Farmer Focus: Richard Cobbald February column

In November I visited New Zealand, where my brother farms on the Canterbury Plains, which made me realise what it must be like to be valued as a farmer and food producer.

Kiwi farmers are the backbone of society there. They laugh at the thought of someone telling them what to do with their land, and are really benefiting from a no-subsidy system –so it seems.

They are also hugely efficient, with every aspect of their farms seemingly pushed to the limits.

Huge dairy units are springing up everywhere, with arable land converted and trees making way for grass.

It was fascinating to see and such a contrast to the UK and the way our farmers and industry are perceived and dictated to.

It was a great trip, but I’m not sure that the line “you are the eighth best rugby team in the world“went down very well in the local pub.

I‘ve been at West Wratting only four months, and have spent three weeks of that time on holiday. So I’m still very much finding my feet on the estate –as well as bringing on board a new agronomist.

I now have two very fit dogs, as I take them with me on my walks across every inch of ground to get the feel of the place.

The crops were all sown well in the autumn and have had pre-emergence sprays.

They look good, though we are just starting to see blackgrass appearing. Soon the sprayer will be ready to roll, with Atlantis treatment top of the jobs list.

Selling produce is proving more interesting, being a case of trying to predict where the top of the market will be. It seems to me, as I write, that we may not have got there yet.

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