Tim Piper

28 January 2000

Tim Piper

Tim Piper

Tim Piper farms at

Churchlands on the edge

of Romney Marsh, Kent.

Wheat, barley, oilseed rape,

herbage seed and vining

peas occupy 890ha

(2200 acres) of the

1105ha (2730 acre) unit

JANUARY is disappearing rapidly and spring is just around the corner.

In the last couple of weeks our crops have changed from looking a little hungry to active growth. It is as if they have had a bag of nitrogen. We have applied large amounts of farm yard manure in recent years and I hope we are starting to see a tangible benefit, other than maintaining phosphate and potash levels that is. Could this extra greenness be translated into a yield increase or will it prove to be cosmetic? Last year we applied 18,000t of FYM across the farm.

Hopefully, soil conditions will soon improve so we can spray our newly sown herbage seeds. A mixture of Nortron (ethofumesate), ioxymil and bromoxynil should take out blackgrass, meadowgrass and broadleaved weeds.

Final out-turn on the first batch of grass seed from last harvest has arrived and I am particularly pleased to have only lost 1.5t in cleaning from 33t delivered. That might make up for the derisory price that Advanta seem to think they are going to pay us. Now they have pulled out of grass seed production they have no interest in looking after their growers. Maybe in the future as the pound weakens – one can but hope – inferior quality, cheap imports from Europe will dry up. UK livestock will be more profitable, demanding more quality English grass seed. Advanta might well regret their decision.

Last years seed peas are being collected and this years contracts have been set on the same terms as last year.

I find it hard to believe how much the rainfall varies from one side of the county to the other. Here, the 25-year average is 660mm (26in) but in east Kent I am led to believe it is just 460mm (18in). Having said that, last year we received 910mm (36in) and the last six years have all been well above average. Are the global warming warnings right or are we due a run of dry years? &#42

Six years of above average rainfall. Is it global warming, asks Kent grower Tim Piper.

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