Driffield harvest review 2014

It is finally drying up after ten days of rain. I am just finishing off drying the last of this harvest’s wheat on a very windy Sunday afternoon. Harvest is now long gone; rain harvest was a bit of a stop- start affair, with rain and wind dominating the wheat harvest and some of the worst winds we have ever tried to combine in. We even had to cut one long field in half so as to tip with the wind on the lee side of the combine. We could not lay straw at this point, so after talks with the local livestock farmers, we changed the fields they wanted for straw and continued. The barley stubble was pH tested by local lime spreading contractors but was confirmed to be ok with most readings around 6.8, so we did not apply any lime for the oilseed rape.

With changing things round due to wind, we had to lay the straw in the last field of wheat we cut because it was destined for oilseed rape. We also had to cut on a weekend when my son was at home to help with the grain carting as the field concerned is 1.5 miles from the holding. We wanted to save some of this field for seed as it was the cleanest crop of J B Diego on the farm. After that, we only had winter and spring beans left. Having finished the J B, we went straight into winter beans which were approximately 18.5 % moisture; this allowed me to cut the hedges around the last field the next morning, until I was rained off. We had sprayed once round the headlands with Reglone to kill off rosebay willow herb and thistle, which had grown on two sides of the field where the ditches had been cleaned out.

We drilled the oilseed rape variety quartz after the winter barley, using our own Sumo Trio with the discs removed. The new GLS points on the new legs that Sumo had profiled for us worked very well, giving very little disturbance to the soil surface. We think, due to wetter conditions, a little bit more surface disturbance is required, so I have welded power harrow points on to the wings for next year. We also had the opportunity to have a Sumo DTS drill on demonstration with which we drilled the Anastasia rape after the wheat.  This proved easy to use once we got it calibrated and set up; it will be interesting to see how the crop performs as we planted the headlands using our Trio for comparison.

We then went on to finish harvest with the spring beans which were grown for a local merchant for seed. They came off at 19% moisture and proved very slow to dry in the misty, damp weather that we have had since.

Turning now to cultivations, we have been supported by local machinery dealers and have tried four different makes of tine cultivator. All performed reasonably well; sometimes the conditions were a bit too moist due to the availability of the demonstration machines, but our improving soil structure seemed to recover well and now all second wheats have been drilled after one to two passes with these machines, I can report the emergence in all cases has been good. We were looking specifically for a better mix of chopped straw than we were currently getting with our existing equipment. Although we found it difficult to create a shallow stale seed bed with the cultivator, I think maybe in the future we need a straw rake directly behind the combine, to get the initial chit of black-grass etc. and then cultivate 80 to 150 mm deep, to get a really good mix of straw.



Philip Meadley farms 250ha near Driffield, approximately four miles from the North Sea coast. In a four-way family partnership, he grows milling wheat, oilseed rape, peas and barley. Phil is particularly interested in soil health, reducing fuel usage, addressing mycotoxins and looking at his whole approach to cultivations. http://cereals.ahdb.org.uk/driffield