Spring has arrived and the sun is shining, however snow and sleet have been forecast for the Easter weekend!
Work on the farm has really kicked into action. We have had another unusually dry and warm winter and so the crops have been growing non stop. This has meant that the winter wheat sown in early September is very lush and already looks as you would expect at the end of April! This is not necessarily a problem. It just means that myself, Toby, our Crop Doctor, and Nick, the Spray Operator, need to be on the ball with monitoring crop disease and pests because in sunshine they really start to multiply while the plants rattle through the growth stages into summer.
To keep up with this rapid growth we have been applying Nitrogen fertiliser to the crops, which acts as a much needed plant food, making them strong so they don’t come under stress. The Oil Seed Rape is really growing fast. You can drive past a field one day and then the next day you drive past again and immediately see the difference in height. This is due to the long roots picking up all the nitrogen there, which has been broadcast by us onto the soil, dissolved by rain and dews and picked up by the root system of the plants deep in the soil.
The spring crops of our Naked Oats, Grass Seed, Linseed and Spring Beans are now in the soil. They all went into very good seed beds and have benefited from the rain over that weekend but the Linseed is still waiting for some more life giving water (As I type the clouds are becoming dark, so fingers crossed the rain will be with us soon).
The Linseed was drilled with two demonstration tractors, as we are looking to change our Caterpillar tracked machine. It was drilled using the most up to date satellite navigation for farm vehicles. This means that the tractor follows the edge of its own worked area over the field and the accuracy is between 2-5cm. The driver does not have to steer, just has to remember to turn round at the end when the alarm sounds! This takes the responsibility off the driver to keep straight, which frees him up to concentrate on the implement that the tractor is pulling, so the applications are done much more sympathetically to the conditions of the field. It means that our fuel and seed bill will be reduced, as we will not be overlapping at all. It will be a costly investment but this reduction in our expenses will mean that the pay back will be relatively quick, as fuel prices are set to increase!
Also on the farm, we are having our annual spring clean and tidy up. We have got a couple of big events on the horizon, so a tidy yard is called for. Work has also started on the installation of our new solar energy system. This we hope to be up and running in a couple of weeks, so that the majority of our daily electrical energy will be made up of home produced power.
Spring is a busy time of year but it is a great time as the countryside greens and the wildflowers emerge. Rain is the key to unlocking these beautiful sights and maintaining our crops that currently, ‘touch wood’, look in good shape. We will see what the climate has to give us over the next few months. BWB