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Ian Brown

18 February 2000

Ian Brown

Ian Brown is a third

generation tenant on the

156ha (385-acre) Lee Moor

Farm, Rennington, Alnwick,

Northumberland where he

grows winter wheat, barley

and oilseed rape as well as

spring peas

AS rural dwellers in the far north of England we feel a long way from government and that is not helped by two rebuttal reports recently released by the cabinet office.

One says there is no north-south divide and the other maintains that generally things in the countryside are just fine. Prime examples of the fine art of sweeping statements and useful statistics! On Lee Moor I have done what the Prime Minister has asked and it is not the route for the faint hearted. Selling personal assets to keep the business on an even keel is a leap of faith, even for a youngish man like myself.

On the farm we have been servicing machinery and preparing seed barley and peas for collection. Our seed merchant has taken 25t of Espace peas south and we hope a second load will follow. The premium will be greatly welcomed. Fertiliser spreading will be the next task. Last week 50t of UK-manufactured, SP5-rated ammonium nitrate arrived on farm from our grain co-operative at a competitive price. The crops look well, which is a good thing as looking at our year 2000 budgets they must all perform.

Our FWAG Landwise report has been done. It is a good opportunity to record the state of the environment and prepare for some new projects on the farm. Three power poles cut off at 5m (16ft) will have barn owl boxes constructed by the landlords conservation team. These are one area of accommodation on the farm on which I wont be looking for a rent!

After the NFU AGM I was one of the lucky ones chosen to represent the rural economy at No 10. That economy, as represented by the 200 people there, is changing. For some readers that will bring advantages, and to some disadvantages. My mind is focused on my own cash flow, so I chose not to have a word in Mr Blairs ear. But I hope he could read my furrowed brow across the room.

Fertiliser is on farm and ready to be applied at Lee Moor, where Ian Brown says crops will really have to perform this year.

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Ian Brown

15 May 1998

Ian Brown

Ian Brown is a third

generation tenant on the

160ha (395-acre) Lee Moor

Farm, Rennington, Alnwick,

Northumberland where he

grows winter wheat, barley

and oilseed rape as well as

spring peas

WELL we didnt build an ark, but it was tempting with 37% of the annual rain falling in April. The cold easterly winds have also meant that the hedges have gone a fairly unhealthy brown colour. I suspect all will recover in time.

The wheats have had their nitrogen brought up to 125kg/ha (100 units/acre) and will receive the rest soon, milling varieties receiving a late bag at flag leaf stage. There is discussion locally as to compensating nitrogen rates for the leaching which was caused by the rain. Figures are available which we would moderate bearing in mind good rooting, our clay soil and the number of days post application but before the rain.

Our oilseed rape is about to receive its mid-flower spray to keep the petal and stem-borne diseases in check. Winter barley had growth regulator, fungicide and trace elements at the end of April and the crops although a little weathered are well tillered and even. Getting timely and legal application of inputs has been tough this year but Alan (key operator) has done us proud.

There is nothing worse than those agri-politicians who say one thing and do another on their own farm, so having spoken on platforms in favour of machinery rings and farm assurance Lee Moor is now a member of both arrangements and I am more convinced than ever that they will add a strand of certainty in a very uncertain world.

A change of quad bike will allow us to offer a service cutting grass buffer strips of one metre upwards and spraying approved substances on hedges etc. This will be a growing area on our own and other farms as cross compliance becomes a reality. This area of farming is where threat and opportunity are all but neighbours.

Joining a machinery ring, farm assurance, a new quad-bike grass-cutting service…Ian Brown is ringing the changes at Lee Moor Farm, Northumberland.

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Ian Brown

20 February 1998

Ian Brown

Ian Brown is a third

generation tenant on the

156ha (385-acre) Lee Moor

Farm, Rennington, Alnwick,

Northumberland where he

grows winter wheat, barley

and oilseed rape as well as

spring peas

WINTER lasts longer in the north and I am a patient man, so I do not turn to the T-sum page in FW with the zeal of a maiden aunt looking for her horoscope.

The local trial results from Cockle Park have always backed up my gut feeling that those who will be seen in the next few weeks spreading fertiliser, and we can accurately predict who they are going to be, are doing so to feel better rather than for the cause of profit or science.

As the shared owner of calibration trays, I shall also be finding a day to tray test my fertiliser and check our 18m accord pneumatic spreader is doing its stuff. As an "SP5" kind of a guy I do not expect a problem, although our 10t of urea may be more unpredictable.

