Jim Macfarlane

21 November 1997

Jim Macfarlane

Jim Macfarlane is farm

manager at Edrington

Mains, Foulden,

Berwickshire. Two thirds of

the 275ha (680-acre) unit

is arable, with winter wheat

the main breadwinner,

complemented by malting

barley, winter rape and peas

THIS autumn slugs have been a bigger problem on our heavy soils than for many years. Huge slug populations and slow germination of crops in cloddy seed-beds have meant some wheat areas have had three applications of half rate metaldehyde and are still suffering leaf shredding.

I cant remember ever seeing pellets disappear so quickly from slug feeding. In some cases the pellets were all gone in two days, resulting in repeat application because many healthy slugs were still left.

Perhaps we should have used a full rate the first time. But I felt we could ill afford the expenditure this year and normally one well timed half rate does the job.

Good weather has allowed early completion of herbicide spraying. Pendimethalin at 1.3 litre/ha and IPU at 1-2.5 litre/ha have been used. After beginning to doubt the need for autumn residuals, given our relatively weed-free fields, I was amazed at the increased wild oat population this summer in two fields where we had been unable to finish spraying last autumn. An extra week spent rogueing soon renewed my enthusiasm for autumn residuals!

In contrast to the patchy cereal fields the oilseed rape looks very well on the whole, although one field of early drilled Synergy is much too advanced – it is over 30cm (1ft) tall already. I expect the first few severe frosts will leave it looking a bit sad.

Winter ploughing is progressing well in good going and will soon be completed. Tree planting is also under way, and with good grants available under the Scottish Woodland Premium Scheme were planting 3ha (8 acres) in four blocks. Weve lost many hundreds of elm trees in the last 10 years and the least we can do is to try and maintain tree numbers.

I was pleased to see buzzards on the farm recently for the first time; our two-year old refers to them as "buggers", but I hope they stay and help reduce our rabbit population!n

Time spent roguing wild oats last summer has renewed Jim Macfarlanes enthusiasm for residual herbicide applications this autumn.

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