Duncan Farrington: A little more fertiliser needed!

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Thanks to all of you who came along to Open Farm Sunday last month.

We had more than 500 people visit Bottom Farm to get taste of life on a modern family farm.

Many people were very complimentary of the day and all the different experiences they enjoyed, a day that was a real team effort with nearly 40 family, friends and neighbours volunteering their time helping make the day such a great success.

This year we will start harvesting the rapeseed around July 18, a full week earlier than our average start date and nearly two weeks earlier than last year.

Thanks to the warm season we have had, with rain at the right time and plenty of sunshine to match, the crops have grown and matured well. Let’s just hope the favourable weather keeps up over the next couple of months to really make 2014 a great year for crops, following the disastrous year of 2013.

There is a theory that the weather patterns around the few days of the change of each season dictates the weather for the next coming season.

This year, for the summer solstice on June 21, the weather was wonderful, so if you believe the theory we are in for a good summer.

Some of the wheat we grow is destined to make flour for bread in Sainsbury’s.

To make good quality bread, the flour requires a high protein quality.

Protein quality in the grains of wheat is affected by the weather and the amount of nitrogen available to the crop.

I am involved in a trial to predict the eventual flour quality, from the crop growing in the field.

By doing this I can assess whether or not the crop needs extra nitrogen fertiliser to ensure the required protein quality.

I have been around our fields with a pair of secateurs in hand, cutting quadrant samples of wheat to send off to a laboratory, where it is analysed to predict the final protein quality.

I find this approach to agriculture and the careful use of valuable resources fascinating, as well as being a great opportunity for me to learn and fine-tune our best practices.

The results have shown with a degree of certainty that we need to apply a little more fertiliser this year to ensure the final quality of bread in your local supermarket is top quality.