John Jeffrey runs two
tenanted farms in
partnership with his father
from Kersknowe, near Kelso
in the Scottish Borders.
Two-thirds of the 730ha
(1800 acres) is arable,
growing seed potatoes, oilseed rape, wheat and
winter and spring barley
RUDYARD Kipling said: "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same… Youll be a man, my son".
Therefore, I would like to congratulate England on winning the Six Nations Championship on Sunday.
This week, Scottish minister for rural affairs, Ross Finnie, is visiting our potato co-operative, Scott Country Potatoes. After last weeks disappointing announcement from Downing Street to arable farmers, it is probably asking too much to hope for any good news from him. But I can assure you we will be putting forward an extremely strong case.
During the serene weather in March, the sprayer, fertiliser spreader and the drill were kept in almost constant use. We finished drilling our spring barley, all Chariot intended for malting, on Mar 24. That is the earliest for a decade, sown at 180kg/ha (1.5cwt/acre) into excellent seed-beds. It will receive 500kg/ha of 20:14:14 once the tramlines can be read.
After the winter crops had received their initial "wake-up call" of urea, it was time to go back through them with nitrogen and sulphur. At the rate the oilseed rape is growing we will be aiming to apply its final dose of nitrogen before we start planting potatoes.
The oilseed rape has also been sprayed for light leaf spot with 0.4 litres/ha of Folicur (tebuconazole) plus 1kg/ha of manganese DF as it was looking a bit off colour. Winter barley received 5kg/ha of manganese sulphate to tickle it up, as it looked yellow in patches.
Our more forward wheats, which have wintered exceedingly well, received 1.5 litres/ha of chlormequat for growth control, 0.35 litres/ha of Bravo (chlorothalonil) to keep septoria in check and the seemingly mandatory 1kg/ha of manganese for the obvious deficiency. On the backward wheat a herbicide mix of 20g/ha Ally (metsulfuron-methyl) and 1 litre/ha Duplosan (mecoprop-P) will be added to the cocktail as they did not receive a herbicide in the backend.
All this will be done singing "…and sent them homeward to think again!" *
Andrew Hebditch farms
285ha (700 acres) of
owned, tenanted and
share-farmed land at Coat,
Martock, Somerset. Silt
and clay soils support
winter wheat, barley and
oilseed rape, plus spring
peas, linseed and beans
ONLY 26mm (1in) of rain in March saw rapid progress with spring drilling.
A 170hp demo John Deere supplied by our local dealer, C Smart, was used to drill spring beans 75mm (3in) deep straight in to ploughed and pressed ground. The extra horsepower available meant the Vaderstads cultivation units could be used to their full effect on the 31ha (77 acres) of steep ground. After rolling, 1.8 litres/ha of Gesatop (simazine) completed the job.
Solara combining peas went in next at 230 kg/ha (1.9cwt/acre) aiming to establish 70 plants/sq m. A single pass with the Simba Toptilth produced an extremely good seed-bed and rolling again followed the drill. We have sown 8ha (20 acres) of Nitouche peas to see if they can better both the yield and standing ability of Solara. Opoguard (terbuthylazene + terbutryn) was applied at 2.8 litres/ha to control broadleaved weeds. Although somewhat expensive it has given reasonable control in the past.
Ready for direct drilling linseed, Roundup Biactive (glyphosate) has been sprayed on 22ha (55 acres) of stubble at 1.5 litres/ha to take out the blackgrass seedlings. It was also sprayed in November.
At the end of last week wheats were close to GS 31 so 1 litre/ha of Cycocel (chlormequat + choline chloride) and 80ml/ha of Topik (clodinafop) plus oil will go on any day now. On one large field without a wild oat problem using Ally (metsulfuron-methyl) plus Moddus (trinexapac-ethyl) should simplify the tank mix at GS32 when the fungicides go on, as broadleaved weeds are already taken care of.
