Farmer Focus: Inspiration needed to maximise future returns

I write this feeling somewhat footsore and weary having spent three days at the Royal Cornwall Show.

I always feel lucky to be involved in a small way with a show that manages to maintain such a strong agricultural bias at its core.

It‘s good to have so many local and national businesses exhibiting there and to have the opportunity for effective business and technical discussions as well as enjoying the social side.

I hesitated from finalising my crop planning for harvest 2016 until after I had been to Cereals.

With the current combinable crop market outlook being less than rosy it is a question of what best to do in order to maximise potential returns.

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

In some ways I am looking for some inspiration, but in practice I feel that I have little choice other than to stick with the current crop mix and aim for the best technical performance.

I made a number of variety changes last year, having only made limited changes in the previous two or three years, so I was interested to see what the experts made of the choices for drilling this autumn.

Ultimately, the proof will come at harvest, but I want to have a significant proportion of my new seed sourced prior to that.

Back on the farm it seems quiet, but the start of a large workload is looming so it is important to keep the momentum going.

Daffodil bulb lifting has started. We lift the bulbs and windrow them for a week or two to start the drying process.

The best way of drying the bulbs is a good breeze and sunshine, but we can’t rely on that in Cornwall so an effective alternative is needed.

We manage the process by picking up the windrowed bulbs with a converted potato harvester, run them over a cleaning line to remove stones and clods before boxing them up in tonne bins.

The bins are stacked against a letterbox drying wall where they are blown continuously for around a week at around 3C above the ambient temperature.

Jeremy Oatey manages 1,100ha of arable land near Plymouth in Cornwall and is 2013 Farmers Weekly Arable Farmer of the Year. Cropping includes wheat, barley, OSR, oats, beans, potatoes, onions, swedes and daffodils.


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