Farmer Focus: Richard Beachell February column - Farmers Weekly

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Farmer Focus: Richard Beachell February column

Over winter I lectured at Bishop Burton College on an HNC in Agriculture course.

We spend quite a lot of time on computers drawing up cash-flow budgets and it was pleasing to the past few years’ minus figures turning positive.

This year’s group is a lively bunch, but it is clear that cash-flow budgeting is uncommon on most farms unless the bank manager dictates it.

We spent a long time discussing the forward price we should use and settled in the £140s for feed wheat. At these healthy prices overdraft figures soon diminish.

Our joint venture business relies heavily on us keeping detailed records of all inputs and outputs.

These have been kept on the Farmplan Crop Manager program which has recently been updated to one called Gatekeeper, and I have spent a fair amount of time in the office becoming familiar with the new software.

Many thanks to Sarah Alexander from Farmade who has been a fantastic help, nursing me through this on the end of a phone. As a result, I am up and running, and Gatekeeper looks a useful tool which will allow us to scrutinise our business in even more detail.

Now the days are getting longer it is good to get outside again and stuck into some manual work.

I have spent the past few days with my daughter Rosie teaching her the fine art of stock fencing in one of our grass fields. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with her and I now know the words and all the dance moves to the current Top 40.

Nitrogen plans have been drawn up and the Kuhn Aero has been checked over and hitched to one of the JD6920s. Once into March we will take our first tentative steps back onto the land.

Farmer Focus: Richard Beachell February column

I travelled down to LAMMA with Nick, my farming neighbour, and he commented that farmers would be like kids in a sweet shop with their pocket money, given the upturn in commodity prices.

I was amazed at how the big the event has become –now second only to Cereals for a worthwhile day out at an agricultural show.

We arrived early but it was a struggle to get round in the day. It was pleasing to sense the positive vibes oozing from the machinery stands.

Our machinery policy sees us looking to replace the trailed crop sprayer andthis was our focus.Over the past few months we have narrowed the choice to two machines but this increased to three after we were impressed with another model there.

The idea is to convert from solid to liquid fertiliser and just one machine so it’s important that we make the right choice.

The price per unit andavailability of liquid nitrogen is a major concern. Supplies are so tight that we can’t get hold of a tanker load to test it out this season.

Once we’ve gone down this route there is no going backas tramline widths would increase to 28m which, in our opinion, is really too wide to spread accurately with a spinning disc unless SP5 material is used.

Over the years fine–tuning of crop husbandry has enabled us to produce a quality bread wheat sample, and there is a certain reluctance to start the learning curve again via the liquid route.

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