Farmer Focus: Allan Chambers has to break a promise

They say promises are made to be broken, and having stated publicly that I would never write doom and gloom in Farmers Weekly, guess what?

Terrible weather, no spring barley or winter wheat cut yet and prices falling by the hour, make me feel like packing it in. Having to take my SFP National Reserve application to a second independent panel (having won an earlier appeal only to have it overturned by the then Northern Ireland agriculture minister) hasn’t helped my mood.

The only good news is that 34ha of Volume winter barley is now in store. It yielded 8.38t/ha at 18% moisture and 68kg/hl. The head loss was severe at the top of our hills, but we’ll stick with the variety, as this was the only problem, and can be blamed on the storm-delayed harvest.

I always enjoy looking for ways to add value to farm produce, and will shortly visit a farm in Scotland to investigate whether a batch dryer can be converted to produce small quantities of malt for local entrepreneurs.

They will be exporting a malt concentrate to the USA to be marketed as Saint Patrick’s Ale. Many challenging problems lie ahead if we are to produce a top quality product, but at least desk-bound civil servants won’t be involved.

Having reread what I have just written it looks as though the glass is still half full. There are always opportunities.

Mistake of the month: Could have been nasty accident. Hitched the hay kicker to toss out successfully-made second-cut haylage, but didn’t check if the safety latch was clipped in, or that the hydraulic leaver was in neutral and not in float. On turning into the yard the right-hand rotor unfolded itself. Luckily I noticed before doing damage. Don’t rush – be careful.

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