FARMERFOCUS

23 April 1999




FARMERFOCUS

Leonard Morris

Leonard Morris is tenant at

206ha (510-acre) White

House Farm, South Kyme

Fen, Lincoln. His heavy land

grows winter wheat and

oilseed rape and spring peas

and linseed. Lighter ground

is cropped with potatoes,

spring rape and linseed

ONLY 6.5mm of rain in the second half of March meant at last we could do some field work.

First job was 107kg/ha (86 units/acre) of nitrogen as ammonium nitrate on oilseed rape. Wheat was next, getting 64kg/ha (51 units/acre), before we went across to Woodhall to plough land going into linseed.

With the four-furrow Opico square plough on light fields and the four-furrow Dowdeswell on heavier ground we soon turned it over. Dual wheels went on both tractors to work the land down and drill farm-saved Antares linseed at 62kg/ha (25kg/acre).

We were back home by Apr 1. Oilseed rape was into stem extension and had its final 121kg/ha (97 units/acre) of nitrogen. Rialto winter wheat had 5C Cycocel (chlormequat + choline chloride) at 1.5 litres/ha as it was already at GS32, with 2.5kg/ha of manganese and 5.0kg/ha of Microthiol (sulphur) in the mix. The sulphur is used here as it seems to work well as a cheap fungicide.

The remaining ploughed land from the autumn was sprayed with 2.0 litres/ha of Roundup (glyphosate) to clean it up. Then, with dual wheels back on the tractors and tyre pressures down to 10 psi, we power-harrowed and drilled Samoa spring wheat.

Avola seed peas are being grown for the Vining group, and we have some Espace combining peas. Antares linseed was the last to drill, finishing at 1.30am as rain was forecast for the following morning. Needless to say the rain did not arrive, and temperatures up to 22C (72F) and strong westerly winds left the land pretty dry after drilling, so recent rain comes as a welcome change.

However, linseed on light land is showing in the rows and pigeons are attacking the crop. It could do with a warm spell rather than the two nights of -3C (27F) and snow showers we are getting.

Between the showers wheat had the main 114kg/ha nitrogen and it too needs warmer weather so the rest of the growth regulator can be applied.

Spring crops are all in, at last, on Leonard Morriss Lincs fen farm. But the land could do with warming up a bit, he says.

James Moldon

James Moldon manages the

220ha (550 acres) heavy

land Stanaway Farm, Otley,

Suffolk, for the Felix

Thornley Cobbold

Agricultural Trust.

Crops include winter wheat,

barley, OSR, beans, linseed

and sugar beet

LAST months Morley sprayer technology day was an encouraging success for a first time effort. About 100 people turned up on the day, an indication of the interest farmers have in keeping up to date with changes in spray regulations and improved technology. Many thanks to the speakers and to Ben Freer for helping to organise the event.

The brief spell of fine weather enabled us to finish second applications of nitrogen, again as urea, and spraying is up to date for the moment. Spring herbicides such as Ally (metsulfuron-methyl) went on with the remaining 0.5 litres/ ha dose of chlormequat.

Fungicides have also been applied, mainly Opus (epoxiconazole) at 0.25 litres/ha to control septoria and Unix (cyprodinil) at 0.5kg/ha for mildew and eyespot where appropriate. Some spot blackgrass treatments of Topik (clodinafop-propargyl) at 0.1 litres/ha were needed for blackgrass in winter wheats. One field seems to have a high level of sterile brome too, despite the autumn applications of Avadex (tri-allate) and ipu.

Oilseed rape is all in flower apart from a few small patches. The disc and press established crop has caused the most concern this year because of high plant counts, possibly due to volunteer rape in the drilled crop. That has delayed flowering and stunted growth. Pigeons are still a problem, especially on winter linseed and a great deal of lead is being applied to deter them!

Sugar beet was drilled on Mar 31, followed by a roll across the drills and 10kg/ha of mini slug pellets (metaldehyde) as the field has a history of slug problems. We have had to accept some degree of clods and unevenness but similar conditions in the past two seasons have given adjusted yields of 75t/ha (30t/acre), so I am reasonably optimistic.

The remaining growth regulators will be applied soon and cleavers sorted out. Hopefully, for some of the final nitrogen application on wheats, we will be able to use Hydros new crop sensor which tweaks rates automatically according to crop density. That should provide some interesting results.

