Arable Farmer Focus: Frustration as DEFRA delays Andrew Blenkiron’s HLS application

Now that most of the harvest is finished around the country, who is going to admit to having plenty of time for recreational tillage? Who subsoils no matter what or takes that extra time just to make an extra special job?

Not here, no time for that, just get on and do the job right the first time. As a result the oilseed rape is all up and the great autumn slug watch is now on. First wheats were all sown by 14 September. Time is now being spent getting some desperately needed silage for the cows and spraying before we go back to the drill.

Yet another Rural Payments Agency inspection, this time to measure the bean area. It was just in the nick of time, another couple of days and the stubble would have gone. Are they sure there isn’t a hit list with me at the top. Shame that DEFRA isn’t as efficient with the HLS application. A phone call in mid-August informing me that the joint ELS/HLS could not now begin until at least December sent a big flush of blood to my temper.

A lot of rushing around and help from my friends at the local FWAG office allowed us to submit, hopefully, an “interim” ELS to avoid missing out on this important income. So with no agreement in place, what if I were the bloody-minded type, rip out all the margins and other good work, then use the allowed 12 months and put them all back again after next harvest. Hardly what I would call good customer service.

I recall five years ago when first introduced, there was a massive push to get us all to apply, then surprise, surprise they were oversubscribed. These things cost a lot of money and time to get ready, there must be a better way.

The other thing not helping my temper lately is how amazing it is that even though the price of gas and oil hasn’t risen that much, we see a 15% rise in the price of fertiliser.

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