Diesel dilemma for Martin Lawrenson: June column

Martin Lawrenson and his father Stan farm 146ha (360 acres) of mainly peat land at Northwoods Farm, Pilling in Lancashire growing cereals, potatoes, oilseed rape and grass for horse hay and haylage. They also have pigs, poultry and beef cattle.

After looking to be at least a fortnight late planting potatoes, we finished on 17 May, only two days behind schedule.

Conditions for the last three weeks were perfect with little rain and warm winds drying even the wettest fields. Crops are emerging and looking pretty good. Hopefully we can look forward to a better growing season than last year which was trying to say the least.

One benefit of the good weather is that we haven’t had to use quite as much diesel as normal, which is good as prices seem to be rising all the time and are showing no signs of easing.

The problem is deciding whether to buy only what we need and hope the price drops, or to fill every tank to the top in anticipation of more increases.

How much further can the price rise before we decide that our businesses cannot afford it? Surely the government must look to reduce the tax on diesel or it will have a serious effect on the economy.

Our wind farm application went before the local planning committee recently. Unfortunately it was refused on two grounds – the impact on the countryside and how it would affect migrating geese which arrive here in winter.

According to the RSPB the turbines could kill up to 20 geese a year. My point that there would probably be that many killed every day during the shooting season didn’t seem to go down well. Now we must wait to see if we are going to appeal against the decision.

We are now hoping for a good weather window in June to allow us to make some seed hay and haylage – although the prospect of stacking a few thousand small bales of hay by hand loses its appeal more every year.

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