Farmer Focus Arable: Allan Chambers records good barley yields this harvest

Winter barley harvest has been completed with excellent quality grain and straw.

Our one field of Suzuka yielded 8.5t/ha, but the six-row Volume did 9.65t/ha, both at 17% moisture. Straw yield was similar at 4.5t/ha and with 220kg bales sold at £22 each ex field, this adds £450/ha to the sales value. Today’s quote for barley ex farm is £145/t, so our budget figure should be well exceeded.

Our stubbles are virtually weed free due to excellent control with Liberator(flufenacet + diflufenican). They are never expensive when they give 100% control.

At last, the debate on CAP reform has started in Northern Ireland. With our average Single Farm Payment at €360/ha (£300), we are the highest of the UK regions. However, our dynamic hybrid system contains a flat rate portion of €78/ha (£65), currently being claimed mainly by landlords.

If the EU decrees a shift to a flat rate (varying only on land classification), our landlords – most of whom reinvest none of their exorbitant rents back into the agricultural economy – are set to see immense increases in their SFP.

All EU taxpayers’ money must go to those who farm the land as opposed to those who own the land. The UK farming unions are agreed that the “active farmer” should be the beneficiary, but how do we define “active”? I would be happy to endure another layer of red tape if it meant the monies went into farmers’ accounts. At least they have control over the rental values that they are prepared to pay. The debate will run on. Meanwhile, I have a harvest to save.

Mistake of the month: We broadcast stubble turnips into standing winter barley. I did not realise that because we used Liberator that the turnips are unlikely to germinate despite the suitable weather. A waste of time, money and effort.

• For more columns from Allan Chambers

• For more columns from other Arable Farmer Focus writers

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