Farmer Focus: Neil Thomson, March column

Things are beginning to look as though we are in for a bit of action in the fields shortly.

I hope to get the beans in soon, rolled and sprayed within a few days. But I was horrified when the agronomist sent his herbicide recommendation, to see that the bill has increased tenfold to nearly £40/ha thanks to simazine’s withdrawal.

So, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself after I calculated that our investment in precision application of phosphate and potash has really paid off this year. That was until I realised that I hadn’t ordered all the nitrogen I need for our grassland. Ouch!

We all know that these and other costs of production are spiralling ever northwards. So I’m pleased that our local market for malting barley, and just as importantly some of its customers, have becoming increasingly aware of this and are taking practical steps to ensure that growers are rewarded properly for the product we supply them with.

After all, they have invested heavily and have no plan B if they do not get the barley to put through their plant. So I believe we should support their initiative and learn to trust them again.

Being the local SAC Monitor farmer is really putting the spotlight on our business. Sometimes I wish we could disappear again, because there really is no place to hide.

But I am enjoying the discussions that arise at the meetings, particularly when we focus on practical issues that can have an enormous effect on an enterprise.

We will be foolish not to use this chance to strengthen our core business, and I wish the same for other farmer members, too, for that is the purpose of the Monitor Farm project.

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