Farmer Focus Arable: Conacre row mars a good autumn for Allan Chambers

We are currently enjoying the most wonderful spell of autumn weather I have ever experienced in 45 years of farming.

By publication date the only thing left to drill will be wheat following less-than-average crops of forage maize. Yields of this crop were reduced by my poor cultivation techniques before spring drilling.

Next year we will deep cultivate following the plough and then power harrow. Maize cannot handle any compaction – but then I knew that. An expensive reminder to take a bit more time and do the job correctly.

Final wheat yields averaged an overall 10.83t/ha at 17% moisture. Considering the way they were mucked in last November I should be satisfied, but greed is a serious affliction.

In Northern Ireland we are approaching the conacre letting season. Non-farming land owners (30% of the land area) receive uneconomic rent from farmers for a 364-day period. The Inland Revenue treat these landlords as “farmers” and their beneficiaries gain exemption from inheritance tax if their surplus wealth is invested via this loop hole, ie land.

This encourages the rich to buy farm land and consequently forces prices up to approximately twice that of other UK regions. This is bad for farming, especially young expansion-minded farmers. Sadly all the current elected representatives and lobby groups are pressing for this concession to continue. It is obvious that they have a vested interest, and distressing that their greed over-rules their ability to see what is best for NI working farmers plc.

This statement will irk many but I hope it may give rise to constructive debate on the issue. Many share my views.

Finally, millet – it’s still standing, looking good and should be combined within a week.

Mistake of the month: Caught the drill marker on the hedge again, it took four flattened fencing posts to break the shear bolt but fortunately no metal was bent.

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