First round of fungicides have been applied at Stanaway farms, including Unix (cyprodinil) to tackle mildew and eyespot where needed, says manager James Moldon.

Bill Harbour

Bill Harbour is manager for

GosmereFarm Partners at

448ha (1107-acre) Gosmere

Farm, Sheldwich, Faversham,

Kent. Crops include wheat,

barley, oilseed rape, peas

and beans plus

cherries under the

Countryside Stewardship

scheme

APRIL showers do a lot of damage when they fall as hail. Last week many crops with new tender leaves, or trees with blossom here in Kent, were hit. Our cherries have put on a good show, I only hope we get some fruit.

Oilseed rape has had all 200kg/ha (169 units/acre) of nitrogen. That is not as much as we have applied in the past, but enough for this season. Wheat has had 125kg/ha (100 units/acre) so far. Winter beans have been harrowed and sprayed with 0.25 litres/ha of cypermethrin to tackle leaf-notching weevils and prevent larvae attacking root nodules later on.

No herbicides went on here last autumn so we have used various spring combinations. One of the most useful seems to be Ally Express (carfentrazone-ethyl + metsulfuron-methyl) mixed with some ipu. In two days the cleavers curled up using just 50g/ha. Wheat has had some chlormequat, and a second dose plus first fungicide should be on by the time you read this.

Bullet (cyanazine + pendimethalin) went on peas at 5 litres/ha, which should save us going back to take out the weed oilseed rape. Time will tell. An unfortunate drill block in the peas where everyone can see it cannot be patched up as it is a seed crop.

Our last Eco-keg has been used and I for one will not be using them again until the system has improved. The eight kegs of Bullet had the so called industry standard "Micromatic" valves fitted, but they did not have caps, the valves were yellow with pendimethalin, there were yellow streaks on the seams of the keg and the labels were not glued on well and falling off. Despite being looked at, the machine is still very slow, leaks and seems to work best on its side.

Novartis have given me the latest LinkPack valve which can handle dry flowable products too. That type of product must be the way forward.

No more Ecomatic kegs will be used at Gosmere Farm until the whole system has been improved, says manager Bill Harbour.

Mike Cumming

Mike Cumming is manager at

Lour Farms, Ladenford,

Forfar, Angus, where spring

malting barley and seed

potatoes occupy about half

the 749ha (1850 acres).

Other crops include winter

wheat, barley and oats,

oilseed rape, swedes and

grass

SPRING barley drilling was almost complete by Apr 4. The Amazone RPD power harrow/drill combination performed well laying to rest any fears regarding timeliness and germination has been superb. I have no regrets about adopting this method of establishment, but drilling was interrupted by electronic problems.

That is not unique to Amazone and appears endemic in modern agricultural equipment. It seems technology is advancing faster than engineers at farm level can cope with. Small electronic components costing just a few £ bring big, expensive machines to a standstill, jeopardising operation timeliness. Manufacturers must address this, reconciling the benefits electronics can achieve with the capabilities of normal service staff.

Winter wheat has had 125kg/ha (100 units/acre) out of a total 225kg/ha (180 units/acre) of nitrogen. All other winter crops have had final nitrogens and we are top dressing early sown spring barley at up to 112kg/ha (90 units/acre), my limit for the malting market. Barley seed costs ranged from £25/ha (£10/acre) for home-saved Chariot to £67/ha (£27/acre) for Optic.

The sprayer is out of hibernation, having applied 45g/ha of Harmony M (metsulfuron-methyl + thifensulfuron-methyl) herbicide to on wheat after rape. That went on with 0.4 litres/ha of Bumper P (prochloraz + propiconazole) plus 1 litre/ha of Meteor (chlormequat + choline chloride + imazaquin). Wheat after potatoes will receive a similar treatment shortly.

After six months on the "to-do" list, I have drawn up a waste disposal policy for the estate. The whole exercise was tedious and frustrating, as local authority or Scottish Environmental Protection Agency guidance is limited to what cannot be done. For example, no reference list of designated disposal sites in our area is supplied. While we know tyres and batteries cannot be delivered to our landfill site, what are the alternatives?

At Lour few changes were needed to meet requirements, but identifying them was unnecessarily complex. A general farm waste disposal policy compiled by SEPA with a list of local disposal sites would have been a big help. SEPA please take note.

Mike Cumming has been in the office drawing up a waste management policy for Lour Farms, Angus. Out on the farm spring barley is up and running with nitrogen on.


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