Oilseed rape is growing away and will soon be in flower after mid-March applications of fertiliser and a mix of Cycocel and Folicur (tebuconazole) to shorten the crop and control increasing disease.
Back in the yard, a new grain dryer has been delivered, replacing the old one that caught fire in the middle of last harvest, writing the machine off. Luckily damage to the buildings from that incident was limited. *
Justin Blackwood farms
770ha (1900 acres) from
Grange Farm, Great Brington,
Northants, on a range of
Cropping hinges around
winter wheat, plus winter
barley, rape, peas, oats and
DRY weather in March at last allowed us to get some work done.
We drilled 117ha (290 acres) of spring beans with the Simba straight into the ploughed land without using the leading tines and the results were impressive. Power requirement was high and forward speed much slower than autumn cereal drilling, but with 320hp on the front of the 6m Simba, we still managed up to 28ha (70 acres) in a 12-hour day.
For the 32ha (80 acres) of Flare peas we followed the Simba with the Cultipress and put the leading tines on the front of the drill. Again, it has produced a very satisfactory result.
All the wheat had its first top dressing by Mar 28. Our most forward crops were left till last, as they were carrying sufficient to slightly high tiller numbers. Most is at GS30, stem erect, and we have applied a T0 or pre-T1 spray. That allows us to do a split plant growth regulator programme, correct any known trace element deficiency and mop up a few remaining stunted cleavers with Eagle (amidosulfuron).
The past two Aprils have been wet, windy and unsuitable for spraying until the end of the month. With that in mind we have added a sniff of fungicide to the T0 spray which will not add any extra cost, as it will be deducted from the intended T1 rate. If we are delayed again in April, at least we have some protection.
Strobilurins will again be used on all our wheats this year. In our yield trial, compliments of New Farm Crops, across three varieties of wheat strobilurins gave 0.9 t/ha (0.4t/acre) more yield than a straight triazole programme of the same cost. And that was in a year when high sunlight and temperature during July prevented crops from taking full advantage of the prolonged grain fill that strobilurins can give. So, hopefully, there is still more benefit to be had even in an average year. *
Lloyd Jones farms 175ha
(430 acres) at Hall Farm,
Cereals and potatoes are
rotated with grass and he is
an NFU council member.
Buildings house potato and
cereal seed dressing lines
THE new millennium has heralded even more changes to our personal and farming life than we expected.
Our new farmhouse is the last piece in the jigsaw which has seen the complete rebuilding of the farmstead on a new site. The project has taken 20 years to complete and will, during the coming months, see Jill and myself leaving a home that my parents moved to 66 years ago. Also, we recently took the chance to buy an adjoining farm of 28ha (70 acres) where son Stuart will move to in a couple of weeks.
Better weather has allowed us to drill Optic spring barley on the newly acquired arable ground, but cold nights last week kept the sprayer in the shed. I hope that by the end of this week we can catch up on crops that are racing ahead.
The decision not to apply autumn herbicide to our oats appears to have been justified. Bryce tells me Eagle (amidosulfuron) now will cost £12.50/ha, which he believes is quite reasonable. Adding some Corbel (fenpropimorph)will keep mildew at bay until GS 31-32, when the pgr and main fungicide will be applied.
One field of early sown wheat has more ryegrass than we would like, so this will be sprayed with Grasp (tralkoxydim) plus mineral oil. The remaining early sown crops will have a growth regulator and Landmark (epoxiconazole + kresoxim-methyl) mix plus Eagle to control cleavers. Bryce is considering Twist (trifloxystrobin) as a T1 fungicide because of its claimed excellent activity on Septoria tritici, which is often a problem here due to our higher than average rainfall.
After last years first attempt at growing seed potatoes we will halve the nitrogen applied and use much more phosphate to try to initiate more tubers. Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks we will plant our 12ha (30 acres).
Lastly, as this is my final article in farmers weekly, I would like to thank the readers who have sent me information and sometimes comments following my notes from Hall Farm. *