It’s great to welcome back, James Milnes, of @RuralPics with a spring 2015 farming roundup.
Since we last met the sugar beet campaign continued but is now all but done, reports are generally of good yields and good sugars across a number of different soil types. The last block of beet was taken up in my own locality only 3 weeks ago and within 24 hours was drilled with a spring wheat variety that has a strong resistance to Blackgrass which as any arable farmer will tell you is a major problem in crops. I recently had chance to join a group of Norwegian farmers who were entertained by a local famer and blackgrass isn’t something they have a problem with,also to note that farms generally in Norway are a lot smaller and cultivation methods are very different.
So, the winter was in most respects “Mild” above the ground with average temperatures of 4.4c for the month of December but there were some “blips” in this general pattern with some sharp winter temperatures, strong winds and heavy rainfall. Most crops by this time will have been in the ground for some time and starting to emerge, our own winter wheat wasn’t drilled until Christmas Eve and now after the winter is looking good with no initial signs of blackgrass. For those growing Oilseed Rape by Christmas the establishment regime will have decided what the potential yield will be for the forthcoming harvest. Soil temperatures recently have been recently reported as warming up but not quite where they should be as the aforementioned OSR crops are still “purple” with some growing yet to be done to flower before harvest, however I did see this example of a flowering OSR plant in otherwise “purple” crop in my locality just last weekend. Looking forward, with good weather the fields of OSR should start to turn to their traditional vibrant yellow in the next 4 – 6 weeks
The potato season has just started again for the 2015 harvest, a window in the weather this last week to ten days has seen much activity planting salad and main crop varieties which should be harvested late July into August. Spring crops have also been drilled in recent weeks during this weather window, these include peas, beans, barley and wheat varieties. Yesterday was very much a drilling day with sunny dry conditions despite the wind, but overnight the rain has come and put a stop to it.
Technologly is the future
So, what does the future hold for arable farming – technology is the key. I attended the first Lincolnshire Farming Conference recently to get an insight from some industry specialists and the message is a strong one. Technology for precision farming is not just for big farms, it can be just as effective and affordable for smaller farms.
How – with the retail technology platforms such as smartphones & tablets(Ipads etc) as part of the “Mass Market” effect being able to utilise the specific farming apps and with the technology being charged at a fixed cost of £/Ha, so for a small farm the investment is less than that of a much larger farm with the same set-up or as was originally the case a bespoke set-up.
Why – the cost to produce crops is always a big concern and the prices being paid back for those crops are just in the last 12 months lower than they were, so if you can take advantage of technology to reduce your costs to produce and potentially increase your yields it can only be a good thing right??
By the time we meet again the weather will be warmer(generally) and the days longer now that British Summer Time has arrived, and that means that we will be heading towards Harvest 2015!