How my day looks is dependent on the season and what we have going on at the farm. However, it always starts the same way by having a meeting with Silvery Tweed Managing Director, Bob Gladstone, to talk about any business issues, machinery maintenance or animal care we may have.
There are some tasks that need to be carried out all year round. Dealing with the logistics side of running a farm is one such thing as we need to ensure our stock levels are well maintained. Deliveries of products like fertiliser and sprays need to be arranged, as do deliveries of crop seeds. Grain wagons also arrive regularly for loading and we always make sure we have fuel and parts for the machinery.
During the winter, it will then be on with feeding and bedding the cattle to check that they have everything that they need and are well looked after. In the summer, the cows are out in the fields, so I walk around them to check that they are fit and healthy.
We have an agronomist who comes weekly to advise us on what sprays we should use and the timings for them and help check for cereal diseases such as yellow rust. It’s a great opportunity to further my knowledge, so I will walk the fields with our agronomist and inspect the plants and check on the drainage and soil conditions.
Once I’m finished speaking with the agronomist, it’s on with some maintenance on the machinery. Regardless of the time of year, there are always maintenance jobs to do as we must avoid breakdowns as that would mean everything grinds to a halt. Similarly, there are often other bits of maintenance to sort around the farm. Fences to fix, evasive weeds in the pasture grounds to remove and generally keeping the farm in top condition.
In early spring, my days will be taken up with spreading fertiliser and spraying the crops to prevent disease. This is essential to the health and maintenance as we look to get a good yield from each field. It is around this time that we drill crops of spring barley and spring oats.
In early summer we will cut our first crop of silage whilst late summer is dominated by the harvest of cereal crops. I’ll keep a close eye on the moisture levels on the crops as we need the morning dampness to burn off before starting, but we usually have the combine harvester in the fields from 10.30am and, if conditions are favourable, we will finish around 9.00pm. Once the harvest is finished and the bales are safely stored away, we are straight on with ploughing and cultivating the fields to establish the next season's crops in the ground.
It may surprise some to know that we plan what we will grow about 12 months in advance. By mid-summer, we are looking at which fields are performing well, the products that need to go to the mill and exploring any niche crops that we may want to trial. This must be factored in alongside growing trial crops for customers. We establish temporary grass in some fields to aid with soil health. The clover in the grass helps to fix nitrogen in the soil for following crops whilst the sward as a whole creates organic matter. These fields always give great crops of winter wheat when we go back to putting crops in.
My evenings are often spent looking at new variants of crops that we could look to trial on the farm and researching new machinery. I’m an avid reader of farming literature and farming forums to further look at how we can keep evolving and improving what we offer.
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