25 September 1998

MM pricing may bring bonus for dairymen

Milk Marques new two-tier pricing structure, which will pay farmers the standard litre price plus a monthly trading bonus, may at first sight appear insecure.

The bonus will be governed largely by the price MM achieves for almost a quarter of its milk which will be sold outside the selling process into short-term markets. These are volatile outlets. But they have recently offered at least as good a return as MMs more familiar six-month contract values.

Producers will find it more difficult to budget accurately. But the promise of a price increase, albeit a small one, outweighs that.

MM was right to have ended the selling round when it did. At least that is better than going back for a repeat performance, which would have guaranteed lower returns.

MM pricing may bring bonus for dairymen

Milk Marques new two-tier pricing structure, which will pay farmers the standard litre price plus a monthly trading bonus, may at first sight appear insecure.

The bonus will be governed largely by the price MM achieves for almost a quarter of its milk which will be sold outside the selling process into short-term markets. These are volatile outlets. But they have recently offered at least as good a return as MMs more familiar six-month contract values.

Producers will find it more difficult to budget accurately. But the promise of a price increase, albeit a small one, outweighs that.

MM was right to have ended the selling round when it did. At least that is better than going back for a repeat performance, which would have guaranteed lower returns.

Silage software might prove a tasty offer

Silage-making has been anything but easy on many beef units this year.

Catchy weather conspired against producers and clamps destined for this winters feeding could be variable in quality.

The Meat and Livestock Commissions new silage rationing program – available free to producers – will help formulate over-wintering finishing diets.

But its success depends entirely on using a representative silage analysis. Meanwhile, ensuring that cattle obtain all the nutrients they need requires careful thought.

The MLCs initiative is to be welcomed, but rationing can make or break an over-wintering systems success. When in doubt, consult a nutritionist.

These are grave times for malting barley

If winter barley is on its knees, then winter malting barley is almost dead and buried.

Unless maltsters and brewers signal real interest in the crop soon, plantings could tumble below current estimates of a 30% slump.

Admittedly, a larger slice of this autumns smaller crop area will be planted with dual-purpose varieties. But this harvest showed how unreliable the quality of such crops can be.

For many growers winter barley is a vital crop in the rotation. If the trade wants winter barley for malting next year it needs to signal some interest to the market soon. Otherwise many growers could be forced to abandon the crop.

Fine-tune cultivation costs to fields needs

It is always tempting to reduce cultivations to save costs, but what is the true value of minor savings if the price to be paid is lost yield?

Rather than trying to match cultivation costs to your budget, the trick is to tailor them to the precise needs of each field each season, according to expert advice.

As our Arable Section explains, a growing band of farmers is fine-tuning cultivations to achieve maximum yield at least cost.

The challenge now is for growers with limited cultivations equipment to follow suit. It wont be easy. But even more difficult in the long run, will be facing up to the implications of a needlessly expensive cultivations strategy.

Win a £43,000 Valmet 8050 tractor for 20p

Modern tractors, bristling with sophisticated hydraulics and clever electronics, are not cheap.

But you could get one for only 20p if you win the prize tractor in our autumn competition.

It is a 110hp Valmet 8050 tractor with a six-cylinder engine, 5600kg lift capacity, air-conditioning, air seat and a 36×36 gearbox.

Worth £43,800, it is one of the Finnish companys flagship models. How do you win it? Just read the text in the five FW issues from Sept 25 onward, put the list of Valmet features in their correct order and send the coupon to us.

The competition is open to farmers, managers, contractors and farm workers. And the 20p? The cost of a stamp, of course.

GMOs – bright future or too big a risk?

Genetic modification – path to profit or road to ruin?

British agriculture is at the crossroads. Should we develop genetic engineering to take advantage of the benefits promised by its supporters?

Or would we be better off turning our back on a risky science the significance of which we have yet to fully understand? To answer those questions, FW is staging a high profile conference on Thurs, Feb 4, 1999, at the National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull, West Midlands. Watch out for more details in the near future.