Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Fresh Country Air

Last weekend the contractors arrived to spread about 400t of mushroom compost. We would usually hire the spreaders ourselves and do the operation a little later in the summer but the adjacent fields were destined for Oilseed Rape and so a quick turn around was required. I checked all of the NVZ restrictions and the water framework directory and found that there was no problem in spreading this low nutrient, high organic matter and high sinus clearing product at this time of year. As the spreaders started their soil improving task the waft of sweet fresh country air, held up on stiff south westerly carried nicely into the local villages much to the confusion of the natives. Were we spraying some horrible pesticide? Were the drains blocked and was sewage erupting volcanically from the nearest pipe? No I'm afraid it was nothing that exciting, it was just us enhancing the light soils with some well deserved organic matter. Next year I will be investigating some other forms of organic matter to help improve the land and who knows that type might even smell of Chanel No 5!!

Nowhere to hide

This shot was taken earlier this week of the combine cutting wheat, although I can't work out which field it was it. Andrew John, my predecessor at Overbury stills flies and is a great asset as the 'eye in the sky' taking photos and checking up on how things are looking, not just here at home but it's a great way to assess the region and how it looks especially in May and June. Invariably things that look great from the truck can be less than impressive from the sky. Maybe I should consider taking up flying microlights so that I can take some pictures of my own and suss out the competition for myself.....

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Harvest Update

We've had a fairly good spell of weather for the past 10 days and been able to make good progress, we even managed to harvest some of the spring barley without having dry it. The Solstice wheat is all but in the barn, 14ha's left, at 500ft, that is not fit yet. We should finish the malting barley on the hill by mid afternoon today and then it's on to the Zebedee and Cordiale on the hill for the weekend, weather (as always) permitting. Straw baling has been moving on apace with 3 balers in the fields yesterday (thanks Brian). These will be planted with Catana Oilseed Rape behind the carrier and biodrill very soon. The wind is proving a mixed blessing at the moment: keeping the showers away or whizzing them through very quickly, but it is also hindering the bean desiccation and slug pellet application on the rape already planted, as always in this job there is a comprise to be made at some point or another. Carling have got their featured growers on their web site now, have a look, you might recognise someone on

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Start of Wheat Harvest

The wheat harvest finally started on the 8th August in very dry and dusty conditions, needless to say that didn't last long. After a great weekend cutting over 220 acres of rape and wheat the damp weather has returned frustrating everyone. Here the last 9m goes into the combine a John Deere S690, equipped with Autotrak, (I can't drive that straight) on Monday morning. Later in the day a heavy shower forced us to stop. Hopefully the forecast will provide a little ray of sunshine or two and we'll be going again soon. The field was Solstice wheat, average moisture was 16.8% and it yielded about 8t/Ha.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Red Clover Sucess

A peacock butterfly enjoying some nectar in the sunshine on a red clover flower head. the new ley was planted in April and is a red clover and perennial rye grass mix aimed at growing a high protein source of feed for the sheep. A first cut of silage will be made and subsequently fed to our ewes in the run up to lambing. Lambs will be used to graze off the aftermath, which should provide a valuable feed on clean grazing for them just after weaning. If the wet summer has been bad for most of the farm then this is one area that enjoyed a regular soaking!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Hill Top-Topdown-Top Job

Between the showers, (incidentally it's been the second wettest July for 58 years at Overbury) we have managed to get our new cultivator and tractor into action. Derek is using the machine after winter barley, straw baled and removed, getting a growth of weeds and volunteers before we plant Oilseed Rape. The field is the same one that we cut on the 28th July late into the night. The fuel usage of the tractor is in the region of 40L/hr depending on whether he's going uphill or down. This equates to about 20l/ha or (£8/ha), which is pretty ecomonical, for doing this sort of operation. Outputs of the 4m topdown on Cotswold brash have been in excess of 35ha/day or 86 acre's, when it dries out hopefully we can get rolling on the heavier land, where the operational costs will undoubtedly be greater.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Grain Drying

Well, this is a very historic moment. I am updating my block from the grain store office on my blackberry device.
I haven't got a photo to show you yet, watch this space. I am drying the winter barley, second time around, on a very wet depressing day,
I can't actually believe that it is the 1st of August and the Ashes Test has been abandoned for the day. It might sound daft but this rain is almost worse for the crops than the very heavy downpours we had earlier in the week.
This rain soaks through eveything, the ears of wheat will be swelling up and taking all of that moisture in. Let's hope the weather picks up soon or it will be another rerun of 2008.
On a positive note we managed to get the new John Deere 8530 working yesterday between the showers, trying out the topdown on barley stubbles and it was doing a great job!