2018 Programme of Events
Tatsfield Horticultural Society
Garden Club 9th October 2018
A year in the life of Whelan’s farm in Tatsfield – A talk given by Robert Kilby and David Gilchrist.
32 Tatsfielder’s turned up to hear Robert and David tell us that Whelan’s farm is a commercial farm but prefers to be environmentally friendly as part of the work that happens there.
It is 1700 acres /600 Hectares, it is high up and very exposed and the soil has a high chalk content.
It is a mixed farm growing arable crops like winter Barley, oil seed rape, wheat and spring oats. It also has sheep and produces lambs. About 500 acres is kept as grass.
The average rainfall is 1000ml per year, this past year was only 860ml, the 2nd driest ever.
There are a lot of grass weed issues on the farm, the main problem being Rye grass, which is very difficult to control if it gets hold. They try to control weeds with Herbicides and pre-emergence sprays and also try to prevent disturbing the soil too much when drilling.
They belong to a government run environmental scheme HLS which means that they can only use organic material and no fertilisers meaning there is lots of Legislation regarding which products can be used in or on the fields. The farm comes under strict scrutiny and can be fined 3% of its subsidy for each criteria that they have not fulfilled. They have to complete and keep stringent records.
There are margins around the farm that are seeded with special bird friendly plants to encourage the wildlife and provide a safe environment for birds to nest. There are also wild flower margins to encourage the insects. To keep up with modern farming methods the farm has bought some new equipment in the last year.
Robert and David then gave us a theoretical tour of the seasons on the farm. Some facts
last winter was the driest for 18 years and the coldest for 5 years. They also had the ‘Beast from the East’ to contend with. Spring brought some very unpredictable weather. It was then the wettest Spring for 23 years with over 300ml of rain, plus a ‘mini beast from the east’ and also snow. The summer was very hot and dry with only 120ml of rainfall the whole summer. Autumn has been very dry so far, only 60ml of rain to date, the farm needs 400ml over the next 10 weeks to reach the annual rainfall.
All in all a very interesting report much enjoyed by those present.
Abridged report courtesy of Helena Garcia MacLeod
Picture shows Robert, David and Jon Albutt
Annual General Meeting Tuesday 6th November 7.30pm - Village Hall and Big Talk. What a success