A lot can happen in a month that’s for sure! Since my last article we have now been in lock down for almost four whole weeks.

Four weeks ago we had only ploughed 7ha of our spring barley ground but thankfully the weather dried up and we were able to get on with all our ploughing and sowing.

We finished drilling spring barley on April 11, about 10 days earlier than last year. Leaving the ground until conditions improved before ploughing seems to have made a big difference as fields were ploughed, left a day or two to dry up, then drilled and rolled, making for really good seed beds.

Since finishing sowing spring cereal crops, we have moved onto applying potash to our winter wheat and spring barley and getting Calcifert, and base fertiliser onto carrot ground in preparation for carrot drilling, which starts at the end of the month.

We also need to get on with applying liquid fertiliser to our winter wheat and spring barley and hope to start that imminently.

We have 25ha of green manure still to drill as part of the Agri-environment Climate Scheme but have been waiting for three weeks for the seed, which we are hoping we will have by Friday.

The delays in getting the seed have been caused by unavoidable Covid-19 related staffing issues in the seed plant. Hopefully, the good weather will continue and we will have all the green manure drilled by the end of the weekend.

This year we have gone for a mix of phacelia, radish, berseem clover and crimson clover, the seed costing £42/ha, to see if we can increase the amount of organic matter being produced, as opposed to the slightly cheaper phacelia, vetch and clover mix we have used in previous years, which cost £36/ha.

Establishment wise, we are going to disc the ground first, sow it with our Vaderstad drill, then roll it to get as good a seed bed as possible. In previous years we’ve direct drilled cover crops into stubble and haven’t rolled them, which resulted in slow germination and smaller crops.

We hope by changing our cultivations and seed mix we can maximise the amount of organic matter produced, giving as much benefit to the soil as possible.

Lambing was very quick this year, with more than 70% of ewes lambing in the first two week period. Last year, we had a huge amount of problems with older ewes coming down with twin lamb disease and prolapses – it felt like we were at the vet with an issue every couple of days!

Due to this we culled 20% of the flock last year that were either five-crop or older, or any which had any kind of issue at lambing. We then kept the equivalent number of our own home-bred Texel Mules.

This has made a dramatic difference to reducing lambing time issues and this year we have only had one vet visit so far and have under 10 ewes left to lamb.

Well done to everyone working in agriculture and the wider related industries keeping the countryside going during these strange times, as well as a huge thank you to those directly putting their lives on the line each day going to work directly with Covid-19 patients in the NHS or within health and social care – you really are all heroes!


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Thanks – and stay safe