Thoughts are now with T0 at Berwick Monitor Farm

We had perfect weather on Monday, a superb spring day which got everyone excited only to be brought back down to earth with two days of dull, damp, mist and a cold NE breeze. So no sowing this week! Or next by the forecast. It did allow us to spray off the cover crops and ground going into spring crop with glyphosate ready for the drill.

Top dressing started on  19 Feb with the winter barley and OSR getting 80kg N & 50kg sulphur in a liquid and applied using our ‘new’ sprayer. We now have two identical 24m 3300L self-propelled machines from the nineties which are simple, robust and cost effective. Perfect for our business.

With all crops looking stressed and hungry I was keen to press on with the top dressing. Possibly a little quick but we managed to travel well with the odd wet hole here and there. After three weeks the winter barley is starting to green up while the OSR looks dreadful. It didn’t get off to a good start in the autumn and has struggled since. I don’t need to worry about managing a think canopy this year. The only plus is we haven’t spent much on it, one pass with Kerb in January to be precise which along with some liquid N & S has scorched what leaves are there that the wildlife hasn’t eaten. Rape is an amazing crop to recover and perform so this year I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

I’m happy with how the wheat is looking, which has also recently received its first application of N & S. Thoughts are now with T.0 which is fast approaching and will probably clash with drilling the way things are going. A program based around chlorothalonil to control septoria with some rust/ mildew protection from cyproconazole applied in the first week of April. This should give three week intervals between sprays up to T3. It’s going to be an interesting season seeing what effect the mild winter and cold spring will have on disease and development.

Our winter beans look well and I already feel that they are going to outperform the springs given that the springs are still in the bag and look to remain there for some time. Ground conditions aren’t great so it’s going to be a game of patience this year. Until the neighbours start. I’m planning to direct drill some with our modified drill similar to how some of the winter beans were established. We haven’t winter ploughed any ground this year for the first time and I’m already nervous about this new approach. Some fields were worked in the autumn and some left as stubble. Anywhere there was green growth be it cover crop, volunteer or weed (same thing) has better structure and more biology so next year we will aim to have green cover in all fields and no stubble. I absolutely think it’s the right thing to do. Or we might be getting the plough out again. Which I want to avoid.









Richard Reed farms a mix of owned and contract farmed land and contracting totalling 1170ha with his father near Berwick-upon-Tweed. He grows winter wheat for biscuit wheat or distilling, oilseed rape, winter barley for malt, feed, and seed, spring barley, and tried 3ha spring beans in 2014. During the Monitor Farm programme, Richard hopes to look at improving soil structure and condition, work force succession, grain marketing and machinery and establishment costs.