There has been a lot of activity over the last month with all 120 hectares (300 acres) ploughed for spring barley in good condition.
We have only had to leave 7ha (17 acres) of stubbles and 8ha (20 acres) of temporary grass fallow for greening, as it is amazing how all our buffer strips and water margins have added up. A bit more thought had to go into the ploughing so that I made sure I did not go too near any hedges or ditches and fall foul of good agricultural and environmental condition requirements. It is all frustrating when you only want to farm all available land to the best of your ability, but I am sure you are all cursing under your breath as I am at this continual political interference in our daily working lives.
Filling in the Basic Payment Scheme form is another story, but that has been left to our consultant Gerald, who I am sure will be due a holiday once he has completed the process for his 300+ clients. Good luck Gerald.
As well as ploughing, I have been cracking on with the first application of fertiliser on the winter crops. All the winter wheat, barley and oilseed rape has received 250 litres/ha of liquid N25s. The 50 units of N should wake everything up from what has been a slow spring so far.
I mentioned in a past article I had changed my sprayer to a three-year-old RG655 Rogator. I have never been intimidated by a machine before, but this thing scared the cr*p out of me before I got going. We had a lot of niggles to sort out over the winter, but credit to Challenger it has all been done under warranty.
Now I am up to the machine, I just love it. It is comfortable to drive, with excellent boom stability. For such a big machine it has hardly left a mark in soft conditions, even though it is 19 tonnes when full of fertiliser. However, though the Rogator is much more comfortable to drive, my old Bateman only lost £7,500 for the five years I had it. If the residual value of the Rogator is anywhere near as good and if it is anywhere near as reliable as my old RB25 then it will have proved to be a good buy.
Peter Chapman farms 432 hectares (1,067 acres) near Fraserburgh, in Aberdeenshire. The mainly arable farm also has suckler cows and pullet rearing enterprises as well as four Enercon 800kW wind turbines. Peter is a Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland one-year director and is on the Ringlink board.