EMMA FOOT | AUTUMN 2018
Well, arable farming isn’t just driving tractors. Theres a lot of paperwork involved too; we have an ACCS (assured combinable crops) inspection soon which is mainly assessed on record keeping. We delayed drilling this year as we have blackgrass on the farm, so trying to get the last of it to germinate before we drilled the wheat, normally everything is drilled and up by now. It’s been a challenging autumn as the blackgrass has not germinated due to the lack of rainfall.
The winter oats and barley are drilled and just coming up, these were planted on heavier ground, we drilled these earlier as once these fields get wet they are hard to dry out so thought we’d make the most of the drier weather by drilling it before it rained. Most of the winter crops are drilled, rolled and sprayed with pre emergence; pre emergence is put on before the crop emerges to create a barrier to prevent weed seeds growing and competing with the crop.
Since I last wrote we had our home saved seed dressed by a local contractor, by doing this it saves a lot of money, and when I say dressed the corn is treated with a seed dressing to help protect the seeds from pests giving it the best start.
Our turnips are growing very well indeed- (picture below) we recently bought 30 sheep to fatten on these turnips from a farmer near Corfe castle (stunning if you haven’t seen it) .
The cattle are still out and I’m still taking down a couple bales of hay every other day now. The grass is starting to grow back but slowly, the river is down a lot lower than normal years. Each time I go down I take some waste corn to feed the ducks, so I might shoot a few for the freezer.
Our workman Darren has been hedge trimming, hedge cutting is only allowed to be done on agricultural land from the 1st of September to the 1st of march. Although roadside hedges are allowed to be cut all year round for safety purposes. The aim is to cut all of the hedges before the crops are sown, to save having to drive on the crops, although OSR is normally drilled before we put the hedge trimmer on, so we usually have to drive on that but wait for the ground to become dry, so we have less crop damage.
Cover crops are growing well, although they are starting to pod up, we topped some of it and are rolling the rest now to prevent it from poding up and producing seeds which will be difficult to control in the following crop .
The catch crop we had was sprayed off on the 14th of October- this is part of our greening requirement from BPS (basic payment scheme). So greening is part of the BPS payment we have to meet a environmental criteria which is based on a points based system and depends on the farm size. The aim of growing a catch crop which is made up of various things our mix was phacelia, oil radish, barley and oats. Its aim is to hold nutrients in the plant to then be used in the following crop. It’s a bit like a cover crop but only in the ground for a shorter period. As there was a lot of the mix to incorporate I got the plough out and ploughed just the one field as the cultivator would just block up. We very rarely plough on the farm as cultivating can be done much quicker and is better for the soil, and as our soils are so shallow the plough just brings up chalk if your not careful so need to keep watch.
I’ve now finished hauling chicken muck as were now not able to store it outside, as it’s outside of the spreading season. Some people around us have built barns to store it in.
We had a very exciting arrival- a new sprayer. So our new sprayer has all the new technology (pretty sure I need a degree to work it) so it has auto boom height leveling, section control to prevent overlap, its all electronic, no levers anymore so takes more brain power to set up but once its all set up it does most of the work for you, the boom technology is just phenomenal to watch. We’ve now gone up to 30m tramlines, which will also help to prevent compaction and save more of the crop, we have steering axle too so it follows the tractor perfectly in the tramlines.
Pupdate; Bill has settled in well to the farming lifestyle and goes everywhere with me, he loves tractor rides, his favorite seat is on my lap so he can see exactly what’s going on.
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