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Talking Arable with Iain Green: From pen to pen, writing from the Stirling Bull sales!

Iain Green farms in partnership with his parents Jimmy and Nan Green at Garmouth, Morayshire. He is currently president of the council of the British Simmental Cattle Society and is a past president of the Royal Northern Agricultural Society.

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I am writing this month’s article from a pen at the Stirling Bull sales, as we sit and wait for the show and sale to commence in two day’s time. I am pleased with our entry, but will have to wait and see how they match up in the ring.


It is so frustrating, travelling around the country seeing everyone else pushing on with muck spreading and ploughing, but our local area seems to have had the most rain and has never recovered from all the rain we had through August, September and October, only now has the high water table started to decline.


While the lightest ground has now become dry enough to allow us to get on with muck spreading and ploughing, I am holding off touching the heavy land until it dries out enough to allow us to rip it open and level the combine tracks. It will be interesting to see if I can find a machine which will do the sub-soiling and levelling in one pass and leave the land suitable for the plough.


I had originally planned sub-soiling with our conventional two-leg subsoiler and then giving them a double deep cultivate with our pigtail cultivator, but this is going to take too much time and will be too energy consuming.


I have made my final cropping plan and decided on all my Ecological Focus Areas (EFA). I have never left this so late in the season and changed my plans so many times as and when the rules have been changed or updated. My final EFA will consist of temporary grass left fallow, stubble left fallow, barley under sown and wild bird seed areas.


The lightest land at Corskie has become dry enough for muckspreading and ploughing to get under way
After yet more rain on-farm it has been frustrating, travelling round, to see others getting on with ploughing

Difficult to predict

It is difficult to predict the forward price of cereals and I am unsure how much more to sell forward. All the local maltsters are reducing their contract tonnages for spring barley for this coming harvest and with our nearest spirit distillery continuing to use maize because of its better performance over wheat. Cereals don’t have a great short-term outlook, but it is a long time until harvest and a lot can happen between now and then.


Most of the winter barley has come through the winter well apart from any areas which were water-logged. The sprayer has been fitted with its floatation tyres and will apply liquid N35S nitrogen as soon after February 20 (Nitrate Vulnerable Zone regulations) as possible.


The next plan will be to apply a fungicide to clean up the mildew along with manganese and herbicide.


Before we get too busy drilling spring cereals I am going to experiment with the drilling tractor and the tractor doing the rolling, because last autumn we purchased Cambridge rollers to fit in with our 30-metre tramlines. Hopefully the rolling tractor can follow exactly in the tramlines by importing all its guidance lines from the drilling tractor using a USB memory stick.


By using two memory sticks the drill driver can simply hand the guidance lines to the roller driver while continuing to drill the next fields.


At the end of the drilling season we can then upload the guidance lines from every field into the sprayer to take full advantage of the autosteer fitted to it. In the future it will give us the option to stop tramlining, but I am not sure if the wheelings will produce too many greens in the grain sample if there are no tramlines.


Straw transportation to the livestock units continues, but as always happens when you start carting straw you seem to use more, after a quick count of the remaining sheds and hopefully an early spring we will have enough to see us through until the cattle are all turned out to grass, but the pig unit will require straw through until harvest which we may have to purchase.


  • Iain Green farms in partnership with his parents Jimmy and Nan Green at Garmouth, Morayshire. He is currently president of the council of the British Simmental Cattle Society and is a past president of the Royal Northern Agricultural Society.


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