25 September 1998

Receipts all gathered in

BOTH winter barley and oilseed rape left the farm in July and August and, with the receipts safely banked, we are now in a position to calculate the gross margins for these two enterprises.

The final selling price for the Maris Otter winter barley, after deductions for screenings and a part load surcharge, levies and weigh-bridge charges was £82.90/t.

The feed barley price at time of movement was £61/t. The income of £485.12/ha is supplemented by a secondary income of £117.89/ha paid by our pig unit for 52.2t of barley straw which was baled, carted and stacked by the arable unit for £25/t. The final figure of £241.72/ha is for area aid making a total income of £844.72/ha as shown in the table.

Variable costs for winter barley are on the high side at £212.75/ha compared with our figure of £178.96 for wheat. This is partly due to the purchase of Ferrax-dressed seed compared with our home-saved wheat seed, which accounts for nearly £12/ha and an additional £28/ha on fungicide to control mildew and rynchosporium. Not a breathtaking result, but had we succeeded in reducing the nitrogen level below 1.5 we could have earned another £117/ha, making a more respectable gross margin of about £750/ha.

We have committed ourselves to trying again next year and will grow 30.56ha for sowing at the end of September after wheat. This will bite into our combinable break crop rotation and not into the wheat area, reducing the allocation to oilseeds for 1999 harvest.

The oilseed rape was only marginally more profitable to grow this harvest than winter barley; this yielded 3.49t/ha and sold at £158.71/t net of levies and weigh-bridge charges. Average oil content was 42.7%, admixture at 0.3% and moisture at 7.5% resulting in a bonus payment of £1101.40 or £10.80/t. The gross margin for this crop in 1997 was £852.81/ha when the selling price was £190.41/t and the area aid payment £377.59/ha. This year I have reduced the expected AAPS payment to £282/ha after discussions with Andersons, who also prepare the figures in the Markets section of farmers weekly.

Variable costs, at £194.31/ha, are down £50/ha on last year, partly on the back of reduced fertiliser input and price, and partly because we have been able to reduce the contract charges for spreading fertiliser and high-clearance spraying. The end result is a gross margin of £641.71/ha, a drop of 27.5% on our five-year average on very similar yield performance.

The new crop oilseed rape drilled on Aug 27 has emerged well as have the volunteer cereals. We are, therefore, poised ready to spray with a tank-mix of graminicide and insecticide for flea beetle when the weather allows.

The third risk, namely slugs, was on our minds and prompted the use of traps to monitor the pest. Slugs are not normally too much of a problem on our land and we have never needed to routinely apply granules either with the seed or post drilling.

But in a relaxed moment while we were all busy elsewhere, we fell foul of the pest which has systematically grazed everything that is green in the middle of a field of Madrigal.

A damage limitation exercise was carried out last week by re-drilling 0.6ha and rolling-in followed by an application of mini-slug pellets at 10kg/ha and the expectation of a follow-up.

Wheat drilling started on Sept 16, 10 days later than last year, 23ha of Abbot is the first variety to be drilled and has been sown at 97kg/ha or 150 seeds a sq m.

CYO Seeds (Midlands) from Lutterworth cleaned and dressed our farm-saved seed earlier in the month. The Abbot had a thousand seed weight of 56g and, after going over a 2.8mm sieve and gravity separator, was dressed with Beret Gold.

The seed-beds have been prepared by using our Kverneland discs on oilseed rape and pea stubbles as the primary cultivation tool followed by Cambridge rolls and a power harrow-drill combination. &#42

Easton Lodge: Gross margins 1998 harvest – w OSR

(Total area: 29.24 ha) (£/ha) (£ total)

Income

Primary income

Yield (t) 3.49 102.07

Price 554.02 16,199.53

Other income 282.00 8,245.68

Total income 836.02 24,445.21

Variable costs

FertiliserNitrogen 54.73 1,600.34Compound 22.20 649.02

Seed 50.36 1,472.61

SpraysInsecticide 12.43 363.50Herbicide 38.92 1,138.02Adjuvant 1.22 35.80Fungicide 14.45 422.40

Total variable costs 194.31 5,681.69

Gross margin £641.71 £18,763.52

Easton Lodge: Gross margins 1998 harvest – w barley

Maris Otter (total area: 11.07ha) (£/ha) (£ total)

Income

Primary income Yield (t) 5.85 64.78

Price 485.12 5,370.26

Secondary income

Yield (t) 4.72 52.20

Price 117.89 1,305.00

Other income 241.72 2,675.84

Total income 844.72 9,351.10

Variable costs

FertiliserNitrogen 33.73 373.38Compound 32.56 360.40

Seed 42.37 469.00

SpraysHerbicide 11.63 128.73Insecticide 0.81 9.00Fungicide 66.26 733.53Adjuvant 6.53 72.24Growth regulator 18.87 208.91

Total variable costs 212.75 2,355.18

Gross margin 631.97 6,995.92