THE weather over the last week just reminds us that, although the days are getting longer and spring flowers are blooming, March can still bring some cold, stormy conditions. Rain has fallen most days, but thankfully for the newborn lambs, most has come in short bursts, nevertheless it has amounted to 33mm. At times it has been very windy, giving a cooler feel, but there have also been spells of warm sunshine, so altogether a very mixed week. The saying is if "March comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb", we certainly hope this will be the outcome.

Newborn lambs with their mothers continue to be turned out in fields of growing spring grass and Ian and Richard have weighed all our Aberdeen Angus youngstock to see how they have responded to the additional nutrients in their diet. I am pleased to say that they were pleased with the results.

Whilst the ground was dry Ian and Richard spread some stored manure onto one of our fields where a catch crop (a fast-growing crop grown between successive plantings of a main crop) of forage rape was grown. This forage rape was grazed by some of the sheep and the field will be planted with maize later in the spring. Incorporating manure, which is organic matter, into the soil will help drainage and provide useful nutrients for the crop grown. Part of the nitrogen needed for crop growth is provided by manure and the remainder supplied by fertiliser. Farmers have to keep records of previous cropping and manure history, along with regular soil analyses, to determine how much additional fertiliser needs to be added. Soil analyses of some of Kevin's arable fields showed that as well as nitrogen, sulphur was low. Winter cereals on Manor Farm have been given a dressing of nitrogen fertiliser, whilst Kevin's cereals were given an application of nitrogen and sulphur.

Ian has also given all the grass on Manor and Chiverlins Farm an application of urea, which is an inexpensive form of nitrogen fertiliser. Urea is produced in humans and animals when proteins are broken down, the outcome of which is the production of ammonia. This ammonia combines with other chemicals in the body including carbon, oxygen and hydrogen to form urea. Urea is excreted as a waste product by the kidneys in urine. Synthetic urea is manufactured from anhydrous ammonia and formed into small prills to spread on the fields.

At the recent NFU conference held in the ICC, Birmingham a media release from the NFU was entitled "From robots to virtual fencing - what does the future hold for food and farming in Britain?" The NFU has taken a leap into the future to try and determine what British agriculture will look like in 2040. How will changing trends affect food production? Case studies show that cutting-edge technologies will revolutionise the way we farm by maximising productivity, data collection, precision and efficiency. This will benefit the environment and mitigate against climate change with an increasing population. Advanced technologies are already being used to care for crops on a plant-by-plant basis. Spraying and fertilising on Manor Farm is already being done using a number of advanced technologies, including precision equipment, to maximise efficiency, whilst caring for the environment.

Richard and I recently attended a farmhouse breakfast event to support the RABI (Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution) held at Winkworth Farm, Malmesbury. The RABI is a welfare charity offering support to farming people of all ages in times of hardship.The attendees were served a delicious farmhouse breakfast including locally sourced bacon, eggs and sausages – delicious!