The farming column with Sam Walton

One of early Fowler Track Marshall crawlers dragging up red clover stubble.
One of early Fowler Track Marshall crawlers dragging up red clover stubble.

February Fill Dyke certainly lived up to it’s name this year and well into March too.

That has been the case now for a number of years but it wasn’t always this way.

Baling red clover in the late 1950s.

Baling red clover in the late 1950s.

When I came here in 1973, I had permission to enter in the February, rather than the traditional change over of 5th April.

I can distinctly remember in that year how dry and warm February was and I had everything sown by 12th February.

I am struggling to recall if we ever did that again since then.

I know I mentioned last week about the changing climate and if things carry on as they are doing will we be able to grow three crops in two years?

That would cause a few problems.

I am not a soil scientist but I do wonder when we have torrential rain frequently, just how much fertiliser is leached out of the soil?

Perhaps more than we care to imagine and of course a lot will depend on soil types.

When I was nobbut a lad, we didn’t have some of the crops we have today, such as maize and oilseed rape, myscanthus, broccoli and other exotic vegetables.

We had a lot more root crops for sheep to graze, and red clover for making hay, tares and vetches.

It was a very balanced way of farming, akin to the Norfolk four course rotation.

Not many winter sown crops were used because of the difficulty of breaking down the soil, which was usually left for the frost which we no longer have, to breakdown for easy sowing in the spring.

Nowadays we have massive machinery which are able to pulverise any kind of soil, which has led to winter cropping.

We just have to hope that whatever the climate throws at us in the future, whatever systems we have available will cope with whatever we are faced with.