Soil analysis is essential this year | South East Farmer

Soil analysis is essential this year

Writers Posted 10/11/21
A large proportion of farmers may take a P and K holiday.

The drilling is complete for 2021, the maize is all clamped, and while the weather is changing daily, a few farmers must be contemplating whether or not to drill any spring crops in 2022. The cost of nitrogen is astronomical (congratulations to all who purchased amounts in advance); it would appear that short supply, rising gas prices and panic buying have led to a rapid increase in price.

The average spend on fertiliser in this season could be well be more than double the price for the same amount this past season. Soil analysis is essential this year, as is a possible recalculation of fertiliser requirements based on the results. A large proportion of farmers may take a P and K holiday, especially those who have spread high applications of slurry.

Slurry spreading in the spring will be carried out with a trailing shoe to increase nutrient uptake in the soil. Digestate will be in demand as a possible alternative. With BPS diminishing, the cost of the end product must surely rise. The rising cost of all associated products must be taken into consideration.

In the past two weeks two large dairy herds were dispersed at their local auction marts. One had to make a hasty decision to sell as the majority of staff left to go back to their own countries; the other had reached the end of his tether and decided he couldn’t make ends meet, enough was enough and he sold his cows before he could change his mind.

Where does that leave the rest of the farming community? If we lose many more farmers we could be in short supply of home produced food. The calf price seems to have increased again. A dairy X bred calf at eight weeks old is selling for over £400! I struggle to see where a margin can be made on selling the bullock as fat in 14 months’ time. Blood, sweat and toil go into our lives 365 days a year for small reward. Farming is relentless, but so many farmers continue because it is all they have ever known.

Away from the farm it was a roller coaster of a month. Zara and I had an amazing week in sunny (with rather a lot of rain) Devon competing at her first three-day event with the additional roads and tracks endurance phase. Torrential rain and sunshine filled the week. A lovely dressage, a clear cross country with roads and tracks and a nail-biting finish with the show jumping and a superb round by Zara gave her the win – her biggest to date and a qualification for Badminton Grassroots 2022.

She was the youngest competitor, aged 12, and one of 147 entries. Can you tell I am a very proud mummy? The horses are now having a well-deserved holiday. As I write we have just returned to school after two weeks of half term. A whirlwind, non-stop two weeks mainly farming and thoroughly enjoyed by us all. Ted is about as enthusiastic as a turkey waiting for Christmas going back to school. Let’s hope the Christmas holidays are just around the corner.

Speaking to a farmer in Devon while we were competing, I was asking him about his farm. We even had a cup of tea. He had over 600 suckler cows and approximately 2,000 sheep. This year his grass yield was off the scale. “Three cuts we had; never in my life have we had three cuts of grass,” he said (these are the small things we take for granted in the South East).

He also inferred that he wouldn’t be applying any fertiliser next year unless the price came down. He has enough silage to see him through most of next year, so will just take a cut later in the year. I believe many farmers across the country will be following his example.

With the darker evening upon us and Fireworks Night around the corner, we shall look out of our window and hope to see a display. Until next time, stay safe and well.


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