The contrast of altitude, land types and locations on grass production are extremely evident to me at the moment. Grass availability is on the Goldilocks scale:
On the main block, which is predominantly South facing slopes, silage is being fed as of today because growth has pretty much ground to a halt. One mile away, things are just right on a north facing slope and 10 miles away on slightly wetter north facing ground grass is available in abundance.
I'll feed bales instead of moving stock as it's easier to do and surplus silage is to make up for any deficits. I'll gladly take this moisture deficit over July 2012 anytime, one group of cows spent 28 days of that month indoors.
Some say I'm foolish to have as little machinery as I have on the farm as a contractor adds to variable costs. But owning and operating is a cost too, especially when youre not mechanically minded. I try to keep it simple and stick to grass and livestock that I know better.
A tractor with a loader, fertiliser spreader, roller and an old trailer makes up the machine inventory here. I don't see the need for much more. I'll have to check the hours but somewhere between 20 to 30 hours of slurry spreading was done last year. Would it make sense to have a tank sitting in the yard 364 days of the year?
I'm lucky to have an excellent positive contractor. Using a contractor gives me the use of whatever machine is needed for a job but just as important is the expertise of the operator and the time it gives me.
For example, while I was in Wales early last week, I needed to get some reseeding done on the farm. A few calls got the job done with my only tractor involvement so far being rolling. The field got a coating of dung and slurry and was disced, before getting sown with a one pass system. As it's index 4 for P and K no artificial fertiliser was spread at sowing but it will get nitrogen in a week or two.
Royal Welsh Show
I got to be an agricul-tourist with a few days at the Royal Welsh show. It was almost a spur of the moment decision but proved an enjoyable few days at an excellent purpose built venue. From passing through the countryside and talking to people in the red meat industry in Wales they too are challenged by reduction in supports and the stranglehold of tradition in agriculture.