Just in case dealing with a global pandemic wasn’t challenging enough, we’ve had another plague hit our farm in the form of slugs. They’re intent on eating everything in sight, so we’ve been busy putting pellets down to try and deal with the influx.
However, I can’t complain too much because conditions for sowing were fantastic this year and we had a great run getting everything into the ground. After last year’s rain this was a relief. We did have a bit of flooding thanks to one particularly wet day, but our dry soils were able to cope (although I very nearly lost my wellies when I ventured out to check on the wheat and barley!)
Weather conditions last year were difficult, which was reflected in our results. More than ever, I’m grateful to be part of the Corteva and LEAF Resilient and Ready programme as we remain determined to prepare our business for whatever challenges lie ahead.
We were happy to manage 9.4t/ha for our winter barley after hearing some horror stories from other farmers only just managing to break 7t/ha. We had to cut it at 21/22% moisture because it started to break and it was a case of take it or lose it. However, considering the stress it went through in our exceptionally dry spring we were happy.
We cut our oilseed rape at 12.5% and got 5.1t/ha which we are delighted with. Our neighbour got the same, it must be down to the season, rather than something amazing we have done!
We managed 7.6 t/ha for spring barley, but again we had to cut it at 22% because it started to break.
Now we start afresh for next year and we’re already optimistic. We’ve finished drilling and everything is now in the ground. Our winter barley is looking good, as is our wheat.
We’ve used a different variety of oilseed rape and it’s already looking fantastic. A little too great, if I’m honest, as the leaves already look huge but only time will tell if it’s too far on before winter.
We’ve started doing some GPS soil mapping with Hutchinsons too and we’ve also made a start on nutrient planning. We’re doing some trials on a field of winter barley, putting different quantities of P and K on separate tramlines, so we look forward to seeing the results from that.
Elsewhere on the farm we’ve been purchasing grain for our hens and pigs. We’ve recently taken on additional hens and now produce one million eggs every week, so there are a lot of mouths to feed.
A lot of farmers had their malting barley rejected this year so we bought 2,000 tonnes of barley and 3,000 tonnes of wheat. However we’re struggling to buy soya, as prices are currently through the roof. We had already bought 500 tonnes on contract but securing an additional 250 tonnes of protein is going to be a big concern for us going forward, becoming one of our biggest costs.
We’ve considered growing our own peas or beans but there are lots of unanswered questions before we consider this more seriously.
· Farming in Aberdeenshire
· 160ha farm
· 148,000 free range and enriched colony laying hens
· 150 bulling heifers
· 2,000 Pigs weaned to finish