Farmer Focus: David Shepherdson is itching to try new combine

I delayed writing this in the hope that there might have been be something to report on the harvesting front, now that the new combine has arrived and we have largely got to grips with all the buttons.

The winter barley was about ready to go if only there had been a little more heat in the sun we could have made a start.

We’ve finally bitten the bullet and mown all the hay, most of which goes into small bales for the horse trade. It should be excellent stuff if the weather holds.

Cropping will stay much the same next year, split roughly equally between wheat, barley and rape. A return to spring beans is on hold for now as I expect everyone will be growing them to try to lower fertiliser bills.

With nitrogen heading ever-closer to £400/t there will need to be another surge in cereal prices or perhaps we’ll see people turning to voluntary set-aside.

Fertiliser manufacturers should bear in mind that farmers are under no obligation to produce crops. We are quite entitled to leave our land fallow, which would leave their profits rather fallow.

A very enjoyable day was spent at the Great Yorkshire Show, the first time we’ve attended. I particularly liked to see that most machinery producers were bold enough to display price tags.

But our main reason for going was to establish some contacts in the livestock buildings. We have about 70 acres of permanent pasture which, till now, have been grazed solely by sheep.

This will all change this week when their new field-mates move in – six pedigree Highland heifers.

We’ve chosen these specifically for their hardiness for out-wintering with low input needs. I’m sure they will soon become a talking point in our small village of around 40 households.

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