Field work nearing an end: What a remarkable month that was.

Most of the main tillage areas had less than 25% of their normal monthly average rainfall for November and some were as low as 10%.

Those further west and northwest had more rain, but generally still less than 50%.

While land is still in good condition, it is time to park any further planting intentions.

Soil temperatures are back down to between 5.0°C and 6.5°C, which means seeds would take an eternity to emerge. That itself would not be a problem were it not for the fact that crows continue to be a really big problem in parts of the country.

As conditions get colder, crows will get hungrier and news of a single field of seeds will travel like wildfire on the bush telegraph.

If they begin to feed, they could continue to attack that field even long after it is established, pulling up plants as they go.

Slugs: These could be an additional problem for crops that might be sown now but they continue to be active in fields that are already established.

They may not cause any real harm in crops that have a lot of foliage but they could do serious harm in crops that only have two to four leaves.

Keep a close eye on all crops and watch for thin patches appearing.

A small amount of grazing here and there on individual leaves may not require treatment, but heavy grazing in a few patches will. Even if this happens it may not be necessary to treat a whole field, but do a section rather than a patch so you know what has been treated.

Nutrient plans: Given where fertiliser prices have gone, doing a fertiliser plan in advance of purchase could be a very valuable exercise this year. But first get your nutrient use in 2021 sorted and have it ready for a cross-compliance inspection.

All farmers are obliged to have a record of the N and P purchased and used for each year.

The total use on a farm must be within our legal allowances for individual crops and land uses.

Realistically, your nutrient plan should be more useful to you than to an inspector.

Your farm entitlement is the combined allowances for each field based on the crop grown and its soil test results. A soil test cannot be more than four years old – if it is out-of-date it defaults to Index 3.

Sprayers: With a few recent frosts behind us, make sure that your sprayer, and all other water-cooled engines, are protected from freezing. But before you put it away, make sure it is in full working order and ready to go again if and when necessary. Check if your sprayer certificate is valid also.

Most importantly, don’t forget the antifreeze.

When you put it in with some water, run the sprayer and circulate the antifreeze in all elements of the sprayer that contain liquid.

So you need to get the mix into the pump, into the boom section controls, the flow regulator, the section hoses and pipes etc to avoid unexpected problems.

Wherever there is liquid you need to push antifreeze.