Farmer Focus: Costs up, subsidies down, and extreme weather

This has been the driest wet harvest for a long time, with unripened crops and damp, non-drying days.

We had a grand total of just 19mm of measurable rainfall in the whole of August here in Cambridge which made for a frustrating and challenging season.

Overall, yields have been disappointing compared with how crops looked earlier in the year, but on the plus side they have been good quality which evens things up a little.

See also: How one farmer tackled invasive grassweed rat’s tail fescue

About the author

Matt Redman
Farmer Focus writer
Matt Redman farms 370ha just north of Cambridge and operates a contracting business specialising in spraying and direct-drilling. He also grows cereals on a small area of tenancy land and was Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year in 2014.
Read more articles by Matt Redman

The standout crop has definitely been Chilham spring wheat, direct drilled with the Dale drill on heavy land. Second place goes to Laurette spring barley which made malting specification.

With no oilseed rape this coming year I am having another go with winter linseed, beans as usual, and possibly peas on some lighter land.

Winter linseed combining has caused a few headaches for some, but luckily my experience with the Axial Flow was a good one, with little trouble other than trying to go slightly too late at night and wrapping around some reel tines.

I’m looking forward to getting last year’s wheat seed out of the shed and in the ground in the next few weeks. The big question is how long do I hold my nerve and be patient before I risk it still being there next year?

The past year, or even two, have placed some huge strains and challenges on farming with the extremes of weather and knock-on effects of covid restrictions.

Unfortunately, I don’t think we are out of the woods. Recent haulage issues have highlighted the cracks within farm infrastructure and the knock on effect to businesses this brings.

Add to this the already rapidly increasing input, machinery, labour and repair costs, whilst subsidies are reducing and the likelihood of further weather extremes, it doesn’t make farming sound that much fun or enjoyable for the next few years.

To add some positivity back into this piece I also think there are going to be a lot of new opportunities, but to take them some fairly major changes may have to be made to adapt and make the most of them.

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