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G.M.Hunter Ltd.

Tilbrook Grange

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Devon Cattle Breeders Herd Competition 2016


October 17

By jameshunter1, Jan 7 2018 08:38PM

Life up on the farm (by James Hunter)

October has been another busy month, the weather has been kind & jobs have gone well. The main arable job has been to do the autumn cereal drilling. This year for as long as I can remember we have only planted winter wheat. Winter barley has been dropped and spring barley acreage will be increased. This change has been based on costs and margins for winter against spring barley. Also the spring barley gives us a better chance to control the blackgrass than we can do in a winter barley field.

I noted last month that drilling this autumn I was going to go round 5 times for the headland instead of four. This is because we have a new sprayer. The old sprayer was 24m wide and had been on the farm for 12 years. We had put £1.25millon of products through it! The new one is 30m (100foot) wide. It was delivered straight from the factory and then set up on our tractor over several days. The new model (Vantage) won the Sprayer of the year at the Sima Show in Paris. It has a larger tank, pump & boom compared to the old one. It has better suspension and low drift air induced nozzles. But the most significant change, better for the environment and our pocket is that the sprayer is controlled by satellites to an accuracy of just a few inches. This ensures the chemicals are put on more accurately than a driver can do & should eliminate overlapping. It is by far the most expensive machine we attach to a tractor. (Photo of controls in cab)

You may have noticed that the countryside colour has changed quickly. The rape fields are all growing away quickly. The wheats have gone into moisture and with the warm temperatures, have emerged quickly. Slugs have not been active and we have hardly had to apply any blue pellets to control them. After the drilling all fields are rolled to consolidate soil round the seed and to prevent the moisture from drying out. We then have to apply two lots of chemicals to control blackgrass & other weeds. All four jobs have to be done before the wheat comes up, quite a challenge as rolling cannot be done if it has rained and the chemicals have to be applied in low wind conditions. All has been achieved but not during the office workers’ 9 till 5 hours!

Last harvest’s spring barley has been loaded away this week. The specification was high and good enough to get a malting grade & premium. Sometimes it can be very frustrating and a costly gamble if the quality is not right. It was loaded, 29 tonnes on each lorry. Every load is tested at the destination’s laboratory before tipping. Thankfully, no phone calls giving a deduction or reject. A rejection can mean a price crash down to feed grade + a redirection charge or at worst a return journey back to the farm and a haulage bill. We have had the worst scenario in the past.

On the cattle front, it has been another wonderful month for them. The weather could have hardly been better. Seldom a wet day and plenty of grass to eat. Calves have been running around and growing well. We have been bringing some in for winter housing this week. There are still just a few to finish calving & then the year starts all over again.

Finally, an observation in the garden, we have both daffodils & dahlias both flowering together on the 1st November!

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