5 April 2002


Mark Ireland

Mark Ireland farms with

his father and brother at

Grange Farm, North

Rauceby, Lincs. Sugar beet

and barley are the core

crops on the 1004ha (2481

acres) heathland unit

WHAT a difference a year makes. Mar 31, 2001, saw us start beet drilling; on the same date this year 195ha (482 acres) was in and Laurence, the drill man, was taking a well-earned Easter break.

But for unfavourable weather we would have been completed seven days earlier. However, in hindsight, we may find the break beneficial, as I am slightly uneasy about the number of cold nights since drilling. The sprayer followed up the drill with 150 litres/ha of 37% nitrogen plus 3 litres/ha of Takron (chloridizon).

Elsewhere our new Amazone spreader has been kept very busy. Winter barley has all had its two splits of N, totalling up to 130kg/ha (104 units/acre) and most spring barley is also finished, some fields having had sulphur added. We are now a deficient area so it will be interesting to see if yields rise as trials suggest.

Contrary to widespread press advice to delay first nitrogen on wheat we have applied up to 50 kg/ha N (40 units/acre). My view is that we had a sensible number of tillers on the early-drilled, low seed-rate fields on heavier land and on the lighter heath land any delay can soon lose you more tillers than you would wish.

One of the joys of being in an NVZ is a visit every four years from the Environment Agency to check our records. This time they took the opportunity to check our pesticide store, chemical transfer area, groundwater authorisation and diesel tanks too. The two lady inspectors were very helpful and pointed out something I was blissfully unaware off. Sprayer washings of All Clear Extra are deemed to be working strength pesticide and our authorisation to dispose of such washings on a designated area had insufficient volume for the frequency we are cleaning out.

Finally, I see in the IACS 2002 supplement that the RPA plans to "digitise all land parcels" and we will receive maps to verify. Why do I sense more work on the horizon? &#42

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