We don’t have a lot of arable land, therefore we have always used a contractor to harvest our crops. It wouldn’t make sense to fork out for an expensive combine harvester that is used on only a handful of occasions each year to harvest relatively small amounts of wheat, barley and beans.
But as time goes by, we find we are increasingly using contractors for cultivation jobs prior to and after harvest that my husband once used to do himself. Things like ploughing, muck spreading, drilling the new seed corn and fertilising.
There are many reasons for this, and one is the extraordinary ability of new machinery to do several operations at once - and to do them very much quicker than our older machinery could manage. Thus, things like tines, discs and rollers can all be on the same machine, and perform these tasks in one pass because the new tractors are strong enough to pull them. This not only saves time but reduces the wheel marks over soft soil.
We’ve recently had the contractors in doing a multitude of jobs to prepare our arable land for the forthcoming season and they managed to do in a few days what would have taken my husband weeks. Crop establishment is everything and this year, so far, things are looking good.
If you are interested in seeing what happens with an arable field over the course of a year, and the work involved in preparing the crop for harvest, take a look at the video I have placed on this page.