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Rodney Down: Forget April showers, it's May's turn

We have had more rain in the first three days of May than all of April combined.

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The last time this happened we had bumper yields, but with lower prices every time I write this article and all of us carrying on regardless, we can all but hope. In fact it’s all set up well to achieve that. Grass silage fields look heavy and the cereals are disease free and now taking up the final dose of nitrogen.

 

We are doing a trial in the cereals where we applied the total nitrogen in one application mixed with an inhibitor. The scorching was impressive to start with but the crop now does look stronger with more robust tillers. It’s a 24-meter (79-feet) strip up through a 40.5-hectare (100-acre) field of wheat so the results will be visible to all!!

 

Being the first year of liquid nitrogen users we are reasonably impressed with the accuracy, especially on the headlands. I am even more convinced when I see the stripes left by wrongly set fertilizer spinners, we all get it now and then but the dry spring has showed them up even more this year.

 

Spring turnout this year on the dairy cows was a welcome release from the winter daily routine. Especially when we analysed the daily performance. We dropped £68 in milk value per day on a weekly average but also dropped more than £400 of feed and bedding costs per day. We had finished calving and stopped serving to dairy sires, our new British blue bull and Charolais were added to the herd. I know we are predominately autumn calving but I wouldn’t change the system at all when it comes to managing Holsteins at grass.

 

We all love to break our farm records and accomplish new farming feats but father-in-law took it to a new level this spring. “I’m going to make some hay” he said as we all laughed, it was April after all. More determined than ever off he set mowed his grass (over stood from last autumn admittedly) and a week later he round baled his hay; he even managed to sell the bales off the field!

Rodney Down, Somerset

Rodney Down farms with his wife Claire at Higher Wrantage Farm, Taunton, Somerset, with 125ha (307 acres) on a farm business tenancy and a further 323ha (800 acres) rented and contract farmed. He milks 300 Holstein Friesians and runs 350 beef cattle and followers. The farm includes 180ha (445 acres) feed wheat and 61ha (150 acres) of maize.

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