September on the Farm (2023)

Vintage Ploughing Match in Sulgrave 2016

Richard Fonge writes:

The wonderful sunny weather of early September has allowed this years harvest to be completed in our area. With the sun following the rains of August, everything is growing as you will be aware in the regularity of the lawn mowing.

Oil seed rape has been planted in the field by Park lane, and has germinated and established itself. It is vital that oil seed rape has established itself by mid September as it can be attacked by the flea beetle, and of course pigeons later in the winter.

On the Stuchbury footpath can be seen a tremendous plant of wild white clover. How has this come about? When the grass was sown a few years back, it was a perennial ryegrass dominant mixture of grasses with wild white clover. Clover can produce its own nitrogen through its root nodules, so if you manage the grass by putting only a small amount of artificial nitrogen fertiliser on to stimulate growth in the spring and graze tightly with stock, (in this case sheep,) the clover will flourish as can been seen here.

The top half of this field had a crop of wheat this year which also benefited from residual nitrogen left by the previous crop of beans. Another legume. A rotation of cropping is vital for plant health, with each crop complimentary to the other.

 You will see less ploughing of the land in the future as direct drilling and minimal cultivation systems become the norm. These systems reduce carbon footprints and fuel consumption. The plough still has a part to play in the cultivation of the land albeit to a lesser degree. However the skill of ploughing is kept alive by vintage machinery clubs and others. We owe them a great debt in that they restore old tractors and use them in the many competitive ploughing matches they hold during the year. By doing so they keep alive the past and remind us of how far we have come in machinery development over the last seventy years.

This completes six years of monthly notes, describing what is happening in the countryside surrounding our lovely village of Sulgrave. We are just so fortunate to live in what is to me a great community.

Richard Fonge


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