During the week starting on the 4th March the BBC Radio 4 program ‘Farming Today’ is covering soil. It’s a fascinating topic and one we are very proud to have at the heart of our farming strategy at Overbury.
There is so much public awareness of the perceived issues with Glyphostate at the moment even though 3300 studies have shown it to be a very benign chemical when used correctly in the field. With any potential restriction on its use being enforced on us I wanted to have a look at an alternative method of killing a cover crop before we plant our harvestable, or cash crop, into the field. To me a cover crop can only enhance the soil and the wider environment. It shields the soil from rain, reducing runoff and erosion; it feeds the soil biology with carbohydrates and encourages the development of below ground microbial populations; provides winter feed for our sheep; increases soil organic matter to hold more nutrients and water - it’s a no brainier for the farm and the wider environment.
For the last 3 years we have been experimenting with companion crops in our oilseed rape fields, that is growing more than one species of plant together. The companions are mainly based around legumes to try and increase the amount of atmospheric nitrogen that we can capture and then make available to our farming system, and why wouldn’t we? The atmosphere is 76% nitrogen, yet our cereal and brassica plants cannot use any of it. But legumes can-and they do it very quickly.
We are finally approaching the end of Harvest 2017.
We had been waiting for some more sunshine and so, between the showers, we have managed to harvest all the Linseed. The harvested seeds should hopefully be used by other farmers next spring to plant in their fields.
Middle Barn Grain store is progressing well and we are on schedule to get it completed before harvest which is a huge relief. All of the steel work is now erected and most of the roof is on. Currently the machinery installers are building the grain drier itself and installing some of the cat walk, conveyors and elevators that will carry the grain through the plant and safely into store.
This week Farm workers Derek, Graham and Gordon, (with a little help from Martyn, our Forester) have been working on a co-funded project with the Environment Agency and The Flow Partnership to ‘Slow the Flow’. In simple terms this involves making little dams in streams, made of natural timber materials, located on site. The timber is placed at crisscross angles across the stream and pinned securely in place into the stream bed with iron bars.