Farmer Focus Arable: Andrew Blenkiron drafts stewardship applications

Andrew Blenkiron manages a farm business near Witchampton in Dorset. Total farm is more than2000ha, of which 1500ha are combinable, including 530ha of organic crops. The remaining land area supports outdoor pigs, dairy cows, beef cattle, horses and stewardship.

It has certainly been an interesting spring. Even down here on the English Riviera, crops struggled through the winter, only to be met with a spring that entailed persistent cold nights, frost after frost, then no rain for eight weeks. I am sure that harvest yields are going to struggle to achieve average yields. That’s got the weather out of the way. I promise not to mention it agin too much.

Election fever gripped the country, but will the new regime bring any benefits to farming? The easy answer would be “no”, but let’s think about the opportunity that the present economic situation provides us with – less cash in the public sector, time to think smarter?

Why don’t we help DEFRA and its agencies cut costs – not only theirs, but ours as well. Is now the time to assess the real risk that we pose and reduce the burden of inspections, saving us all both time and money?

Can there be true responsibility sharing as well as cost-sharing? Well, only if we all help to make it happen!

In the office, progress has been made on our new ELS/HLS application, but will I manage to meet the targets? Will we, the industry achieve the national quota set by the Campaign for the Farmed Environment or will the industry let itself down? I think not, what with the present price of wheat and our previous experience, many of us will be looking again.

I know what is best for those poor fields, those wet corners, the areas shaded out by trees and hedges, the thought of a guaranteed income no matter how little has to be at least partially attractive. Far better that we set the agenda on these issues than have it dictated to us, after all we created and maintain the environment in which we live and work.

See you at Cereals, lots to look forward to there.

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