Farmer Focus: Martin Lawrenson, January column

As a new Farmer Focus contributor I feel slightly nervous about sharing my experiences.

I‘m always surprised by, and maybe a little jealous of reports of yields and marketing strategies that achieve great results. Around here it sometimes feels that we stumble from one problem to another, making important decisions using nothing more than guesswork and gut instinct.

One decision we might have got right this year is our fertiliser buying. After purchasing most of what we need in October, I was relieved when a different supplier quoted higher prices in December, with more price increases imminent.

Only last week I heard Gordon Brown say that inflation is under control at 2.1%. Obviously he isn’t living in the same world as we are, as prices have risen at well over that rate for most of our essential commodities this year.

Diesel, electricity, seeds, fertiliser and beer have all risen by at least 10% – and in some cases more.

On the crops front, we have been doing our usual bit for wildlife conservation.

Our winter wheat and barley seem to be the ideal habitat for local pigeon, geese, slug and rabbit populations and have suffered as a result. But with the arrival of warmer weather I am optimistic that they should grow into at least half decent crops.

I can’t say that I am particularly sorry to see the back of 2007. The worst June and July weather I can remember, coupled with a fire that destroyed two barns in November, presented us with real challenges.

But we are still here, and one of the best things about this time of year is that you do start to look forward to the promise of the season ahead. Maybe we will get it right this time.

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