Mid-February update from Driffield Monitor Farm

As I sit looking out of the window, having eaten my lunch, it is lovely bright sun after a frosty morning.

We have taken the hedgecutter off the tractor and put on the fert spreader, as we shall soon think about putting some urea on our later rape after wheat. I just wanted to give the fert spreader a run up to check all the electric controls where ok after the winter lay up.

In general crops, look well with the first wheat Revelation looking a bit straggly as it looses it older leaves and starts to grow away. The Conversion is a little leggy after vining peas: I am pleased we did not drill it any earlier!

The second wheats look ok now but have suffered with nitrogen being grabbed by all the harvest residue in the seedbed as they were all either min-tilled or strip-tilled.

We are still trying to get on with herbicides, but it is still too wet to travel sensibly as we have had our contractor in this morning but have only done one field and given up again as it is still too wet.

Yesterday we went to the York Monitor Farm meeting as it was all about gypsum and how best to use this often free resource on your soils. It turned out to be a more complex question than I had realised but the speaker did give us a series of questions to look at when deciding which field to apply it to.

I am looking forward to our next Monitor Farm meeting on grain drying, as I have had a challenge this year to get all our wheat down to 14.5 with the RH (relative humidity) we have had down the East coast since September. At one stage we did get our old modulating gas burner out from the old drying system and wired it into one of the new grain stores. This worked ok for air at around 70% RH or below but it soon consumed some gas.

I was amazed at how muck the air RH changes during the day, as I was working close to the unit I kept going and checking the burner as it had not been used for a year or two. As I did so I checked the RH readout on the burners display: as soon as any cloud arrived in the sky the display would start to rise.

The most useful thing I did find out was that if you click on any hour during the day on BBC weather  it opens up giving more details, which include RH of the air so you can try and pick a block of three or four days of good drying weather to start and run your drying fans.

Well, here is hoping for some drier weather as we will soon want to cut our miscanthus.



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