Farmer Focus: Sowing conditions worst ever for Allan Chambers

Never have I drilled cereals in worse conditions. It’s getting late, and every day we hope for dry weather which doesn’t come – so we’re pressing on regardless.

Very wet parts have been puddled through, and three or four acres will have to be redrilled if it ever dries up.

Winter barley was completed last week and half the wheat, all Alchemy, is in. Rolling, essential on our stony ground, has been impossible, but this can be done later.

A poor year for potatoes has led to a rethink by two aging, farming brothers. Lack of young blood coming on will mean reducing our involvement in this crop. But hopefully spuds will continue to be grown here given successful negotiations with others.

I update cash flow projections monthly and the grain price collapse has wiped £50,000 off the income side. Next year’s costs show an increase of £15,000, mainly on fertilisers, so it’s going to be a poor year. Tax increases, to bail out incompetent bankers, will not bother us – there won’t be any to pay.

The proposal to incinerate £10m worth of broiler litter in the Province defies logic. By my calculations using RB209 guidelines, the arable area in Northern Ireland, which is only 10% of the total farm land, could use all this organic fertiliser to replace imported artificials.

Naively, I had thought that devolved government would bring commonsense to problems, but sadly lack of vision may win.

Mistake of the month: Drilling through mud resulted in a couple of blocked spouts. How much was missed isn’t yet clear, but no doubt the long-necked brigade driving slowly in their big jeeps, will tell me all about the number of rabbit runs and potential yield lost. Most of them won’t have drilled an acre in their lives.

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