It is getting dry. Locally, light land is practically burning up, heavy soils look to be about 10 days behind and last year’s bumper silage crops look like they will be needed.
Maize is enjoying the hot sun, as are the haymakers. Agronomically speaking, tackling maize weed in such arid conditions is a challenge. Pre-emergent sprays are generally avoided here in such conditions.
However, in recent years, we have been mixing Stomp with liquid fertiliser, thereby ensuring a damp application even in dry times. The results can be variable.
Some farmers would be happy with the result, but for the purist you may well go in post-emergence albeit into a lightly weed-challenged crop.
This year we did a trial with Wing-P on a 12-hectare (30-acre) block mixed with the liquid fertiliser.
The results are encouraging albeit at a greater cost than Stomp. So far this field is looking like it will not need a revisit.
The second cut is looking okay and covers reasonable, but where cattle can access this, blocks are getting grazed as the grazing grass is reducing.
Grass growths in our area are as low as 20kg DM/ha (8kg DM/acre). In a good year I would expect it to be closer to four times this figure.
Staffing concerns on-farm due to lockdown and repatriation have eased as the Polish part of our team have found alternative ways to get back to the UK other than flying.
This has left us in the unexpectedly fortunate position of being able to undertake some large development projects which we had previously thought might need to be delayed into next year, depending upon the impact of Covid-19 on our team numbers.
College days many years ago encouraged us to adopt a policy of spending 15 per cent of our time on maintenance work, so fencing is high on the agenda as the prospect of kale to follow spring barley is looking highly likely on outlying blocks of ground.
Talking about the future, I read the House of Commons has rejected the idea of insisting imported foods mirror our own standards, which is of course very disappointing. Let’s see what the House of Lords has to say.
Events such as this make me wonder if we, as an industry, should lower our standards in order to compete, or hope the buyers for supermarkets and large food service companies insist on high standards and choose to resist the temptation to procure produce from countries which operate with lower standards than the UK.
My fear is these buyers will insist on high standards for UK-produced goods while importing from these other sources.
Morally, I think our industry efforts, for example to lower antibiotic usage to improve public health, is something to be proud of and never more relevant now as we find ourselves compromised by Covid-19.
This makes me think we should all be going the extra mile to improve public health.