A Year in Blogs – April

April Blog

Spring has sprung, but only just. The cold nights have held things back from exploding into life and as we head towards the end of April the hedges are only half way out.  But it is great to see the flauna and fauna wake up and emerge from its winter slumber.

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One of the many wet spots we found whilst drilling, unfortunately this one got us stuck.

Arable –  it took 6 weeks to complete what should have taken 1 week but last Friday we finished the spring drilling and everything has now chitted and on the way to emerging.  A combination of low soil temperatures and water logged fields meant we had to pick and choose which field to drill first to allow the others to dry out.  We have chosen to drill spring barley for malting and spring beans for human consumption, which gives us some flexibilty when it comes to combining as it helps to spread the harvest from late July (Oilseed Rape) to mid September (Spring Beans) as well as helping with our Blackgrass control.

Livestock – we are nearing the end of calving with only two left to go and 16 calved. With the slow start to spring we haven’t turned many cattle out with only the yearlings going out to grass, we hope to turn the cows out at the end of this week or first week in May.  At the end of March we had a little road trip to Derbyshire, Buxton to pick up two Belted Galloway heifers and fulfill a life long wish of Claire’s to own some pedigree Belties.

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Betty and Aggy

Hay & Haylage – deliveries have started to slow down over the course of April as our customers start to turn their horses out to grass, but many are still bringing them in at night, which has meant we are still busier that usual for this time of year.

To-do List – since the ground has been so wet, we haven’t been able to do any grass harrowing or flat rolling on the hay meadows so this is still on the list, as well as putting a bit of fertiliser on the grass to promote growth and ensure better quality in our hay.  On the arable front we need to wash down all the kit that was used to drill the spring crops and service them before the summer – drill, tractor’s, press, rolls and tow chain!?  It is also the time of year when the sprayer is used the most in order to keep the crops protected from pest and disease’s as they grow rapidly through their growth stages.  At the moment we need to spray the spring beans to protect them from Bean Weevil which is an insect that eats the leaves and causes reduced yield.

A Year in Blogs – March

March Blog

Over the last few weeks we seemed to have had all four seasons rolled into one week at Walgrave, Northants, it will be dry and cold on the Monday/Tuesday, rain heavily on the Wednesday and Thursday with strong winds on the Friday and then mild and dry at the weekend turning cold.  But things are slowly drying up and their is a sense of feeling around the farm that spring is just around the corner.

Arable – Even though the ground is still too wet to cultivate, their has been enough of a dry spell to enabled us to get onto the fields with the sprayer.  We have switched this year from granular fertiliser to liquid, which is applied with our 3,000 litre Knight 24 metre sprayer to give better accuracy in application and no pesky fertiliser bags which often used to back-log into a mountain  of empty bags in the farmyard before disposing them through our Viridor farm waste bin.  We have fertilised most of our winter crops with about 80 Ha left to do and also sprayed all of our Oilseed Rape for ‘light leaf spot’ which is a disease that effects the leaves causing white spots to appear resulting in a reduction in its yield potential.


Two 50,000 Litre liquid fertiliser tanks being delivered


One tank up, the second to go…

Livestock – as predicted in last months blog, it was Marmite that calved first on the 16th Feb with 828 having a good reason in being slightly later as she had twins on the 2nd March.  We haven’t yet had ‘The Scanning Lady’ out yet, but we are fairly sure the two heifers aren’t in calf so we are going to pull them out of the main shed and put them in with some two year old’s before trying again with the bull in the spring. In total we have had 12 calves so far, with a good split of five bull calves and seven heifers (boys & girls), the heifers will be kept back for breading either for our own herd or sold at market as breading stock.

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‘Mumma cow’ and her twins

Hay & Haylage – with the continued wet weather, we have been kept busy with deliveries to our loyal customers over the last month and have done deliveries in every county around Northampton.  We have also acquired some new customers outside of the traditional equine market, such as Santa Pod race track who ordered 250 wrapped straw bales for an off-road rage buggy circuit at the end of February and a local gardener who has bought some small bales of straw to make raised beds for vegetables.

