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Steve Heard: The change in weather sees us shift through the gears

While write this, I am reclined in a super comfortable leather coach seat en route to the German Hockenheim motor racing circuit.

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Unfortunately I am not acting as stand-in for Jenson Button but instead as a guest of John Deere to rate the performance of their new tractor gearbox around the tarmac infield of the F1 facility.

 

It is always fascinating to do a tractor factory tour but even with increased automation and robotics they still seem unable to make significant cost savings.

 

Perhaps the most impressive advances involve the incredible precision and thorough testing of parts and procedures along the whole production line.

 

It must be hugely frustrating to the designers that modern tractors with farmers at the wheel, still break down.

 

Back home, spring has finally sprung and the dust has been washed off the sprayer once more. Some tidy up herbicide has been rushed onto odd fields of OSR to control thistles and mayweed before the green buds became visible.

 

With reduced puddles in the tramlines, we have now managed to apply the first nitrogen to our oilseed crop.

 

The mild winter has presented healthy plants with advanced GAI allowing a relaxed first timing of fertiliser. Our usual three application split will be applied in just two doses this season. Next job for the sprayer now will be a first spring fungicide and a multi-trace element foliar feed as I continue to chase the pigeons across the field.

 

Wheat crops are growing away nicely and I am in no hurry just yet to apply any additional nutrients or chemicals.

 

Autumn residuals generally have performed above expectations, although there are a few exceptions. These problem fields will be destined for a spring crop next year but, until then, I will continue to be reminded never to be complacent in the black-grass battle.

 

With the shock news that the Co-operative are likely to sell their neighbouring Stoughton estate, I have decide to take on a paper round and save hard.

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