2 March 2001

SURVIVINGDARKESTDAYS

Make no mistake – this is the worst start to a farming year in living memory.

With prices only slightly up, autumn drillings savaged by unprecedented rainfall and herbicide programmes in tatters the prospects are not bright.

But all is not gloom. Even a small rise in grain prices, prompted by currency movements and changing global grain requirements, is good news. It helps change the industrys perspective.

So, have we been through the worst? Is the future really brighter? With so many fields unsown and those that were now looking so sad, there is still plenty of cause for despondency. Extra spring cropping, with its inherently lower margin potential, is also a significant cause for concern.

Add the delayed effect of low prices working through into farm accounts over the coming 18 months and the downsides are obvious.

But prospects are not as grim as they were. With wheat trading at over £78/t for next January the markets are more positive. The potential for better margins clearly exists.

Admittedly a lot of hard work and a liberal dose of good luck will be needed between now and harvest to secure respectable yields. But if the weather is kind there is ample scope to exploit the latest agronomic advice and use modern inputs to push yields up.

In this supplement we outline just some of the management and agronomy changes growers need to implement to survive this most miserable start to the farming year.

Survival is the key and survival demands action rather than simply battening down the hatches. Switching off inputs is no way to boost incomes. Making the right input decisions and the most appropriate changes to business structures is the key.

The advice to help farmers do that is available. Sometimes it takes some finding. In this supplement we provide a taster of what is on offer. It can make a difference to your business. We hope it helps!