Sutton St Edmund farmer on good soil management

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After the usual Sunday morning crop inspection and after being away it’s with great satisfaction, compared with the last few previous years, to see such good crop establishment with this autumn’s ideal weather, writes Tony Gent.

After the usual Sunday morning crop inspection and after being away it’s with great satisfaction, compared with the last few previous years, to see such good crop establishment with this autumn’s ideal weather.

Perhaps some of the oil seed rape is bit too thick; we still work on the principle on our heavy soil that first requirement is to get a field full as quickly as possible allowing for slugs, drought, cabbage stem flee beetle, weed competition and the onset of dreaded pigeons.

With the winter wheat we have been taking it very slowly. The pressure of grass weeds, particularly blackgrass, has mostly forced a programme of later drilling during the past few years. This year, with our many years of No-till, we have on some fields returned to a more conventional start time for our heavy soils of late September.

Looking around now the results have been mixed and although some fields are OK others are showing signs of some blackgrass. Where the weed pressure is not too bad, the earlier drilling should allow good crop yield potential. Experience has proved that a programme of zero tolerance is just not possible whatever you do. We feel that then the best control is to leave the seeds on the surface and pursue a robust crop rotation programme.

The current flocks in the free range egg enterprise are now in midterm of their laying period and laying OK, which is just as well as eggs reach their peak demand as we move towards the Christmas period. The future of egg production in the UK, an industry that has seen many changes, looks interesting as most supermarkets announced recently that they will only sell free range from 2025.