Bill Davey won over by case for HLS

I’m writing this as we fly back to New Zealand after five wonderful, yet exhausting weeks spent in England.

It’s been tough on the waistline so a month or two of short rations is on the cards. Big thanks to all of our family and friends who made us so welcome. It was greatly appreciated.

Cereals amazed me, probably because the last time I attended was back in 1999. One day was barely enough to absorb the wealth of information and technology on offer. What really stood out was the enormous selection of expensive machinery on display. For an industry that has been finding profit-making difficult of late I wondered who could justify purchasing this kit?

Although based in North Lincolnshire, during our stay I visited several farms between North Yorkshire and Suffolk. I was aware that the eastern counties had suffered due to extremely dry conditions, but I was surprised that most crops looked better than I’d expected. Apart from the odd pockets of root crops, wheat and oilseed rape dominated the landscape.

My conclusion was that using these two crops as a benchmark, on the heavier bodied land in North Lincolnshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire, yields will be good, especially second wheats. However, on the lighter soils the further I drove south, I felt that insufficient storage was unlikely to be a problem.

It was interesting to hear farmers’ rationale behind their decision to select a subsidy structure, from none whatsoever to the full-blown Higher Level Stewardship. As much as I have always been an admirer of tidiness, one farmer I visited in Suffolk had embraced HLS which really appealed to me. I have never seen so much wild game on a farm since I was a boy. I’d also like to know how his vining peas yielded.

Farmer Focus Arable: Bill Davey

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