Farm Diary

THIS is more like it! Spring is back, the chickens have started laying and all the daffodils suddenly blossomed last week. The birds are making such a racket in the early morning, but over at Tillington, the crows are driving Gwenan mad with their noise and activity. The grass is on the move, the ground is drying up and I am gearing up for a very busy time indeed; for all concerned.

If we keep one tractor full time on sub-soiling, ploughing and cultivations, we will only just get all the maize ground ready in time for the earliest possible drilling date, which is my objective. We will of course have two tractors when it is possible, but there is fertilizer to spread, muck to haul and dirty water to spread.

We have teams of men injecting sludge and spreading dried sludge-cake on our maize ground where we have no farm yard manure available. We are also hauling 'green' compost from a recycling operation in Basingstoke over to Ripley, as the access to our maize ground there is not suitable for the sludge injecting gang, and the land is surrounded by houses.

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I hope that this compost will add some much needed organic matter as well as nutrients to the soil. I went for this option rather than growing the maize with chemical fertilizer, although it's no cheaper, and the paperwork and red tape with the Environment Agency has to be seen to be believed.

On the farm, the 'anaerobic digester' is coming on well, and the second concrete tower will be finished by the time you read this, and the Yorkshire lads will be on their way to the next job. The German engineers are on site, they have started lagging the first tank and we are filling in around it with soil, burying that expensive 'sacrificial' concrete road around it as we go.

For full feature see West Sussex Gazette March 18