Allan Chambers is looking forward to the innovations at Cereals 2012

By publication date Cereals 2012 will be over and visitors, including our party from Northern Ireland, will be mulling over the innovations and ideas picked up during the visit.

Many sales teams will have been focusing on the need to increase yields to feed the predicted population explosion. But looking over the hedges on some recent long journeys, I have wondered whether, if the thousands of hectares of under-producing, poorly-farmed land were to be brought up to a reasonable level of fertility, there would really be such a potential need.

Area-based payments have a lot to answer for. Our own crops are all looking promising. Volume winter barley is four inches taller than normal – why I don’t know – and may lodge if the weather is poor. Wheats – winter and spring – have stayed very clean and should reach their potential.

This year’s crops are costing about £100/ha more to grow. Most of this increase is down to fertiliser, as we were fortunate to have bought at the correct time in previous years, but fungicide costs are creeping up.

Construction of our new shed will get under way shortly. We have had major delays waiting for planning approval. Civil servants need to be sent out into the real world as part of their training. They have no idea how businesses budget, plan, seek tenders, organise builders, hire in site construction equipment and the rest. Six weeks should be the turnaround time for a simple farm building application, not six months.

Mistake of the month: We were invited to a very sociable, at-home, free-bar wedding, where I met a wealthy racehorse owner. One of his top horses was running the next day and was in with a big chance. Had a punt. It finished second. Hope that barley stands up!

Allan Chambers farms 270ha of medium stony loam at Tullynaskeagh Farm, Tullynaskeagh, Co Down, with brother David growing cereals, grass for haylage and maize.

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