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Talking Arable with Iain Green: Making harvest decisions

After months of research into varieties of drones on the market, I came to a decision and purchased one
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Harvest started here on July 10 with winter barley. When we started it was coming in at 18.4% but by early evening it was down to 15.7% moisture. Almost all of the winter barley is six-row hybrid and the first fields have averaged 8.42 tonnes per hectare, which is okay. Straw yield is good.


There are some areas of winter barley which have gone flat with the thunder storms we have recently experienced in this area.


Unfortunately there are much larger areas of spring barley flat which is causing a problem keeping crows away from it. Growth of spring cereals was so lush and rapid through May I was correct to apply growth regulator, I only wish I had applied it to more fields.


Rather than do a blanket treatment, I decided to first select the fields I thought were at the highest risk of going flat, but clearly should have applied a little more widely. Hopefully we will have a good spell of dry sunny weather in which to harvest the flatter fields.


The decision to replace our combine was made after last October. Our new one has arrived and is performing very well. It is similar to our old one but has a few little improvements, one of which is a press roller at the end of the straw elevator just before the crop enters the rotors. This appears to have increased performance and allowed for a very smooth, even crop flow through the combine.


I recently hosted two open farm afternoons, the first being a visit by other farmers and agronomists to view the winter barley and spring barley variety trial plots. I have hosted these trial plots for more than six years now. Although a lot of work at drilling time they allow me to compare old and new varieties on my land. Each plot is about one-hectare in size, so giving a good representation of performance.


The second afternoon was hosted by a major maltster. It invited all its distillery customers to come on-farm in order to study the varieties growing in the field, as well as to hear and see all the problems and challenges associated with growing spring malting barley. We finished the afternoon with a BBQ and sampled some of the end product. I found this afternoon satisfying as it allowed me to get closer to my end customer and hear about their challenges in producing an ideal spirit from barley. As well as being in the field I also gave them a presentation on the pros and cons of growing spring barley for malting. Many took the opportunity to view all the machinery required to establish and grow these crops including a look at the GPS technology we are using.


After months of research into varieties of drones on the market, finally at the end of May I came to a decision and purchased one. Within a few hours of it being home I had filmed a field of spring barley I suspected was suffering from manganese deficiency. Sure enough from the air, evidence of manganese deficiency was just starting to appear in very small areas. The film was e-mailed to the agronomist in the evening and next morning the chemical arrived and was applied in the afternoon.


All the hard work and time our stockman put in to preparing our Simmental cattle show team paid off at the recent Royal Highland Show.


We returned home with the overall Simmental champion having been awarded to one of our stock bulls, and one of his daughters became the junior female champion. The next couple of months will be busy with harvest, second cut silage, direct reseeding of grass and drilling winter cereals. Our Simmental show team will also be attending eight local agricultural shows within the next three weeks. Hopefully the weather will continue to be kind to us.


  • 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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