Land has become untravellable in the past fortnight for Alistair. He says that while the farm received just 31mm of rain in February, they have received 45mm in the past two weeks. Despite this, Alistair says it has been a good winter overall.

Alistair has 60ac of KWS Tardis seed-grade winter barley, which is in great condition.

He is also growing a 10 variety mix for feed. This consists of two-row, six-row and hybrid varieties. This has been grazed down a lot by geese. Alistair hopes to be able to use less fungicide on this crop as different varieties will be susceptible to different diseases.

Alistair applying slurry to his winter barley using a 12m dribble bar on 36m tramlines. \ Andrew Robinson

Alistair’s KWS Tayo winter rye is looking good, except for some thin patches where water pooled in his fields.

The rye and barley have both got 62kg/ha of liquid nitrogen. A total of 3,000 gallons of slurry from his dairy farm were applied to these crops before the weather broke. Slurry pro bugs (0.5l/ha) and humic acid (2kg/ha) were added to the slurry before spreading.

Graham winter wheat was sowed late on 17 November after potatoes. The crop was very thin coming out of winter, at 50 plants/m2. However, it is beginning to tiller, and has had 45kg/ha of liquid nitrogen.

Alistair sowed his Ambassador winter oilseed rape with companion crops of buckwheat, sunflowers, vetch, and spring beans. He remarks that in a small section where no beans were included, no oilseed rape has grown.

The crop was grazed with lambs for six weeks from the end of October. The companion crops were killed with Astrokerb (1.25l/ha) in January. It has also received 94kg/ha of liquid N.

Once weather allows, he plans to apply another 62kg liquid N/ha to his barley, 2,000 gallons of slurry to his winter wheat, and perhaps fungicides. Oilseed rape will receive metconazole for growth regulation and branching.

There has been near-consistent rain at Kildalton College over the past two weeks. KWS Tardis winter barley received 200kg/ha SulCAN on 2 March, as well as 0-10-20 to complete P and K requirements.

The crop also had farmyard manure applied before ploughing. The barley had started to yellow but is looking very good since the nitrogen was applied. This received Flight (4l/ha) in early December.

There are still some cleavers, volunteer beans and groundsel to clean up. Wild oats will also need to be controlled. There is some Septoria nodorum in the crop.

The Graham winter wheat is currently looking excellent, with 850 shoots/m2 in the middle of February. It has had a similar management programme to the winter barley so far.

Husky winter oats were sowed late on 18 November into poor conditions. A high seed rate of 250kg/ha was used, which has left 200 plants/m2 currently after crow damage and waterlogging hampered the crop.

The Aurelia oilseed rape received Katamaran Turbo (2.5l/ha) post-emergence, and a follow-up of Belkar (0.25l/ha) in October.

Falcon (1l/ha) was applied to control grassweeds, especially annual meadow grass. It received Prosaro (0.8l/ha) on 1 December, and Proline (0.5l/ha) and Juventus (0.8l/ha) on 8 February due to light leaf spot in the crop. Most of the crop has a green area index (GAI) of 2.5, but pigeons have grazed one field down to 0.8. This field has received 60kg N, and both crops will receive more nitrogen soon, with the first flowers starting to emerge in the crop. Spring beans (Lynx, 226kg/ha), spring wheat (WPB Duncan, 185kg/ha) and spring oats (Husky, 144kg/ha) were sowed in the first week of March in good conditions.

The beans have not received a pre-emerge herbicide yet, but Damien still plans to apply one before the beans emerge.

Eamonn completed spring planting before the weather broke, and water is now lying in some fields.

His only spring crop is spring oats (WPB Isabel). Crows and waterlogging are currently plaguing the crop, and only time will tell how the oats perform.

Some of these oats were planted on headlands of winter oats crops which didn’t establish.

Any winter oats that did establish look good. Winter oats and winter wheat received 375kg/ha of 10-7-25.

All winter wheat (KWS Dawsum, Champion, and Graham) was planted into chopped straw. Eamonn is trying to build soil P and K indices, so he is not reducing rates too much, especially after cutting rates last year.

A total of 300ac of winter barley (KWS Tardis and Belfry) received a herbicide (Tower) in December or February, depending on trafficability.

While control was generally excellent, the February application did not control all annual meadow grass. The barley received 500kg/ha of 10-7-25, and now totals 88kg N/ha after a liquid nitrogen (24% N, 4% S) application at the end of February.

Some of the barley had gone backwards before this application, and there is some rhynchosporium, net blotch, and mildew in the crop.

One field of winter oilseed rape has been affected by clubroot and has been resown with spring oats.

Eamonn keeps a five-year rotation between brassicas, and there have been no cover crops grown.

Spring oats being sown on Eamonn Cogan’s farm.

There is some charlock, but Eamonn cannot confirm the cause of the clubroot. He will have to think about the long-term future of this field. Apart from this and some pigeon grazing, the oilseed rape is progressing well, with flower buds visible.

It has received 50kg liquid N/ha, and another 75kg liquid N/ha will be applied shortly. DK Expansion received Trinity (0.5l/ha) due to light leaf spot in the crop, while Aurelia, Acacia, and DK Exstar will receive a fungicide soon.