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Damp fields and Direct Deere

Yet again I am so grateful to be living and farming in the driest part of the country! At times over the last month it hasn’t necessarily felt that dry but in comparison to everywhere else we are quite Sahara like! After much anxious watching of weather forecasts and curses at catching an unwanted late afternoon deluge we finally started drilling wheat on Tuesday 29th October. The result was not the prettiest drilling we have ever done but the seed is buried, and relatively little damage was done to the soil structure. There were soggy bits and the old tram lines will show next year but we have puddled wheat in much worse conditions. We continued on Wednesday and Thursday and, with rain present on Friday, Charles managed to finish most of it by 10pm that evening.

After a semi-dry weekend, the remaining two fields went in on Monday 2nd November. We had a demonstration of a John Deere Direct Drill on a field we had had 3 years of grass and clover for pollinators which was interesting and appears to have done a good job. If we are going to follow the trend of using clover and catch crops to keep the soil in good condition and reduce the nutrient loss int the ditches, we may find our current drill will not cope with crop residue on the surface very well. The Claydon drill we use at the moment is cheap to run , fast to operate and being mounted rather than trailed does have less impact on the soil, but it is a bit of a blunt instrument and we may find that we can no longer operate with only one type of seeder.

Having more or less written off our rape crop in the last notes, we have decided, after much deliberation, to leave it alone and wait until the new year to decide whether to abandon it or not. The week after I wrote the last notes proved to be ideal growing conditions and we were surprised at how much growth the rape put on. The rows are clearly visible now and provided we can keep the pigeons off, three fields look hopeful. Some of the other two are ok but there are a lot of troublesome weeds present which may prove impossible to control in a thin crop of rape. A month’s snow cover would do the trick!

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