Jack Forster - 31 March 2011
The sun is out a bit more at the minute, so hopefully the grass will be growing too, so its time to get some field work done. The main things we do too our pasture is roll it, harrow it, manure it, subsoil (if it needs it) and topping the thistles.
At this time of year we try and get some manure spread as soon as it is dry enough to travel on the land to avoid it coming up in the haylage and silage later in the year. It’s not worth putting it on too early before the grass is growing though as the nitrogen in the muck will be lost into the atmosphere and wasted. The manure has usually been sat in the midden for a few months so its well rotted and perfect for the grass. We try and spread it quite thinly so that it breaks down quicker on the field, and we will tend to harrow it after a week or so if we have time to spread it around and break it up further.
I always like doing a bit of rolling at this time of year because the ground is just dry enough to travel on without making a mess, but moist enough that you feel like you are doing something to the ground! If it gets too dry you feel like you are wasting your time. It may seem odd to roll (and compact) the fields after my last blog about preventing compaction, but by rolling the ground it flattens out the divets made by the cattles hooves when it is wet. We find this helps the grass to grow more evenly and also makes it better for driving on as it isn’t as bumpy!
It’s a good time to harrow too. Harrowing just rips up the old dead grass and, slightly disturbs the surface of the soil and helps to get the grass growing we find. It is another job that at the time it feels like you are spending hours doing something that has no returns, but when the grass is nice and thick and lush around May and June you know it has been worthwhile! Again, the more grass, the more bales we have for selling. Its good for spreading around and breaking up any big lumps of manure after spreading.
Hopefully our aerator will arrive this weekend so will get to have a play with that and see if it makes a difference
Jack is a professional rugby player with Sale Sharks, but also has an active role in his family's farm in St Helens. The family are fourth generation farmers and and own two Soil Association licensed organic farms. All the cattle and sheep that are reared on the farm are butchered through the on farm butchery, and sold to local people through the farm shop, local deliveries and local farmers' markets. Jack is a keen supporter of British farming and wants to encourage more people to 'buy local and think organic'. He studied agriculture at Hartpury College and aims to go back into farming when he retires from rugby.