After the troublesome seasons earlier in the year, it was a great relief to have a much more favourable Autumn. Going down as one of the best, this Autumn provided near perfect sowing conditions for most of the UK, ourselves included.
Arrival of the Aphids
As it turns out, the season was also ideal for Aphids. Discussing this with our agronomist David Morris, it was apparent that large numbers of BYDV transmitting aphids were being reported at our local suction trap site located at Wellesbourne, as well as those we’d seen coming into the earlier sown Wheat.
The decision was made to spray the insecticide Kendo at 0.1l/ha, along with a nutritional top up of Manganese. The sprayer travelled fantastically well, as the little rain we’d received had been readily soaked up by our soils that were still in a moisture deficit even as late as November.
Autumn Open Days
Following this, we hosted our annual Autumn open days in conjunction with Mzuri and saw a flood of over 100 farmers visit our site over the course of three days. We were blessed with warmer weather compared with last year’s harsh temperatures. Each year, farmers get a chance to catch up on our past trials and future plans and have the opportunity to look around the farm and facility.
Malvern Farming Conference
In the middle of the month, myself and colleagues enjoyed a thought-provoking evening at the Malvern Farming Conference with guest speakers including the NFU President, Minette Batters, MP Neil Parish and Head of Farming for the Soil Association, Liz Bowles.
The topic of conversation was Post-Brexit Opportunities, which, on entering the discussion with many unknowns and several cabinet resignations on the same day, added to the sense of uncertainty. This being said, the speakers were excellent and were very positive on the outlook for British agriculture, focusing upon the quality and provenance of our domestic produce. Coupled with a signalling by government to focus on the health, environment and our soils, I left with a sense of optimism for how our way of farming is well positioned to meet the challenges and changes that are likely to occur going forward.
IAgrE members visit the farm
Later in the month, a very enjoyable afternoon was spent with members of the Institute of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE). There were some excellent technical questions brought forward, ranging from engineering through to agronomic. We braved the cold weather and climbed aboard our tour trailer to take a look at our trial fields and then back to the warmth of the factory where a thorough dissection of the machines took place! I really enjoyed hosting this group and their passion and depth of knowledge was remarkable.
Oilseed Rape Applications
Rounding the month off, I kept a close eye on the DOW Astrokerb postcode checker, which is designed to help optimise the timings of applications by considering forecast, soil temperature and rainfall. This seemed to take an age to give the correct conditions to spray, testament to the high soil temperatures we were benefitting from late into the year.
At the end of the month, Astrokerb was applied to our Oilseed rape to tidy up any remaining broad-leaved weeds and grasses. I combined this with the fungicide Prosaro as Phoma was easily found in our main farm variety of KWS Campus.