Farmer Focus Arable: Andrew Charlton’s dropped ‘risky’ potatoes

The last month has been dominated by an intensive leadership and innovation for agriculture course run over two blocks of three days.

We were challenged to think about at the way the industry will look in 2020 and beyond. The key messages were that co-operation between farms to offer the best possible products to the supply chain would be essential to ensure more value was captured at farm level; that deliveries and quality needed to be consistent; and that the additional costs of adding value to the customer could be borne by sharing costs.

In addition UK agriculture, working with scientists, government and suppliers to the industry, must get serious about reducing our greenhouse gas emissions as we are “punching above our weight” by emitting a greater percentage of the UK’s greenhouse gases than our share of the economy.

Everyone knows about carbon dioxide and methane as sources of global warming, but I didn’t know nitrous oxide was much more potent as a greenhouse gas.

At least farming issues are now much higher up the political agenda as demonstrated by the government’s new Food 2030 strategy. As ever these documents contain much on defining problems and setting goals and little on delivering. My guess is that will be left to us.

Back on the farm life is quieter than usual as the decision has been taken, or rather the decision was taken for me, to drop potatoes from the rotation. For a small business such as this one the financial risks were becoming suicidal.

As a parting thought, the political parties will be looking for spin doctors for the coming election; perhaps they should look at the potato industry where such skills are rife. As for me, I’ve been “spun” to enough.

• For more from Andrew Charlton click here.

• For our other Farmer Focus Arable writers click here.

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