I have neighbours who regularly tell me they produce 5t/acre, admittedly after growing maize, but is very impressive. We on the other hand did not break any records this year UK or otherwise, our yields were as I expected fairly unexceptional.
The winter wheat barely made 3t/acre, the spring barley a very poor 2t/acre, and the Lupins which I thought would yield about 0.75t/acre probably did just that and not 1t/acre as the experts kept telling me they would.
Anyway it is at last safely tucked away in the grain store and we are now busy trying to lower the moisture level. For the first time in years we are using heat to help this process. It is costly but necessary to reduce the moisture content below 15%.
If Mr Lamyman can produce such a yield in a tricky year it will be interesting to follow his progress during a year which is perfect. He applies foliar fertiliser up to seven times a season. The aim is to keep the crop green and growing for as long as possible. It is a costly process to run the sprayer over the crop so many times but if he can produce results such as these it may well be cost effective.
It is worth noting that the crop followed oil seed rape and the soil is red chalk wold loam over solid chalk with no sub soil. It is free draining but retains the moisture which is somewhat different to our heavy grade three weald clay which was water logged for the best part of the winter and into the spring.
The hedge along the drive is alive with sparrows which when disturbed by passing traffic rise in a small cloud. They spend most of the time a stone’s throw away from the grain store, I suppose for obvious reasons.
Very few sparrows have been seen around here for many years and surprisingly we rather missed them. I remember the days when we were besieged by thousands of the little pests. They would descend upon a cereal crop which they would flatten and then strip bare. Many methods were employed unsuccessfully, to scare them off the farm as they caused so much damage and destruction.
There was a recent report which noted that House Sparrow numbers had stabilised after the population had fallen by half. In 1970 there were around 12 million pairs, and today about 6 million. From the numbers which are now appearing at Ote Hall it seems they maybe on the increase once again.
So far they are confining their activities around the farm buildings and hedges which is fine and we are pleased to see them, but if they should resume their old habits, numbers could well start to decline once again!
The decrease in the number of native birds has been blamed on modern farming methods and the use of pesticides by farmers and gardeners. I am fairly certain that the start of the decline of our native birds such as the House sparrow coincided with the instruction of farm environmental schemes which include restricting cutting hedges to every three years or less often.
The result has been a very significant deterioration in the density and quality of hedges which when not cut regularly became tall, leggy and lack bottom. This has resulted in mile upon mile of poorly maintained hedges which offer no protection from predators flying above, nor from the cold winds and rain. Also there is a distinct lack of juicy berries in these hedges in the autumn, which help to build up reserves for the long winter months.
I do wonder from where the environmentalist and naturalists learn their trade. They certainly do not appear to listen to the farming community or countrymen who have observed nature and live with it. Those who work and live on the land have listened and learned from previous generations whose lives depended upon the natural balance between man and nature.
Experts we are not but common sense and observation does have its merits.
Carola Godman Irvine