On my recent trip up to the Scottish Borders for my mother-in-law’s birthday party, not only did I have a chance to spy on my old pals and fellow focus writers’ farms, but had time to reflect.
Not only was I going back to where I started out after leaving Harper Adams, but the trip allowed me to give some thought to my time in farming.
This was all triggered by a recent reunion reminder to celebrate the fact that it will be 25 years this summer since I left that prestigious establishment. What a fascinating 25 years, starting from my grandparents’ 48ha hard hill farm in the Yorkshire Dales to the vast tracts of flat land here at Euston.
I have been arable farming in years of 300mm of rain and those of over 1,270mm, conventional wheat yields have ranged 3t/ha to 14.5t/ha, wheat prices ranging from £66/t to £212/t, nitrogen fertiliser ranging from £76/t to £340/t and tractor fuel rising from 8.5p/litre to more than 70p/litre. This is not to mention set-a-side, stewardship schemes and all those forms! What other industry could have given me such a rollercoaster ride, so many challenges, so much variety, allowed me to make so many good friends or have given me so much enjoyment?
Many say that you should never look back. I hold a different view, we need to remember where we have come from and the mistakes that we have made to enable us to learn and to forge ahead. Back down on the ground, we have so far this year had 60% of last year’s total rain, could we be in for a bumper light land cereal harvest?
Hope to see all of the class of 1987 at the reunion back at Harper on 14 July, and here’s to the next 25 years.
Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Principal farm enterprises are combinable and root crops, including sugar beet. In addition the estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship.
Farmer Focus: Andrew Blenkiron