Dennis Ford farms 384ha
(950 acres) from Home
Farm, Hinton Parva,
Swindon, Wilts. One-third is
owned, two-thirds tenanted
and a small area contract
farmed. Cropping is winter
wheat, barley, rape and
beans, plus spring rape,
linseed and flax
NEVER mind a week in politics – what a difference a month can make in farming.
Since the last article we have had a dry and mild time, so much so that we have more than caught up with the work. The winter oilseed rape has begun to move and we have completed two applications of nitrogen, so far totalling 175kg/ha (140 units/acre).
Mike, our agronomist, has taken tissue samples and the results have shown phosphorus, sulphur, manganese and boron levels are normal, although potassium, magnesium and copper are all little low. That is what we would expect on the light, puffy downland.
Last week we completed the planting of the Optic spring barley. As planned we disced and coil rolled and then ring rolled in front of the drill and ring rolled again. This proved successful, giving us a firm seed-bed, stopping us from planting too deep and at a reasonable cost.
The seed was planted at a rate of 380/sq m and had a seed dressing of film-coated Panoctine (guazatine + imazalil), manganese and a root growth promotant. This should give it a good start.
All the second wheats have now had 43kg/ha of nitrogen, as has the winter barley. The first wheats have had no treatment yet, but the earlier wheats have now reached growth stage 30 and are due for a growth regulator. But with winter weather expected to return we decided to wait and see what happens.
The ground has dried out enough for sewage sludge to be delivered and spreading has been completed. That has allowed us to plough the clay cap ground and to get some weathering before planting with spring oilseed rape.
One field of Hereward wheat has been treated for manganese deficiency and was given 2.5 litres/ha of liquid manganese. It is now showing signs of recovery. *
Tissue tests revealed extra nutrient needs in rape on Dennis Fords downland soils in Wilts. Optic spring barley has now all been sown.