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250 wrapped straw bales ready for delivery to Santa Pod

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To-do List – when the ground dry’s up again we will be out spraying the spring ground off using Glyphosate to create a stale seedbed ready for planting at the end of March, this is important as it kills off any weeds that have grown over the winter and leaves a clean seed-bed for the newly planted crop to grow.  We will also start to think about grass and chain harrowing the grass fields in preparation for the spring, this helps promote fresh growth and more productive grass growth for our hay and grazing land.

A Year in Blogs – February

February Blog

The weather at the end of January was very much like it began, the storms kept rolling in on a weekly basis which kept the water table nice and high on the farm.  Only the ducks seemed to appreciate this and the 40 newly planted Cricket Bat Willows.

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1st year Cricket Bat willows in late Spring

Arable – despite the wet and windy conditions the winter oilseed rape and winter wheat kept on growing on the back of unseasonably warm weather.  This is very unusual for this time of year and it is beginning to have a negative effect on the crops health with a high disease pressure present in both crops.  In the Wheat the main problem is Yellow Rust, which if left unchecked can kill the crop and will mean an early pass with the sprayer to control the disease.  The OSR is suffering from Foma and also cabbage stem flee beetle, with the latter being extremely worrying as their is little we can do following the retraction of Neonicotinoids insecticides by the EU due to concerns over its effect on Bee’s.

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Livestock – well we are still waiting on the other two heifers to calve before the main herd, we will probably get ‘The Scanning Lady’ to come in to check that they are in calf for peace of mind.  The main herd (15 cows) are getting very close and it will be around mid-Feb by the time the first start to calve, it is usually ‘marmite’ or 828 ‘muma cow’ that calves first.  On a rare frosty morning we were able to muck out the main cattle shed, starting at 5 am we had the shed cleaned and re-bedded by lunchtime.  Their is still one other cattle shed that needs ‘mucking out’ on the next dry or frosty morning.

Pack of !0 Small Seed Haylage

Pack of 10 Small Seed Haylage before Wrapping

Hay & Haylage – it has been another busy month of deliveries of all types of produce hay, straw and haylage, with deliveries going out most days to our regular customers in Northampton, Bedford and Leicestershire.  Despite the warmer weather, the saturated paddocks have meant many horses have been kept in over night and sometimes during the day.  As well as the equine market we often take orders for small straw for weddings and parties during the summer, with one order coming in last week.

To-do List -we still have one cattle shed that needs mucking out before they jump out, but will have to wait for a dry or frosty day.  We also have a 360 digger coming in a weeks time to start cleaning out our field ditches to help the flow of water and also the hedges need finishing before the March cut off point under Cross Compliance rules to safeguard nesting birds.

A Year in Blogs – January

January Blog

As it’s the start of 2016, we thought we would spend a bit of time each month to talk about what we are up to and plan to do over the coming weeks.

What better way to start than on the 1st January.

Arable – Well the first thing to note is that it’s wet! Luckily we haven’t suffered any significant flooding but any plans to work on the fields went out the window a long time ago, which means hedge cutting and ditch cleaning is on hold for a few more weeks unless we get some frosts. But we have a cut off point of the 29th Feb whereby we can’t cut any hedges in order to protect nesting birds under Cross Compliance Rules set by Defra.

The worst of the water logging on the farm

The worst of the water logging on the farm

Livestock – two out of the four heifers which were sired by our new bull, ‘Aynho Proud Galliant’ have calved which was very exciting in December. Not only was it a relief to see that the new bull had done his job, but also these were the first generation of Aberdeen Angus cows that had been bread on the farm under our own pedigree herd name ‘Wold’. We tend to bring their calving a month or two forward from the main herd as its their first time and tend to need more TLC compared to the more experienced cows.

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Wold Lady Renne N087 and her new heifer calf

Hay & Haylage – the wet weather has seen an increase in deliveries being made to livery yards and horse owners. We have shifted over 11,000 small bales this season so far and hope to build on this in the coming months. Our switch to only producing seed haylage from rye grass instead of a meadow grass as in previous years has seen an marked improvement in producing consistently high quality fodder and next to zero spoilt bales being returned.

