Stephen Bumstead

19 October 2001

Stephen Bumstead

Stephen Bumstead farms

148ha (365 acre) from Ouse

Bank Farm, Great Barford,

Beds. He is a first

generation farmer and

council tenant, growing

combinable crops on three

blocks of land. He supports

LEAF and is the FWAG

county treasurer

LATE September gave us absolutely dreadful local weather and we are still trying to tidy up our harvest.

Tackling flat and weedy late-sown spring barley is very frustrating with weather fronts moving through so quickly and frequently.

Trying to find an accurate forecast is a mammoth task in itself. The celebrity television forecasters get it totally wrong more often than not and even internet websites are not consistent. It must be one of those "freak weather patterns" we are experiencing.

Min-till seems to be order of the day in many arable areas but not around here. In this part of Beds ploughing still rules supreme, a slow job that I hate. There are so many adjustments, so many wearing parts and I get so bored – not to mention trying to keep a straight furrow. Like others round here I prefer to follow the earths curvature.

In August I had a Howard Delta stubble cultivator on demonstration which I have now bought. Two passes with its winged tines, levelling discs and cage roller produce a respectable seed-bed for our triple "K" tined combination drill on our soils. The only snag is I now need pre-drilling glyphosate – the weed and volunteer chit is just magnificent. So far wheat establishment by this method, at 200-250 seeds/ sq m, seems good but only time will tell, especially as we have never had to use slug pellets in the past.

Wheats this year are Malacca and Option. Nothing was drilled ultra early because of our latish harvest but I still hope to complete drilling before mid-November – weather permitting of course.

A farmers son who writes in a regional farming magazine has been chastising those who bemoan the strength of sterling, weather and the governments bad attitude towards the farming industry. He is about to dispense pearls of wisdom regarding how to develop our businesses. This I cannot wait to see. As every farm worker knows, the best farmer in the world is the farmers son. &#42

"I hate ploughing," says Stephen Bumstead in Beds. A new cultivator seems to be a solution but the proof will come next harvest, he says.

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