Posted on January 19 2018
Hi Everyone! Happy belated New Year! I hope you all had a great festive period and are enjoying 2018.
Following on from my previous blog at the start of December I visited the John Deere factory, courtesy of Smarts our local John Deere dealer, we visited the cab factory in Bruchsal and parts distribution centre, it was spread over 40HA, a very efficient factory, we had an excellent tour, and the distribution centre could get parts delivered to our dealer in 12 hours, they claimed to have 98% of parts in their parts centre. Some of the shelving was 24 metres high with robotic forklifts collecting the parts. Our hotel was in Mannheim so we were also able to look around the Christmas market and visited a steak house for our evening meal, the following day we went to the tractor factory in Mannheim where they assemble the tractors and the cabs from the factory in Bruchsal are united with their tractor, which only takes minutes to fit the cab. They were making 150 tractors a day when we were there, and that wasn’t at full production they have other tractor factories around the world so there’s a lot of green tractors out there.
Luckily we had a spell of dry and still weather so we now have put the sides and roof on the grain store, we are waiting for some warmer weather now to put the concrete floor in so should hopefully be completed by 2018 harvest.
I’m back to hauling in chicken muck from a local poultry farm, I will be collecting about 80 tonnes a week, our farm in is a NVZ (Nitrate vulnerable zone), which means we are unable to store muck outside or spread it in the winter months due to the risk of nitrogen leaching. We spread this before drilling to give our spring barley the best start. Chicken muck contains a high amount of nitrogen and it’s free so if you’re close to a poultry farm its very cost effective! Artificial fertiliser is about £200 a tonne so to cut down on these costs makes a huge impact.
We are also in a catchment sensitive farming area; this has been set up to help reduce nitrates getting into Poole Harbor catchment area. The water board are now paying us to plant a cover crop, for example after harvesting wheat in mid august if we were to follow the wheat with spring barley, the ground would be left bare from mid august to the end of February. The idea is that the cover crop uses any remaining nitrogen to grow the crop, which stops it from leaching into water sources and ground water sources. An added advantage of a cover crop is that improves structure and drainage through the crops root, it also adds organic matter to the soil. Organic matter plays an important role in soil health providing a habitat for organisms living in the soil, and improves water holding capacity and drainage, which in turn helps with waterlogging and makes it less drought prone. Also makes it easier to break down the soil for an optimum seedbed. All of these factors help make crop failure less likely. There are various different cover crops, but we chose oil radish as this has a deep taproot and we’ve tried others and feel this is the most beneficial to our soil. By adding chicken manure this also helps to add to organic matter in the soil.
We’ve also been loading conventional bales (small bales) as we bale about 6,000 a year, and sell them throughout the winter months for extra income and keeps us warm staking them as its manual. Most people have moved on from conventional balers so it’s a premium market. We sell most of the bales to farmers, some go to a local farm shop and some are even used at weddings for seating.
As this is a quiet time of year my boyfriend and I went over to Iceland for a few days before we both start to get busy again. I can assure you we felt the cold when we got there, and felt the warmth when we got back! Sometimes it’s nice to have some time away from the farm to unwind.
We have a few store lambs that we injected with Heptavac, this immunizes against common diseases in lambs that can be fatal. Luckily as were down near the south coast we’ve avoided the snow that I’m thankful of and dare say the sheep are too!
Our store cattle that we have been rearing up for the last 14 months when they came to the farm at 6 months are due to be sold at market at the beginning of February, before we can do this they need to be TB tested which is stretched over 2 visits over 4 days. Firstly the vet will come out and cut off a bit of hair in two places on the neck, the skin thickness is measured and recorded. Then they are injected both slightly different. When the vet returns on the fourth day they two reactions are compared, a bad reaction causes a large lump to form, the size of the lump is then measured, if it exceeds a certain measurement criteria it is classed as a reactor which is a very upsetting moment as this means the animal has to be culled and can not enter the food chain. Meaning the work and care that has gone into the animal has gone to waste. We put a fence around the cattle shed every evening to stop badgers getting in and eating the cattle feed, which cuts down the risk of TB. We have been shut down with TB in previous years and feel this is a good control measure whilst they’re being housed over winter.
Next month I’m attending a Breakfast meeting that will be held at Salisbury racecourse, where we discuss and find more information on the grain markets, selling grain is always a bit of a gamble as worldwide harvests have an effect on our grain prices, such as if Australia has a drought our grain will be in demand so higher prices are paid. Grain prices are very volatile at the moment.
Thank you for taking the time to have a read. If you have time please feel free to write me a comment below.
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