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140 small meadow hay in bundles of 14

The to-do list – in the next month we hope to cut all the hedges left to trim, ditch at least 800 metres of field ditches, muck out a couple of cattle sheds in readiness for the main herd to calve, plant a further 40 cricket bat willow trees and start going through our arable machinery in particular our cultivator and drill in preparation for spring drilling in March/April where hope to drill spring barley and beans.  There is always a nice long list of jobs to keep us busy and warm in the winter months.


Update on our Bird & Conservation Strips

Claire in one of Wildlife & Bird Cover Strips

Claire in one of Wildlife & Bird Cover Strips

Back in June we posted about our continued focus on the environment and our aim to give a little back to our feathered friends on the farm at Walgrave during the winter months.  Despite a very dry spring/early summer, most of our cover crops have come up well and we have already seen our first covey of Grey partridge in the Kings Wild bird seed mix.

Kings wild bird seed mix

Kings wild bird seed mix

Small Bale Seed Haylage

At J.A. Knight Farms & Son Ltd we take great care in making sure our seed Haylage is the best quality for our customers.  In this process we individually bale each haylage bale with our conventional Newholland baler and then pack 10 small bales into a square pack using an Arcusin B14.  Once wrapped these packs of 10 are moved to a secure rodent free pen (nick named the ‘rat pen’) to mature before being sold to our customers in either packs of 10 or individulaly wrapped using our Tawi 200 wrapper.

This season’s haylage available from 20th August onwards!!

Baling & Packing Haylage

Baling & Packing Haylage

Baling the seed Haylage

Baling the seed Haylage

Arcusin B14 packing the seed Haylage

Arcusin B14 packing the seed Haylage

Pack of !0 Small Seed Haylage

Pack of 10 Small Seed Haylage

Seed Haylage Packs in the secure 'Rat Pen'

Seed Haylage Packs in the secure ‘Rat Pen’

Bird & Conservation Cover Crops

John drilling with our 4m Combination drill

John drilling with our 4m Combination dill.

During the end of May we drilled around 6 acres of Kings Wild Bird seed mixtures as part of our Entry Level Stewardship scheme in Walgrave, Northampton.  We have chosen a mix that offers a winter hardy cover and season long feed for farmland birds as well as game birds for our small farm shoot.  Thanks to the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust ‘action plan’ that focus on Grey (English) partridge, we have seen an increase in breeding pairs over the last few years by following the guidelines.  We hope to see the benefits for year to come!


Drilling Kings Wild Bird seed mix

Spring marks the start of Spot Spraying

ATV with Logic 120 L Spray Tank

ATV with Logic 120 L Spray Tank

Over the last few years we have found there has been an increasing demand for our spot spraying services within Northampton and Leicestershire aimed at horse paddocks and grassland areas. Our ATV is equipped with a Logic sprayer that can be operated using a hand lance for small areas or 3m boom for larger patches of thistles, nettles or docks. We are happy to come out for a site visit or can quote over the phone.

Logic 3m spray boom

Logic 3m spray boom

Busy as a Bee?

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This busy honey bee was snapped last Sunday in Walgrave, Northampton pollinating our Oilseed Rape crop. Not only was it a Sunday, but he’d travelled over a mile from the nearest bee hive and average’s 10 trips outside of the hive per day at between 1 to 1.5 miles per trip!

Small Bale Barley straw heading West

Loading two packs of straw onto the lorry - 28 bales at once

Loading two packs of straw onto the lorry – 28 bales at once

A few years ago we purchased an Arcusin B14 which picks up our small bales (hay or straw) and packs them into packs of 14 bound by 4 strings. This has revolutionised our handling and output of small bale hay and straw. As the picture illustrates we can handle large quantities of bales using one man and a loader. Our ultimate goal is quality and consistency, with this machine we have been able to concentrate on baling at optimal times with the knowledge that we can clear a field and stack it safely in our straw shed if the weather looks to break.

We still have a good supply of small bale hay and straw available so please contact us if you require a competitive quote and delivery.

602 small bales loaded and we didn't man handle 1

602 small bales loaded and we didn’t man handle 1