Farmer Focus Arable: Philip Bradshaw ponders NFU elections

Frost may well be my friend after all. Earlier in the year I wasn’t sure. The freezing temperatures were potentially damaging my clamped sugar beet, and slowed my progress filling the reservoirs with winter storage water for irrigation next summer.

However, the recent plunging temperatures failed to stop the pumps. The beet is all but gone and the couple of nights of dry frost allowed us to drill our last field of winter wheat on the light land at Whittlesey.

This block of ex-beet land was not waterlogged – it had been less than ideal for drilling since ploughing in December.

But a quick pass of our Vaderstad Carrier with tines in made a great job of making a frosty but good seedbed, ideal for the Rapid drill on the next chilly morning.

Historically, we have sometimes made slightly better margins from March drilled spring wheat after late harvested root crops. But the logistical issue of block harvesting means a winter drilled crop that should harvest with the rest of the farm is more convenient – a necessary concession to increasing efficiency and reducing cost.

It’s more than six years since I reluctantly stepped away from office within the NFU due to time constraints after working through the ranks to become one of the youngest county chairmen at that time.

Although I recognise the NFU isn’t perfect and must evolve as an organisation, I firmly believe that my subscription is money well spent, and I have been considering the forthcoming national officeholder elections.

While acknowledging that some would like a more active role in the election proceedings, I’m happy that the two Cambridgeshire NFU Council representatives will take on the responsibility of voting later in the month, and have of course expressed to them my view on the preferred outcome!

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