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Farmer Focus: Crops are growing at a snail’s pace

The end of March is the usual time for us to be thinking about applying growth regulator to our winter wheat, but this year, with the cold and dry weather holding everything back, chlormequat did not go on until the end of April.

Grass growth has also been at a snail’s pace and the sheep have been unimpressed by the lack of feed.

The arable side of the farm has helped the sheep again. No, we did not turn the ewes and their lambs on to some winter wheat, but we did put them on a wild bird mix area that had greened up enough with volunteer cereals to get the sheep excited.

Clever science is behind our local firm BFS’ product, PolyNPlus foliar nitrogen fertiliser.

The methylene urea is a slow-release fertiliser that can be foliar applied with no scorch. In the current dry conditions, it should get nutrition into the plant when there is no chance of rain to wash conventional fertiliser in. We are applying it with a triazole and strobilurin fungicide at T1.

There is still so much we don’t understand about crop nutrition, but we do know that soil-applied fertiliser is far too inefficient and potentially polluting.

This product, when applied in a co-ordinated programme of early-season soil-applied N, is claimed to reduce the nitrogen needed because it is much more efficient. If it works, it could be a major step forward in achieving net zero for farming.

While Hew has been busy either spraying or using the mole plough in ideal conditions, overseeing the flock as they lamb has largely been down to me.

It has been made much more enjoyable with the help of two local teenagers, Monty and Lily. Both from non-farming backgrounds, they are the keenest beans and pick things up quickly.

It is wonderful to see that they have got the farming bug, and next year we will make sure that lambing falls during their Easter holidays again.

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