Farmer Focus: Combining makes way for hangover, says Will Howe

What a season! The writing was on the wall when every time I ventured out to desiccate the oilseed rape it rained.

I’m more fortunate than most, with only 16ha of wheat and all the beans left to cut. But this is scant consolation, especially when I took the hardest decision a farmer can make – choosing between a best friend’s wedding, or one last shift to finish combining.

I opted for the hangover and am pleased I did. There’ll be many more harvests and I couldn’t let a friend down.

Having done about 50% of the combining in the dark, thoughts of bigger machines have re-entered my head. But how would I cope with the extra output?

Elementary my dear Watson – bigger trailers and sheds, more men and more tractors. It’s just a shame the drop in grain price may have rendered this a pipe dream.

After taking self-demotion to grain store manager/cart-man from the monotony of combine driver to free up labour for cultivations, it struck me how inefficient agriculture can be.

As regularly as night meets day, my neighbour’s cart passed mine. He was hauling wheat one way – and I the other down the same road for roughly the same distance. Perhaps infrastructure collaboration ought to be mentioned more, not just machinery.

Our sheds are brimming and we await lorries to shift wet grain for drying and storage. I don’t know if the lorry shortage is a sign of the economic downturn, but it’s certainly causing problems selling off the combine.

Thoughts are turning to how to sow oilseed rape on ground that’s been worked but now resembles a saturated sponge.

The only answer is patience and the misguided belief that the weather can’t get any worse. The fertiliser spinner may yet be called out.

See more