Two fields of very similar soil type either side of the road. Drilled within a day of each other. One was established with a maize drill at 100,000 seeds per hectare the other drilled by weight of seed with our own John Deere 750A on conventional drill widths. The latter method has been in use for the last 5 years. Originally, we used the farm drill but blocked off spouts to give us 28” rows. This led to bunching down the rows even when we lowered the seed rate. Moving to conventional row widths of 168mm has solved the problem and now each plant has room to grow. There does not appear to be a yield penalty when we have compared it with a conventional maize drill in the past, but just to be sure we are having another look this year. Using a variable seed rate is new for us, but when Soyl asked us to help with a trial it made sense to have a go. The contractor was unable to achieve this with his drill, so as we are set up to vary seed rate with our own drill that’s what we used. We did end up using more seed than expected but we have had this before. A conventional fluted roller metering system does struggle with maize seed. Soyl will monitor biomass during the growth of the crop. The seed is varied according to the water holding supply of the soil. It’s amazing, looking at the maps, by how much this varies across the field. Maize needs over 300mm of water during its growing cycle. So far it’s had 13mm since it was drilled. A way to go yet!
We are currently recruiting another full time tractor driver to replace our previous employee, who on medical grounds has taken early retirement. Apart from looking for harvest workers it’s not something I have been involved in for at least 16 years. It has certainly changed. We have used what was once the main source of jobs in farming with an advert in a certain magazine. For an exorbitant fee, we got a couple of weeks on the website and a single ad in the magazine. An advert was put on the NFU site and another on a specialist site called 4xtra Hands. The latter has yielded by far the most candidates, followed by the online version of the magazine. The NFU and paper copy have not produced a single response. If we ever have to repeat this I know which I will use again. We have a number of promising individuals to interview and I feel confident we will find the right person to join our team here.