is autumn drilled, not including winter beans. We still have a third of our winter wheat to drill.

In an average year we can cope. The JD6800, Case MX135, and the JCB525-58, at 120hp, 140hp and 90hp respectively make 350hp, or 0.74hp/ha. I would like to have more power available and I am rather envious when I see what some people have got. However, it has to be paid for and with current prices that is not so easy.

That said, in a year like this I would rather have more seed in the ground than in the shed. Only time will tell how much yield we lose.

We have exported a lot of our set-aside and have only got 13.5ha (33 acres) left. On 10ha (25 acres), 4 litres/ha of glyphosate has gone on to kill off the 5-6 years of grass. A spring wheat seed crop of variety Samoa will go in as soon as we can get to it.

All the oilseed rape has been treated for slugs as well as some of the wheat having put bait traps out after the drill. I have used Metarex (metaldehyde) in view of the wet conditions.

The case of our new Case MX135 is sub judice – I will tell all next time. Interestingly Case have laid off staff at Doncaster. I hope for everyones sake it was the Friday afternoon shift.

How do tyre makers get away with it? I find it incredible that a 600mm (23.6in) tyre can have a narrower footprint than a 520mm (20.8in) one. Could it be that Michelins Mr Bibendum is a bit slimmer these days?

How do the tyre makers get away with it, asks Kent grower Bill Harbour? A smaller footprint on new, apparently wider tyres is puzzling.


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