WTFIH @ Thriplow Farms, April 2017

Touch wood, it looks as if we are having a normal sort of spring for the first time since 2014, not another really cold one like the last couple of years have been. This is very welcome, as it gets the plants going, and we can really start to see now the fertiliser starting to get picked up in the oilseed rape. I won’t keep harping on about it too much, but the pigeons are still a huge problem for us, even though we have got plenty of new shooters in to try and keep them at bay. At the end of February we put the first bit of fertiliser on some our of wheat fields, where the previous crop had been another cereal, like wheat or barley. A couple of weeks later the rest of the farm had its first application as well, so that job is finished until later on in March, when the second half goes on. By and large the farm looks pretty good, although still the fields which we would consider easier seem to look worse than the more difficult ones, and everything is a little behind where it would have been normally, due to the funny autumn.

March’s major job is the start of spring drilling, which will kick off with a couple of fields of sugar beet. We are borrowing a nifty little piece of equipment from Cousins, a local company based near Wisbech, which is called a strip-till machine. This allows us to prepare the soil for sugar beet (a sensitive crop which needs very loose ground) only where the plant will grow – in a strip. On the back of this machine is the seed drill, so in one pass we cultivate and sow the seed. Fingers crossed it works well. After the beet we will get on with the rest of our crops, starting with peas, then oats and barley a bit later. We usually have around a third of the farm planted in the spring, although these crops are risky for us if there is a drought. However, they are great in the rotation to keep weeds and other pests under control, so on balance it’s a chance worth taking.

The Cousins Strip-Till machine

The Cousins Strip-Till machine

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