The last month saw two milestones -one gives me four weeks of my life back and one takes four weeks away. I have stopped being a Young Farmer (I did not mention behaving like one) as I have handed on my position, representing the Young Farmers of England and Wales on the Council of European Young Farmers (CEJA), to someone younger and fitter.

But as farming is in crisis I feel some mental weight training is needed, so I have started doing a masters degree at Durham University Business School in, wait for it, Entrepreneurship. Yes, I am the only farmer and this is the first time this course has been tried anywhere in the world but I am loving every minute.

So when I qualify in October 1999, I may well have a taste for woolly jumpers, slow trains and balloons that go up, up and away. Watch this space. &#42

Ian Brown may no longer be a Young Farmer, but he is becoming a student again as the only farmer on the worlds first course on Entrepreneurship. Meanwhile he is pausing to reflect before starting the fertiliser spreading.

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Ian Brown

23 January 1998

Ian Brown

Ian Brown is a third

generation tenant on the

156ha (385-acre) Lee Moor

Farm, Rennington, Alnwick,

Northumberland, where he

grows winter wheat, barley

and oilseed rape as well as

spring peas

ITS FUNNY how it takes a few weeks to get used to writing the correct year in the top right-hand side of the cheque book. Thankfully, it is a time when the cheque book is a little less frantic than usual, although that is matched by an almost total inactivity of the paying-in book too.

Having only combinable crops and no livestock on the farm means we now have a period of four to six weeks to focus on conservation work.

We entered the hedgerow incentive scheme (now part of stewardship) five years ago and are in the final year of capital works this week, with five more years of maintenance ahead of us. This scheme will see 8km (5 miles) of hedges restored, including 45,000 plants established over five years.

Before the end of the frosty season we will add Kerb (propyzamide) herbicide granules to some of the hedges which have succumbed to more severe grass weed problems.

This year will see nearly a mile of hedges layed. This is having a big landscape effect, especially since most hedges were left uncut for the previous two to four seasons. Such an approach also allows a number of self-set trees in the hedge line to grow on to maturity and replace the many we have lost to old age over recent decades.

On a completely different subject, we had my grandfathers ashes scattered over the Christmas period. Granny had decided that since he was a maltster all his life a field of malting barley would be the most appropriate place.

I agreed, but in a morbid moment wondered how the decision would fit into a world which includes farm assurance. Will I now have to declare the area of the field where he was laid to rest? &#42

Field work may be on hold, but gives Ian Brown time to concentrate on conservation work, including that extensive hedgerow replanting.

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Ian Brown

17 April 1997

Ian Brown

Ian Brown is a third

generation tenant on the

156ha (385-acre) Lee Moor

Farm, Rennington, Alnwick,

Northumberland, where he

grows winter wheat, barley

and oilseed rape as well as

spring peas

THE seed peas were drilled on Mar 23 into a good, moist seed-bed. But circumstances and the weather meant they werent rolled, which has gone from being a mistake to being a very good idea in the light of the 100mm (4in) of rain weve endured since.

We had decided to change policy and avoid a pre-emergence spray anyway. I am now led to believe many people in the south regularly roll post-emergence without any damage to yield, so we shall perhaps have a go in a few weeks time.

We sold another load of feed wheat at £70.50/t, only to get a £1/t reduction for a 71.8kg/ha bushel weight. The words insult to injury spring to mind. That leaves us with just 50t to go – but at what price remains to be seen. It keeps going down by £10/t between every load I sell.

The malting barleys have had all their fertiliser and the rape and seed barleys just require a final dollop when the weather clears. Most wheats have had their first dose and I have to say crops are looking a very healthy green. I dont know what it would be called on the Dulux colour chart, but Im happy with that colour wall to wall on my farm.

Trees are a quick way to lower the value of land on the face of, it but weve planted 1.2ha (3 acres) on a bit of cleared scrub using appropriate forestry grants, and have just rented a 3.9ha (9.7 acres) wood from our landlord which brings our tree area to 12.1ha (30 acres).

As a tenant this is unusual. But I have appropriate agreements in place and the wooded areas increase both the nature and shooting potential on the farm for the future. &#42

Planting trees is unusual behaviour for a tenant, says Ian Brow. But the has planted 1.2ha and has just rented a further 3.9ha of woodland.

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