ElS decisions are not simple for Robert Law

I was listening to Richard King from Andersons talking on Farming Today about the latest farm income figures this morning and he suggested that some farmers might be going out to do a bit of shopping.

In the last month we have replaced one red-coloured drill for another in a darker shade of red. We have outed a 2001 model which has done sterling service, but required a major refit and would still be without the latest technology. We were also concerned by the establishment of some of our crops last autumn and the finger was pointed at the drill. So we have now taken the plunge.

The outlay required certainly leaves us in the hope that the new model will give us at least 10 years’ service.

The first drill I purchased some 30 odd years ago at the start of my farming career was a MF 29 combine drill which set me back some £16 in a farm sale; this was followed by a Carrier drill some two years later costing £200.

The move to tramlines led to the purchase of a 4m Falcon trailed drill, which cost £800 and was in use for 12 years before an increase in the farm area required a higher output machine.

Several of the ELS agreements on farms I am involved with are coming up for renewal this year; since entering these agreements the “bar” has been raised and will be lifted further next January.

To renew the ELS agreements will require more land to be taken out of production and placed into higher scoring options such as pollen and nectar crops to replace points lost under hedgerow management and other options removed from the scheme.

While I remain convinced of the need to renew ELS agreements, to counter pressure from reformers to have these greening measures put into Pillar 1 and hence under the umbrella of the SFP and cross compliance, persuading farmers while commodity prices are high is making the decision to renew somewhat difficult.

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