by Claire Pethick (M H Pethick Contractors, South Hill)
Well, what a busy time of year this is. All different types of agricultural activities happening; crop preparation, harvesting. As many are aware, the type of work which is to be carried out is solely dependent on the season and the weather. I am writing this article to explain what agricultural goings-on are happening here at Church Park, when, and why.
May/June: Most of our spring crops are now drilled. The crops we grow include: conventional maize, maize under plastic, oil seed rape, wheat, and barley. These are all grown, harvested, stored, processed and mostly sold as livestock feed to local farmers.
In order for these crops to be drilled the ground has to undergo a series of preparation tasks such as ploughing, fertilising and cultivation. This is then followed by drilling, crop care and harvesting.
As our crops grow they need plenty of upkeep. Fertiliser and spraying are currently in full-swing, with all crops needing attention. This has to be done to ensure we keep on top of weeds and disease. Making sure the crops are free from these are a crucial part in ensuring the crop has the best start in life, consequently confirming a better chance at a healthier, higher yielding crop. Spraying demands can vary on the different growth stages of each crop, which differentiates between each field, so everyone can expect to see the sprayer (pictured) travelling from one place to another on a regular basis as there is such high demand for spraying this time of year.
Grass silage is also well underway. With many first cuts completed, it’s time to watch the grass grow and prepare for second cut. The grass can be cut every 6 weeks or so, some farms will cut silage 2-3 times a year. Silaging is an important part of farming life. The grass produces silage to feed livestock during winter months when the weather is poor and grazing isn’t an option. This reflects the pressure farmers feel when the silage season comes about. No farmer wants to feed their livestock poor silage. Silaging is a prime example of an agricultural activity in which the weather plays an extreme factor. This causes occasional late nights and long shifts for farm workers as the grass crop needs to be brought in before the rain comes
Hopefully this has shed some light on when and why some agricultural activities take place. I ask you all to be patient this time of year with regards to tractors and machinery, we may hold you up on the way to work, but we also have deadlines to meet.
With the crops drilled and grass silage underway, preparation for the corn harvest in July, August and September is fast approaching. Must dash, plenty to do!