Instant seed bed achieved
CHOPPED straw has long been incorporated and all the land is ploughed. "On this brickearth a plough and flexicoil gives you an instant seed-bed."
Mr Harbour runs the farm with the help of one other full-time employee and a student at harvest. A "tweaked" Case 5140 and a 120hp John Deere 6800 on wide anti-compaction tyres provide the main motive power. Combine is a three-year old Claas 204 Mega, and a new Gem 2200-litre trailed sprayer fits the 20m tramline system, which is common in the area.
Consultation with agent Strutt and Parker led to a 4m Sulky SPI combination drill recently replacing a seven-year-old Bettinson model. "It has a very precise metering system, which allows us to use quite low seed rates. We felt we needed a bit more precision."
Fortunately the land is mostly blackgrass-free. Main weeds are wild oats, meadow grass, cleavers and mayweed. Being BASIS-registered Mr Harbour aims to buy pesticides according to their active ingredient, choosing the cheapest from a wide range of local suppliers. AICC member Terry Kemp visits the farm about once a fortnight to provide a broader view.
Stomp (pendimethalin) herbicide was used quite widely this autumn, mainly because it was available on good terms as part of Cyanamids new Ecosystem involving returnable containers.
Rothamsted reports of sulphur shortages and diagnosed deficiency in oilseed rape a few years ago mean the crop now always gets Tiger 90 granules in the winter as well as Sulphurgold fertiliser.