Saturday 13th March Notes from the Cart Track
The recent spell of dry, calmer weather has allowed us to make a start on some of the spring land work. With quite a heavy workload ahead and some fairly soggy soil to deal with, it is a relief to be able to get going. The gales, hail and rain have stopped us again but the promise of more settled weather, to celebrate St. Patrick next week, gives cause for optimism.
We managed to spray the cover crops with glyphosate to start the decaying process on 23rd February. We are advised to leave these fields for 5 weeks before drilling into the untouched soils to reduce the quantity of plant material the drill has to cut through and also to apply a modest dose of liquid nitrogen and sulphur fertiliser to get the barley growing as quickly as possible. We have dug some trial patches with a spade to check on the state of the soil these cover crops have achieved and we are fairly optimistic. The thick growth of rye, common vetch and phacelia has left the soil very friable with no solid clods near the surface and a multitude of worms and roots in the top 30cm. the soil is quite moist but should dry with warmer dry weather as the green material dries off. We have fitted a different coulter arrangement to the Claydon Drill which has discs to cut through the plant material and sprung tines to sow the seed. A small amount of frustration occurred over this. Defra are keen to promote direct drilling and our use of cover and catching cropping is in their view desirable. This system of crop establishment is “greener” than the more traditional system of ploughing, power harrow and drill. Grants are available for the purchase of new machinery to achieve this but not for retro fitting direct drilling coulters to existing machines. So, if we invested £50,000 in a new version of our drill, we would get a sizable grant but spending £9000 on a conversion we get nothing!!
All the rape and wheat have had their first application of Nitrogen and Sulphur. Sam was very concerned at the muddy state of the tramlines through the crops, but the majority of the fields are bearable, and I suspect tramlines will remain muddy for quite a while this year.
We installed our new security gate last week and we are now thinking of becoming Broughton Scrubs! We have left a good wide pathway round the side for pushchairs, dogs, bicycles and walkers and would stress that footpath users are very welcome as before. The gate will be open for school parking at the beginning and end of the school day. Anyone that has been in the habit of leaving the car while they run or walk the dog may need one of us to let them out. It is unfortunate that criminal behaviour by the few impacts on all our lives in so many ways.