Farm judging highlights business direction for Robert Law

It’s the season for inspections and judging. This week, we have ACCS (now called the Red Tractor Farm Assurance Combinable Crops and Sugar Beet Scheme) and inspections on the farms in the Royston area as well as one up in Nottinghamshire.

The judges have been assessing the farms for our entry into the RSPB’s Nature of Farming Award. In addition, Farmers Weekly judges visited our long-standing stalwart Mark Moule, who has been shortlisted for the Farmworker of the Year award.

The RSPB judges were on-farm for almost four hours and they gave both me and the farm a good going-over. I always find this process rewarding since the probing questions always put you on the spot and sometimes help question what we are doing, why and where we are going.

However, the tables were turned last week when Mark and I took up an invitation from fellow Farmer Focus (Livestock) writer Robert Neill, to judge the Border Crop and Grassland Management Competition. We had an intensive and extremely rewarding two days travelling around six farms, spread from Kelso across to Eyemouth, then down into Northumberland and then back up into the Cheviots.

We were not allowed to know whose farm we were visiting until we arrived on site. However, the entrants had known who was coming to judge them for some time and had more than done their homework. They were clearly avid Farmer Focus readers. They knew about what crops we grew, machinery we ran and our participation in environmental schemes.

While I wouldn’t want some of the grain-drying bills on these farms, I went rather green when one large wheat grower told me he didn’t use any insecticides or aphicides and didn’t know what blackgrass looked like. It seemed to me that shed-building up in the Borders was the industry to be in at the moment.

• Read more from Robert Law

• Read more Farmer Focus columns

See more