Thursday, 30 September 2010

A Slick Fix

Our 2 year old Bateman RB35 (batemansprayers) self propelled sprayer was in the farm workshop yesterday with a hydraulic oil leak.  The leak started during harvest but was only a slight drip, drip, drip and so went unrepaired.  It has been getting worse with the increased use since harvest, spraying off volunteers and putting down pre-emergence herbicides on rape and latterly wheat.  As it was raining yesterday Tim power-washed the area where the suspected leak was emanating from, removed the wheel and located a small solenoid attached to a leaking pipe.   Half a turn with the spanner cured the problem after a 3 hour operation to remove the wheel and bodywork to gain access to the offending pipe.  If only all breakdowns were that easy to fix.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Sowing The Seeds

Sorry all I could not resist this bit of 'Farming to Music'.  It is actually a cover version done by the The Wurzels which I feel is rather fitting considering the agricultural theme!.  I was drilling, or planting, a variety of wheat, called Gallant, which we are growing for the milling wheat market.  This variety is liked by many millers and if all things go to plan could be being milled into flour from next November (2011).  A proportion of this crop has already been sold forward some as far ahead as March 2012!  This demonstrates how long term the farming industry is and how much money and investment is made into our crops that we will not see a return on for at least 18 months.
If you think this is a long term commitment then consider breeding beef animals? If the cow is pregnant for 9 months and then the calf takes a further 24 months to fatten (can be quicker) then you would have to wait nearly 3 years to get any money back and who knows were the price will be that far ahead.  Would you get a better return on a no ball during the 3rd over?

Friday, 24 September 2010

Quinoa On The Menu

This is a strip 15m wide of quinoa and kale that just about managed to survive and establish during the dry summer months. The colours are fantastic to look at and are shinning brightly in the warm autumn sun shine.  The seed heads are full and although a little thinner than I would have liked should provide a valuable feed source for the coming winter.  Too late for British Food Fortnight but great for the LBJ's (little brown jobs AKA birds) over the coming few months.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Lamb Selection

Today Tod and I gathered up a group of lambs that have been grazing the stubble turnips that were planted in April.  The lambs have been grazing them for about 4 weeks and we thought they would be ready to sell through the Mayhill Lamb Group to Randall Parker Foods and the onto Sainsbury's.  The lambs were all weighed and their weights recorded on our Shearwell weighing system.  They were weighed two weeks ago and the average growth rate has been about 1.5kg liveweight/week.  We picked out 86 lambs that weighed between 42kg and 46kg liveweight which will be taken to the abattoir early next week and could be on the shelves of Sainsbury's stores by the end of the week.We then have a bit of a dilemma as the field with the turnips, should be planted with wheat by the end of September but with so many lambs nearly ready a change in diet could set them back.  With the current growth rates many more will be of marketable weight in two weeks time so that might be the cue to move the lambs and plant the wheat.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Slug Trapping

We have now started to plant (or drill) the seeds for next years crops.  We have started drilling on our highest ground on the top of Bredon Hill to try and get the young plants well established before the nights get colder and slows down their growth.  One of the main risks to the young seedlings at this time of year and after oilseed rape, are slugs!  There are some cultural control methods as practised using 'integrated farm management' such as rolling the soil surface to consolidate the soil.  This makes it hard for the slugs to move around in the soil from plant to plant.  In conjunction to rolling we might need to apply slug pellets.  Before we spread the pellets on the field we have to see if there are enough slugs there to justify the application so we set some traps.  I have selected the area of the field where there is slightly more trash (crop residue from the previous OSR as there are likely to be higher slug populations in the moist organic matter. 

I raided the game keepers pheasant food bin and located some layers mash as my tasty lure for the unsuspecting slug headcount.  After dishing out the free lunch I covered the mash with an insulated sheet, weighted it down with stones and left the scene.  The sheet will keep the area of mash moist and dark, just the right habitat for the slugs to feed in.  I will return in a couple of days for a headcount to see if there is justification in a application of pellets.


Sunday, 12 September 2010

Big Green Tractor

Sound again required for this footage and be patient right to the end! You can't beat a good bit of Country and Western (Jason Aldean on itunes), mixed with a slight rock undercurrent and tractors! Enjoy, I thought it was quiet funny, although I'm sure the mix has been done before, but it could start a new trend.. maybe the Wurzels could be next??

Friday, 10 September 2010

Rape Rolling

The beauty about autotrac is that once it is set up, in the field, it allows you to concentrate more on the job in hand rather than keeping in a straight line. That is the case most of the time! However whilst I was rolling yesterday, ipod wired into the tractor radio system, I had a little bit of fun. Listen and watch the clip to share in some of my humour.... (by the way no animals, trees, hedges, walls or pylons were hurt in the making of the clip)

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Oilseed Rape Planting with Home Made Drill

After sitting in the farm workshop most of the year our new project was finally tested. The cultivator drill was originally designed to plant beans straight into the stubble, a one pass, minimal tillage bean planter. After a little modification we managed to sort out the seed rate and Derek set off on the trial planting Sesame Oilseed Rape. Half of the field was 'topdowned', straight after the bales had been shifted, which meant a really good chit of grass weeds. Although not part of the original plan it will be an interesting test using the new drill into land previously loosened. The object will be to retain as much moisture as possible for the small seeds to grow in and to allow good root development down into the disturbed soil. A second field is to be trialled as well; half with the new drill and half with our vaderstadt carrier and biodrill. We'll see how the fields develop!