Brian Hammond is farm
manager for Carnreagh
Farms at the 182ha (450-
acre) Ballyalloly Farm,
Comber, Co Down where he
grows 50ha (125 acres) of
potatoes as well as cereals
and oilseed rape
AN INCH of snow on the last day of February came just in time to slow things down a bit. Summer-like weather earlier in the month meant crops were in danger of overheating. As it is, OSR looks as if it will be in full flower by Easter.
Winter barley was also giving some concern. By the end of February growth stage was dictating an early start to applications of nitrogen, pgr and fungicide to control mildew.
But starting in late February would have been complete folly. All subsequent timings, especially for fungicides, would have needed moving forward too, leaving the crop at risk nearer harvest.
Traditionally, first nitrogen application on winter barley has not been until the second or third week of March. And for years now we have adopted the principle that once you start a crop growing you must keep it going with a maximum of three weeks between first and second nitrogen application or 2.5kg N/ha (2 units N/acre) a day.
Fertilising and spraying will be simpler this year with the purchase of a second Kane Lightfoot LGP vehicle. Our original Lightfoot, bought new and now in its 10th season, was starting to show its age.
The machine we have bought was just a chassis cab belonging to the electricity service to which we have fitted a second hand Lely sprayer. The 18m (58ft) aluminium booms have been extended to 20m (65.6ft). Total cost was around £6000.
During the spring, the older machine will be used to spread fertiliser and the new one for spraying, thus saving a lot of hassle changing from the spreader to the sprayer and back again.
Once all top dressing has been completed, we will run both machines in spraying mode. This will give us enough capacity, in theory, to spray all cereals in one day, and blight spray all potatoes in one afternoon.
Speedy sprayer…Brian Hammonds new 20m LGPcost £6000. Working alongside an existing machine, all cereals can now be sprayed in just one day.