Farmer Focus : Mark Ireland 19/11/04

THERE IS a bit more of a relaxed atmosphere on the farm now, mainly because we are drilled up and fairly well done with spraying.

There is always something to do, but it is a pleasant position, especially as there seems to be a reasonable area of unfinished winter drilling throughout the country.

Sugar beet lifting continues to keep us ticking over with what can only be described as a colossal yield for our soil type.

To the beginning of November, we were averaging 63t/ha (25.5t/acre) adjusted with a sugar content of 17.5% and total tare 13%.

I’m sure there is a correlation between beet size and crown tare, and even though we are delivering little green top the crown percentage is averaging 9%.

With projected yields, an estimated 130% of quota is on the cards. Bearing in mind most of this is down to high root weight and not sugar, our haulier will be well pleased; but it does put a massive onus on British Sugar to keep its factories running at full capacity.

With only 25% of land cleared so far, there is a long way to go.

A wet afternoon helped me complete our Crop Protection Management Plans for the year, along with one each for two contract farms. Some 1400ha (3460 acres) have now been registered to try to bolster a fairly lacklustre start in pursuit of this year’s CPMP target.

I also read that only 10,000 of the 18,000 operators registered under NRoSO have a point to their name.

I struggle to accept the view of growers who argue there is little value in conforming because we will get a pesticide tax anyway.

We don’t have one yet and with it potentially costing us an estimated £7500 a year, I’d rather spend a little time doing paperwork and updating our training.