Frost brings a rare outing for the tractors.


One of the highest pressure readings on the barometer since 1957, so I was informed earlier this week. Down here in the south of England it bought with it a strange apparition in the sky. Apparently it’s called the sun. However, it didn’t hang around for long and has now sadly gone again. With it came a few days of frost, which allowed us to fire up the tractors and take them out for a spin. It didn’t seem like a good idea to try and drill any wheat just because the surface was no longer a sloppy mess, it’s still going to be wet and cold where the seed coulter is going and the weight of the tractor could do unseen damage to the soil below as it passed over dragging the drill.

We did make use of the frost by cutting some hedges on the inside of the fields that hadn’t got done before the deluge arrived. It also gave us the chance to cart some of the 2500t of farmyard manure that we have to get onto the stubbles destined for maize. We try to keep the tractor and the heap on the headland tramline to minimise the damage, but it has been too wet since September to even achieve this. So there is an enormous pile in the yard of the beef producer with whom we have a muck for straw deal. The farmyard manure has had a real impact on our poor soils across the farm since we have been growing the maize, which is for the same farmer. The crop also helps with the control of blackgrass, with its later drilling date and different herbicide options. By picking an early variety, it allows us to get the crop off in good time and follow up with wheat. It all came off in the dry for harvest 2019 and all bar 10ha of heavier ground, from a total of 65ha of last year’s maize, is sown to wheat. Overall, we have got 66% of our wheat area drilled. I still hope to try and get some more in next month if the soil dries out in time. At least by the end of February we are getting nearer to the point where soils start to warm up rather than get colder. It sounds good in theory but will it work in practice? More sunshine please.

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