FARMER FOCUS: Green light to move the newts

This year has been all about licences so far. It started with us being granted a licence from Natural England to catch and remove the great crested newts (my slippery, smooth-coated little pals) from the site of our proposed reservoir, so we are certainly looking forward to putting up the 2,000m of fencing – special newt fencing, mind you – digging in the 300 little buckets to catch them in and checking them every day for a couple of months.

Thankfully the pain of all of that has been eased by the fact we have recently been awarded a DEFRA Regional Economy Grant (REG) to assist us not only in the building of this structure, but also to help us to extend our underground irrigation main. What a result.

Also on the subject of licences, I have just been awarded a personal licence. No, not to farm (perish the thought), but a licence that allows me to sell alcohol. Most useful for those planned little diversification projects such as festivals, weddings and anything that brings the public in and their hard-earned cash. So if anyone needs a barman, just give me a call. There is yet more paperwork to complete to get the premises licence, with lots of restrictions about what you can and can’t do.

Back out on the land, the sugar beet harvest is reaching its conclusion, with yields much as expected – well below the five-year average. Thankfully, conditions have been exceptionally mild and the crop has lifted and kept well. As always at this time, the best thing to do is to look forward to the next crop, which won’t be far away.

There is lots of excitement regarding the NFU at the moment, not only about the imminent elections for the office holders, but about our very own Sam Summers, assistant farm manager here at Euston, who has raised his head above the parapet and put his name forward for election onto the NFU sugar board. He is a highly capable 28 year old, just what all of us middle-aged (old) men involved with the NFU need.

Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Principal farm enterprises are combinable and root crops, including sugar beet. In addition the estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship.

(Read more from Andrew Blenkiron)

(Read more from all our Arable Farmer Focus writers)