Continuous wet weather stops fieldwork for Allan Chambers

It is now almost four months since we have managed to get any field work done, save ring rolling one dry field of wheat.

I have never known such a long spell of continuous wet weather. Thankfully, all crops – with the exception of one 10ha field of wheat – are fine, but will need attention very soon.

Plans for the change in our farm business are progressing well. Brother David and I are going our separate ways after farming together for nearly 50 years. Thankfully, the split is planned and amicable and our machinery auction will be the day after this is published. With the change will come the new challenge of share farming with a young nephew.

The business model is simplicity itself. Neill will provide, maintain, and work the machinery required to run the farm. I will supply all seeds, chemicals, and fertilisers to grow the crops. Forward planning will be a joint process and, hopefully, some fresh thinking will bring the business forward. All sales will be on a 50:50 split and in return for providing buildings, maintaining drainage, fences, gates, and soil pH, I will collect the single farm payment for as long as it lasts. This system of tenure is not common practice, but I feel that it has much to offer for the long-term benefit of profitable farming and for long-term husbandry of the land.

Almost one-third of the land in Northern Ireland is rented out on a one-year tenancy agreement by, in the main, overpaid landlords who return nothing to their land to maintain its productivity. Tenants are reluctant to commit any capital to the land as they have no guarantee of future use of these fields. Farm structure and land tenure are the single greatest problems facing progressive farmers over here, yet no one with any power to lobby for change will address these issues. Meanwhile, our progressive young farmers will suffer and landlords will receive more lifestyle cash.

Mistake of the month: haven’t done enough work to make any.

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