Kieran Walsh - Hands Free Hectare Blog Part 4 - First Day of Combining

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Nearly one year on since Kit first asked me to be involved in Hands Free Hectare and the day had arrived for combining the hectare of KWS Irina spring barley. I woke to the sound of rain hitting my bedroom window, I looked at my phone to see if the team had sent any messages saying “don’t come its lashing down with rain, we are not going to cut” but no such message, I was just hoping it was dry 110 miles away at Harper Adams.


Heading to the M5, the sky was looking rather dark and it was not feeling like a combining day. I hit the Birmingham traffic and the rain was less than ideal with the wipers in full swing. The day for showing off all the hard work with the combine cutting the barley for the press and other guests was not looking good.

Arriving at Harper, there had been 4mm of rain but it had stopped. After the presentation from the HFH team, the decision was made to get the tractor and combine out in the field with fingers crossed that the weather would come right. It did for all of about 40mins, Jon fired up the large drone with our sampling crab on so we could test the moisture (pic below). The result 19.4% and, with the weather looking bad for the week, we got the combine in place to start.  

Martin started the combine going and it was working better than I expected. Not sure why I was surprised as Kit, Martin and Jon have done a great Job from start to finish throughout this project. It was fantastic to see it driving down the field on its own with barley coming in the grain tank and chopped straw out the back. All was going very smoothly until the grey clouds and rain arrived… heavy rain! So that was the end of our combining for the day, probably for the best as after going through the combine the barley moisture was 21%.

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