I would describe 2020 harvest as ‘one to forget’.
I’m sure farmers up and down the country will agree that conditions and results this year were less than ideal. But what else should we expect from a year that, generally, will be remembered for all the wrong reasons?
We had a good start to harvest but then the rain arrived and the last part seemed to drag on forever.
I’m afraid the figures don’t make for attractive reading. Altogether, 2020 was a real mixed bag.
Our oilseed rape was well below where it should be, with an average of 1.9t/ha. We will persevere this year, but on slightly less land. We’ve got 66ha planted and it looks good so far, but of course it is now in the lap of the gods.
We had four different varieties of wheat and the quality was generally good, with some above average.
The spring barley was probably our best success story with an above average yield of 7t/ha which is a good result for us. We had high hopes for it all the way through and it did eventually deliver.
Canary seed was a first for us this year. The yield was probably a bit below what we expected but we will stick with it for now and have another go.
Spring beans didn’t perform particularly well again and although my patience is wearing a bit thin we’ve got some planned for next year.
We’ve also planted a bit of winter linseed which is new for us. Generally speaking, we’re dipping our toe in the water with a few different crops and seeing what happens.
This harvest demonstrated exactly why it’s so important to be resilient and ready. We’re excited to be part of this Corteva and LEAF programme as we endeavour to get the most out of our land in an environmentally sensitive way.
With that in mind, we’ve made a start on our agroforestry project. We have marked out the field in to 30m alleys and we’re ready to plant the grass in the spring.
Once that is established we will look to plant the trees in 18 months’ time.
The field is located near to the main farm so that we can easily show visitors around. It is not a particularly poor performing area, but I must admit we partially chose it because it is away from the road and therefore hidden in case it goes wrong!
However, I remain optimistic that it will prove a good decision that will benefit both our soil and our business.
Sparsholt College graduate Andy has been the manager at Newhouse Farm for 10 years.
The 800ha estate has 600ha put to arable cropping which has been min-till cultivated for two decades.
Andy uses variable rate technology for fertiliser, nitrogen and seed with parts of the farm set aside for trials to test new techniques in crop management.
Elsewhere, there is 70ha of woodland, a small sheep flock and a pig herd.