This years’ Autumn crop planting has been a disaster. Every time the soil got close to being dry enough to go drilling (crop planting) the weather decided to rain…again.
We have managed to get around 50% of the area planted that we had planned, into far-from-ideal soil conditions. In a perfect world we would like the soil damp enough to provide the moisture needed for the seeds to swell and plants to grow, but still dry enough that the soil structure can carry the weight of the tractor without causing any compaction damage.
When the soil is too wet (as this year) the heavy machinery smears the soil and squeezes out the vital air pockets within, turning the soil into a lifeless mass that the crop roots and shoots cannot penetrate whilst trapping any further rainfall on the surface.
Although we are more behind our work schedule than ever, we realise that some people have their whole farm meters under water, causing damage that will take decades to put right.
Yet it is hard to feel lucky when knelt under a seed drill at midnight, covered head to toe in mud, trying to unblock the machine for the 10th time, in a desperate hurry to get the field planted before the next band of rain.
The wet has also forced us to bring our cattle in from the fields over a month earlier than last year. Although the cattle are still happy out in the fields, their hooves will do lasting damage to the pasture in these saturated conditions.
This will put great pressure on our winter feed reserves, so hopefully we will have enough silage and hay to see us through until spring.
With Christmas around the corner I would just like to remind you of the fantastic food we grow in this country. If you see the red tractor logo, you know that food has been grown in the UK to our high standards, whereas imported foods can use chemicals and methods of production that are illegal here.
Christmas provides a great opportunity to shop locally, be that to buy your turkey, sprouts, Christmas tree or even a hamper of farmer’s market goodies, all of which will come with their own story and I am sure you will be see, taste and smell the difference.
As always jump onto @headysfarm on facebook or twitter to find out more or ask any questions, Merry Christmas!