Farmer Focus: Wet weather delays autumn work

Sadly, there has been little improvement in the weather here since my last piece. I think it was 1985 when we last experienced such a continuous spell of wet weather. I still have 80 acres of straw lying rotting in fields and the establishment of winter cereals has been very difficult.  

Our only option has been to hire in another tractor and plough on the few slightly better days and tuck the drill tightly in behind.

This is an extra expense that we didn’t need. We were really only able to get on the land in the last week of October and I don’t want to go past the 5 Nov as it is just too late for this part of the country.

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

The net result is that I will be down 100 acres on last year, which will now have to go into spring crops, and I have always found it difficult to achieve an acceptable return with them.

Such are the challenges of farming and the story is very similar across Northern Ireland.

There is an amount of straw to save, which is in high demand, many fields of potatoes to gather and, indeed, some third cut silage to bring in, but ground conditions in some places are so bad that machinery simply can’t travel.

Good news

One good piece of news is that 70% of my EU “benefit cheque” arrived a couple of weeks ago! It was most welcome, made a brief visit to my bank and then moved into the accounts of various grateful creditors!

That this occurred at all given that we have not had a functioning Assembly for almost a year is rather surprising and begs the question why we need all those members of the legislative assembly at all.

With all the challenges facing our industry and the huge investment and hours that we put in producing quality food for the country, I find it annoying, offensive even, that we are continuing to pay politicians public money to do nothing just because they can’t agree a way forward or simply don’t want government in Northern Ireland to work at all. 


Robert Moore farms on the Molenan Estate in Northern Ireland, where his family have farmed for more than 200 years. He switched to arable production in the late 1990s, away from beef and sheep. He still has a small suckler herd on non-suitable arable land.