Farmer Focus: David Shepherdson is already looking to next year

We’ve barely got this crop in the ground and already our thoughts are turning to next year.

For us as tenants, the rent effectively removes the single farm payment from the balance sheet, and leaving ground fallow is simply not an option. Growing crops is the only way of earning one’s keep.

Next year we should reap the rewards of block-cropping. Our fields average 14 acres, which hinders progress with large machinery. So I’ve been playing with the rotation to try to get them grouped in larger blocks, to make harvesting more time-effective. We can’t afford to miss the hottest part of the day shifting the combine from field to field.

I enjoyed the day out at LAMMA. I’m not sure January is the best month for such an event in terms of the weather, but with plenty to look at undercover no-one really gets too wet.

It was purely a social occasion for me this year, the chequebook remaining safely locked away in the office. Instead of shopping for a new tractor or shiny teleporter, I’ve begrudgingly spent this year’s budget on fertiliser.

The UK companies are trying every trick in the book to keep their product at extortionately high prices, anxious that no-one will place early season orders again next year if they lower them now.

I’m hoping to get the imported cow muck led and spread onto spring barley land before drilling. I could do with some dry weather – or even better some hard frosts – to keep the roads clean during carting.

However, all clouds – even rain clouds – have a silver lining. We are taking a few days holiday to visit my sister-in-law, whose husband farms on the north coast of Scotland. So I look forward to seeing how they’re getting on north of the border.


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