It was a very useful hour spent tramping across the fields looking at winter barley which had been direct drilled over last year's crop of winter wheat- the theory here is that the remnants of the previous crop lends protection and warmth to the soil (ie reducing erosion) as well as providing the worms with nutrients in the form of organic matter to gradually fold back into the soil.
He has also sown what's called a Green Manure Winter Cover Crop (a mix of tillage radish, black oats, mustard, sunflower, buckwheat and phacelia). They are increasingly being used to improve soil condition as they act as a layer of natural protection against the ravages of winter weather and then in the spring provide a nutrient-rich mulch when they're drilled through, so you shouldn't need to load the land with a heavy chemical fertiliser in order to make the soil productive. As the topsoil isn't being disturbed by ploughing, all the decomposers (fungi and bacteria) that are so vital for releasing carbon back into the soil, as well as the bacteria that fix nitrogen in it are still present and able to get on with doing their jobs as intended. Marvellous! How nice to see and hear a story of someone listening to his land and working with it to make things better.
The idea of sowing a crop to feed the land instead of harvesting it to feed people seems a novel one but it's something I am very interested in because it has huge potential benefits not only in terms of soil structure and productivity but also for our wildlife. It provides both cover and food- the mix flowers and seeds at different times, which is great news for pollinators.
|The straw from last winter's wheat crop is visible in the strips with the new crop of winter barley green all around it|
|Last winter's straw lies flat on the earth protecting it from erosion, keeping it warm and providing nutrients for the worms to work back into the soil slowly.|
|Green Manure Winter Cover Crop|
|Tillage radish- part of the green manure crop|
|Organic Matter ready for the worms to take back into the soil|
|Direct drilling machine|
|These discs make slices into the earth that the seeds then drop in to. That way great big furrows that really disturb the structure of the soil are avoided.|
|The back of the drill has strips of metal that then nudge the earth back over the seeds|
Hope you've enjoyed your Lesson In Agriculture for today. If you are one of the lovely folks who reads this outside the UK you may well be pretty familiar with these methods already- they have wide use in South America and Australia. The UK really needs to catch up. It's all good stuff in the fight against Climate Change too.
After that the day was spent mostly writing and taking Poppy out for wees every hour. She has asked each time by going to the back door and staring at it. Not bad for someone who has only been on the planet for 8 weeks. We've had no accidents at all today, and EVEN BETTER, Ted has been decidedly less grumbly with her.
Today she has learnt that leaves in the garden make great stalking and pouncing things, that she is frightened of crows cawing as they fly overhead, and that, if next door's machinery suddenly kicks noisily and unexpectedly in to life, Ted is the person she makes a bee-line for because, despite the growls, he makes her feel safe. She's also learnt that it is Great Fun to pounce on and bite feet, all the more so if they have socks on which she can grab and run backwards with while growling.
She's done her First Official Woof today, at Cleo of all people. Cleo just has to stare at her and Pop's skids to a halt and does a mad scramble backwards to get out of her way. Evidently she felt she should express her feelings about Cleo's unfriendliness, because once she'd got out of reach and had found the safety of dad's (M's) feet, she peeped out from behind his legs and did a small but distinct woof.
I dropped in to see my pals Mr and Mrs M en route to collect L from school this afternoon. They were busy making cider in their front drive (as you do). They couldn't have looked more like a pair of Old Country Yocals if they'd had dungarees on and a straw sticking out of their mouths.
They bought their cider press a few weeks back and have already had delicious apple juice from it (I was offered a sample but sadly declined as apples are not friends with my stomach) and some cider. M's last attempt at cider making was a complete disaster, darling (as Craig would put it- my wasn't Strictly good coming from The Home Of Ballroom on Sat?), so he'll be interested to sample some of theirs.
Here they are, happily squashing apples together. I couldn't help but feel that Mrs M had come off worst in the job-apportioning stakes as she was getting covered in spits of wet apple every time Mr M squished one by wielding the highly technical apple-splatting-log.
She's coming round to admire her new niece tomorrow and bringing Ted's pal Oscar, so he can have some Grown Up Dog Company and go out for a Nice Mature Walk off the lead with lots of Interesting Smells, which is what dogs like Best Of All....
|The apple press|
|Ahh, happy cider making pair|
I'll leave you with some better pics of Mrs Small (aka Poppy), who is currently busy savaging a giraffe at my feet...She has encountered Rain for the first time today, and was fascinated by it.