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Guest Blog: Emma Foot, Summer is almost here!

Emma's Dorset farming blog spring spraying

Well talk about a challenging spring, in March we had 181mm of rainfall and also two 10cm falls of snow. I see last year we had 69mm of rainfall (and that felt like a wet spring), all of our spring barley is now drilled and rolled in, about a month late, but that’s better not at all. Hopefully this spring was a one off!  With all this wet weather its enabled me to catch up with the boring office work, such as completing VAT returns, paying bills and have now finished our application for BPS(Basic payment scheme).

I think it’s fair to say it’s finally spring, all of the crops have shot up in the past couple of weeks, and the fields are filled with different shades of green, yellow, and hedgerows and trees bursting into leaf.  This is my favorite time of year, the evenings are getting lighter, and watching the crops grow and develop fills me with joy.

My dad spraying the winter wheat with T0

emma foots dad

A T0 spray helps assure some timing flexibility at T1 (second spray application) if poor weather causes any delay of application, it helps to reduce the risk of chasing disease throughout the growing season. The T0 timing (before growth stage 30 – ear at 1cm) is all about Septoria. Septoria is always going to be a target at this stage.  The advantage of the T0 is the flexibility in its timing – it is not closely linked to leaf emergence.

Different areas of the country have different levels of pressure from diseases due to different weather and rainfall variations across different regions.  Septoria is more common in the south west as we have higher rainfall and Septoria is spread by rainfall splashes whereas in the east of the country there is less rainfall so less Septoria. Septoria is a disease which causes loss of the green area of the leaf, which is, contains chlorophyll that turns light into energy for photosynthesis. It’s important to control such as Septoria in crops as a diseased leaf has a reduced ability to capture energy from sunlight, which in turn can result in yield loss.

Everything is growing now, and so are the weeds, so I’ve enclosed comparison pictures to show treated/ untreated crop. As you can see from the pictures weeds can really smother a crop and this can decrease yield dramatically.

Untreated                                                                       Treated

Below is an image of our spring barley coming up, but as you can see it is slug damaged. Usually in spring crops slugs aren’t too much of a problem but by not going in at the correct time and having a very wet spell the slugs have been thriving, so now attacking the spring barley at its vulnerable stage, last week I had to apply a few slug pellets.

Our workman has been putting hardcore in the grain store ready for the concrete to be laid within the next couple of weeks, so hopefully it will be all ready and set for harvest, as that will be upon us before we know it.

We have a 10 acre field next to the River Stour, that is about 15 minutes’ drive from the farm where we turned out the cattle last week, it’s been wet for so long now, we’ve put in a few more posts down there as the whole field is flooded throughout the winter, so lost a few posts with the flooding.

We sold 20 of our sheep back before Easter, where a lot of markets were closed due to the snow that week.  Selling lambs before Easter they helped to get a good price for the lambs, generally a better price is paid in the lead up to Easter. We achieved an average of £90 each; think we should go into sheep farming! 

Last autumn we had a muck spreader on demonstration to spread our chicken muck and to spread the chalk dug out for the new grain store-building site, we spread the chalk onto our heavy clay cap.  We felt this did a wonderful job, so purchased it last month.

I’m sure a lot of you have heard of blackgrass, I had a walk around with the agronomist and found a few plants already. There are sprays, which are available and suppresses the weed for a bit longer but are very expensive, in a few places around the country blackgrass has become resistant to some chemicals. So, I’ll probably spend the next few weeks rouging (pulling the weed by hand) but I do enjoy it as I’m outside in the fresh air and cutting costs.  

I have been applying more fertiliser, I apply it little and often, as the crop can take up the fertiliser little by little. A few weeks ago, before the oilseed rape was in full flower I put the last of the nitrogen on before the crop got too tall and this enables the fertiliser to be utilised filling the pods and adding to the yield. Too much fertiliser too early can result in a very dense leafy crop which can end up competing with itself for sunlight and although would look a very good crop the yield would disappoint.

Thank you for reading,

Emma x


Thanks for reading Emma's second blog. She will be writing another blog for us again soon.

In the meantime why not check out our Farming collection!

Or visit Emma's Instagram page here.

Or take a look here to find out more about young farmers clubs.

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