John Gordon: Soil sampling uncovers a costly job which needs to be done

March came in like a lamb and as I write on the 31st it looks like it is also going out like a lamb, unlike last year when it came in like a lion and went out like a tiger with two feet of snow.

Ground conditions are good and although grass is slow to grow at least it’s green now. We don’t have any fertiliser on yet but it’s on the agenda for next week.

Lambing is in full swing with lambs a good size and full of vigour. We are clearing our pens well each morning which is great to see. Our biggest problem has been with prolapse because the ewes are in decent condition. We have lost four ewes and a couple have had rotten lambs - just a normal lambing I hear you say.

Finished hogg prices have been exceptional recently and a scarcity of sheep will probably keep the price where it is. It is frustrating for the breeder, who has most of the work and the cost, not to get a bigger slice of the cake, but we can only hope for a sound trade in September.

Calving is slowing down with only 20 to go. We sold the remaining cattle on March 11 and averaged 2.10p/kg for 55 cattle at 400kg. A good sound trade and I wish the buyers well and hope they will be back next year.

Selling cattle has helped the silage situation and having bought more I’m sure we should now have enough to do until the end of May. All the early talk of a scarcity of fodder has proven unfounded and thus it should return to a realistic price next year.

We have soil sampled another 60 hectares (150 acres) of ground with the GPS and applied lime accordingly. Our soil is high in potash but low in phosphate. We will need to give most of the grass triple super phosphate. It’s not cheap but I was always taught never to let your farm know you are hard up.

Finally, son Ewan showed two cattle in the Young Farmers over-wintering competition. He got a second with one he bought-in and champion with a home-bred steer in the other section. It was an excellent event with 90 exhibition animals from 45 exhibitors. Ewan also passed his tractor test this week so watch out on the roads.

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