Deane Valley Farm Blog

The season is starting to turn

Well, the rain arrived! After very little moisture throughout the spring and summer, it was a great relief when the drought finally broke. An unfamiliar green sheen started to appear, much to the pleasure of the sheep who are at their most content in months. It is also a relief to have the time of extremely high fire risk behind us. The potential hazards posed by BBQs, cigarettes, machinery and even discarded glass bottles made for an enormously worrying time.

Harvest time now behind us, the hot weather enabled us to crack on and complete the job considerably ahead of other years. Indeed, across the country, average harvest completion was reported to be three weeks earlier. While lack of rain in the earlier stages of plant growth means yields were somewhat lower, day after day of continuous sunshine meant both grain and straw harvested well without need for the grain drier. Some grain has already been sold and the rest is stored either for use on farm or later sale. During storage, as recommended by our farm assurance scheme, we monitor grain temperature and moisture content to ensure risk of germination, pests and fungi is minimised. Deciding when to sell is always a challenge, especially with the current international situation. Continuing Ukrainian developments have obvious repercussions on the grain market, the country typically accounts for 10% of global wheat exports. While Australia is predicting record crops, China, America and Canada have all seen challenging weather conditions which impacts their output predictions. The combination of these factors will have an inevitable effect on UK food prices.

Oilseed rape emergence

As we head into late summer, the timing of the rain is much welcome for the drilling of oilseed rape, cover crops and herbal leys. The early stages of establishment are a particularly critical period for the oilseed rape. We have had sufficient rain for germination but the newly emerged seedlings are very vulnerable to pests and disease. If the crop does succumb, it is too late to plant again for harvest next year. Cover crops are an increasing part of our regenerative initiatives. This year we have planted a rye, black oat and blue tansy mix. This blend gives soil a nutritional boost by acting as a β€˜green manure’ basis. Such species add organic material to the soil, a key Deane Farm objective. As mentioned in last month’s blog post, this is one of our main motivations for investing in a low inversion drill. Cover crops also offer both financial and further environmental benefits through increasing yield in the following crop, reducing the risk of nutrient leaching, preventing soil erosion by providing protection from wind/water during high risk periods, helping with weed control in the following crop and vigorous root growth opening soils to improve structure. Establishment of the herbal leys also link into this approach by providing similar benefits as well as an additional feed source for the Deane Farm flock, which also has the potential to boost livestock health through a greater micronutrient content than other conventional grazing sources.

Cover crop components

Sausages! We now have good stocks available so please get in touch if you fancy trying our delicious pasture reared produce. As the evenings start to draw in and we begin to feel a slight chill in the air, Deane Valley sausages are just the thing! It’s time to start thinking about bangers and mash with onion gravy, toad in the hole and sausage casseroles. These comforting dishes will be even better with our high welfare, pasture reared sausages and you know for certain that the food miles don’t get any lower!

Deane Valley sausages
Deane Valley sausages
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