As I see it on the land – March 2023

As I See it on the Land

The threatened snow, thankfully, never arrived here last month, just extreme cold. A second spell of cold weather spelt the end of stubble grazing. The phacelia       withered and died just leaving the self-sown wheat plants. Due to late planting in the autumn, after the combine had harvested the wheat crop at Ivychurch, the forage crop did not establish well over the whole 50 acres so it was always going to be a delicate crop to manage and little needed to go wrong to make it unviable. Nature dealt the cold spells, so it was out of our control. There was too little greenery left to warrant the time and cost of erecting electric fencing to graze with sheep. Let’s hope for better fortune this year, since it is a part of one of Defra’s schemes for improving the soil and preventing leaching.

My tractor driving partner, Mark, has had a new knee ‘installed’, which has kept him securely at home, away from work for two months. He has just started driving his car and this week he supervised a neighbour who applied the first dose of nitrogen to our winter wheat crop. The crop looks good and we hope it is putting down deep root systems to enable it to cope with any drought periods we might encounter as the year progresses.

It has been a quiet working time for field work, but as the soil has dried during the last couple of weeks the farmers on lighter land have been eager to make a start on cultivations. Yesterday, whilst at Aldington church, I observed the Bouldens giving the ground a stir to dry it out a little more.

Around the countryside stubbles are getting sprayed off with glysophate to kill the weeds prior to drilling. A neighbour’s large acreage of oilseed rape, near the end of my drive, has been sprayed off as a failed crop. There were insufficient plants growing to make it a viable crop, and this is in a year when pigeons have not been a problem.

My builder came back on the scene in January. I had jokingly suggested he had gone to Greenland for Xmas. In fact, he had gone to the Mediterranean for warmth! He assured me my Klargister sewage system did not allow any water other than that from the kitchen and the bathroom to get into the tank. So where did the water come from? After much debate it was decided that the ground water level had risen so much in November, when we had torrential rain for several days, that the water had come back into the tank from the dispersal pipes. The ditch levels were exceedingly high for days. Obviously, a problem to watch for in the future. Sounds a bit like Bromley Green Road water problems!!

I have kept myself occupied by trying to improve the Caravan Site, as well as doing a lot of pruning. My hands suffer in the cold, even when wearing gloves, so work sessions are often shorter.

The aconites  are out in full bloom, the snowdrops are about to burst into full flower and the primroses and daffs are following suit. Spring has sprung.

Peter Sillibourne