Biog: Chris Hewis manages a 280 ha mixed farm in Lincolnshire, growing winter wheat, winter and spring barley and winter oilseed rape. 40 ha of grass supports a suckler beef herd of approximately 65 continental cross cattle, producing stores. He was not born into farming, but was always very interested. “I remember visiting Riseholme College as a 9 year old primary school pupil and thinking how I would love to study there. Nine years later I did exactly that. A three year sandwich course turned out to be a fantastic experience of living student life to the full and also got me the letters NDA to put after my name. I have been in this job since leaving college 27 years ago. I’ve been married to Katy for 22 years and have a daughter and two sons. I follow Grimsby Town Football Club, have a HGV licence, am BASIS and FACTS qualified and have recently decided to improve my fitness level by joining a running club. I’m involved with the local Rural Training Group and with #clubhectare as one of the original co-founders.
Title: Feed varieties favoured – wheat and barley
Year on year cropping plans don’t vary greatly as I stick to the same 5 year rotation (OSR, winter wheat, winter wheat, spring barley, winter barley) for the whole farm. Winter barley is grown for a number of reasons – being early to harvest it not only spreads workload, but also ensures that there is no delay in getting oilseed rape drilled. The straw is used for the cattle. I have grown malting varieties in the past but now stick to feed varieties due to the yield benefit and poor premiums from malting markets in the past. Cassia will be planted again this autumn following another successful harvest with it.
Oilseed rape is a crucial part of the rotation due to the benefit of having different chemistry available for grass weeds. I choose to grow hybrid varieties because of their consistently good performance. This year I have planted DK Exalte, Popular and for the first time, a Clearfield variety Imperial, due to a serious and increasing problem with cranesbill in one field.
Winter wheat will be split between three varieties this year. It will all be Group 4 feed varieties because the close proximity of the export facilities only three miles away. Dickens will be the main variety in the 1st wheat slot as it has performed very well here this year. It has been very clean all season, has yielded exceptionally well and has threshed well to produce a good clean sample. I will be trying some Reflection due to its high yield potential and high specific weight.
The choice for 2nd wheat will be Evolution this year, meaning the end of an era for JB Diego which has been grown for quite a few years now. Evolution has good disease ratings, has performed very well in a small but sensible sized plot and seems to tick all the boxes for a second wheat.
Spring barley is grown to spread workload and to aid blackgrass control. The malting variety, Propino, has been grown for the first time this year and has produced exceptional results, so will be chosen again for spring 2016.
Cultivations policy varies across the farm as the soil type varies widely. In one case there are four different soil types in a three hectare field. Generally the policy is to plough rotationally so mainly for spring barley and for winter barley. OSR is drilled conventionally following disc harrowing and subsoiling where necessary. Rape stubbles are left for a couple of weeks after harvest to allow any volunteer rape and some other weeds to grow. These are then sprayed with glyphosate, the tramlines subsoiled, and shallow disced. If any more weeds grow, including blackgrass, the glyphosate is repeated and the discing is repeated to a greater depth, pre-drilling. A power harrow drill combination is used for all crops.
The farmed area is unlikely to change in the near future, but the cropped area is likely to increase slightly due to the areas of Environmental stewardship land being brought back in to arable production. The old ELS scheme brought about some great improvements to the wildlife and environment but the new replacement scheme doesn’t seem to add up.
If you’re considering adopting more efficient cultivation techniques or looking at ways to improve the health of your soils to reduce your crop establishment costs, attending our new Crop Establishment Seminar, sponsored by Horsch, will pay dividends.
In addition to the free advice on offer at this topical, technical and practical seminar, there will be numerous exhibitors you can talk to regarding your cultivation and soil care strategy. This new and important area of CropTec is designed to help you boost yields further and reduce those all important unit costs of production
To encourage knowledge exchange among the British farming community further, this year’s event is FREE for farmers to attend. You MUST pre-register online to ensure you receive your free place.
General pre-registered admission: £12, all visitors will charged £15 on the gate on the day of the event.