Talking Arable with Iain Green: Well ahead of last spring


I am pleased to say my New Year’s resolution has taken a turn for the better and I have now lost 8kg since January 9. It has not been easy, but I am determined to continue and keep the weight off this time, but with several social events coming up it will be difficult. I will just to have hope that with spring work and lambing around the corner I can work it off.


The spell of unseasonably good weather has continued through January and into mid-February, allowing us to catch up with muck spreading and ploughing. With about 200 hectares left to plough for spring cereals, we are well ahead of last spring.


With the grass continuing to grow, the ewes have only been fed hay and are in very good condition. Since scanning, we have started to give ewes carrying twins and triplets a liquid supplement and this year, having spare oats left, we have been feeding them instead of starting the bought concentrate so early.


I was very happy with the results of the scanning as we have achieved 206% for the ewes and gimmers and 132% for the ewe hoggs.


Our first monitor farm open day was very successful, with more than 100 farmers and associates and over 35 students attending. It will be interesting for me to see the student’s reports and projects as their task was to come up with ideas on how they would change our farming business.


Going forward our next monitor farm meeting is planned for the end of May, where one of the topics will be soil compaction and care of the soil.


I had decided to stop growing spring oats as the cattle feed ration they were destined for has been changed and it is now being purchased instead of home mixed. But when I see how well the ewes have done on the oats, I have decided to plough up small areas of old grass where out-wintered cattle have caused damage and drill those areas with oats, hopefully managing to get them harvested in time for direct reseeding back into grass in autumn.


We have our variable rate maps produced and ready to upload into the tractor screen for applying potash to our winter cereals as soon as ground conditions allow. All the fields with higher index levels of P and K received a base seedbed fertiliser of 250kg/ha of 0/20/30. Fields with lower index’s received 250kg/ha of 0/26/26 at drilling and the variable rate application will now take them up to the required level for this year’s crop.


I am hoping the weather stays dry and we can get onto the rest of the winter wheat which didn’t receive its weed killer in autumn, or we could have some very large weeds to control.


I have now locked into a total of 300 tonnes of malting barley for harvest movement at an average price of £136.60/t based on wheat futures plus a £20/t malting barley premium to be added, making £156.60/t. The question is, do I lock in more or wait to see what the market does?


Considering this is a very small percentage of my potential tonnage, I will be keeping a close eye on the markets and locking in more 100t parcels when I feel the price looks attractive.


My only concern is I haven’t price fixed any feed barley for our pig unit for next season yet and it worries me that I could be in the same situation as we are presently, where we are paying £119 for spot feed barley and we only received an average malting barley price last harvest of £129.80/t.

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