March is more than just a new month. We have the anticipation of Spring being just around the corner. Snowdrops are appearing in the hedgerows, the faint call of new born lambs can be heard and green shoots can be seen sprouting. There is excitement in the air!
For us here at Newhay, March also sees activity on the farm heighten in the build up to Harvest.
Through the Winter months we take shelter in the warmth of the office, planning, reviewing, researching and doing all the ground work for growing the best crops going forward over the next year, two, three and beyond. Timothy Hay is a crop that is sown only every 4 years, it’s not an annual crop like barley or wheat. This is why we have only the best equipment, knowledge and experience at Newhay, including the sheep that we have grazing the pastures down ready for Spring. It’s all team work!
We work over 323 acres of land, 45 acres of this is sown with a crop of Garden Peas. This is done on a field rotation basis, at the end of the Timothy cycle of 4 years. The peas are then sown for 1 year as they provide a great, natural source of Nitrogen which is fantastic for the soil, in preparation for the new Timothy that will follow the next year.
This week we’ve been lucky enough to interview our Farm Manager, David Hugill, to get an insight into what’s going on on the farm this month.
In March, the preparation begins. David and his team will do regular field walks to check for any debris. David explains, “general litter and branches are removed. Our checks are vigorous and done regularly before and during Harvest to reduce foreign bodies in the crop.”
New sowings are rolled and the grass is harrowed to remove any moss and dead grass. This then helps to rejuvenate the existing pastures and encourage good growth. Next is the first application of fertiliser. This varies from field to field, dependant on the soil type and the needs of the crop. This year, we are rolling out a detailed Leaf Analysis programme across the acreage which will be done every two weeks for the 36 weeks of growing and harvesting. “This gives us a detailed breakdown of what is in the plant along with what it is lacking and in what area, whether it be head, leaf or stem. This allows me to make a prescriptive fertilisation plan of Phosphate, Potash and Nitrogen, not only for each field but this is also segmented down into specific areas of the field. The detail we can drill down to is fantastic and we’re excited to see the results,” says David.
So, we hope you’ve got a Spring in your step after reading this! We sure have on the farm and look forward to bringing you the next instalment of a month in the life of Newhay! Happy March everyone!