Farmer Focus: Crunching costs while isolating with Covid

What a fantastic autumn we have had, the rye and wheat have been planted into beautiful seed-beds and are flying out of the ground.

There is a little too much blackgrass in my rye for my liking, but that is what happens when you plant in September.

We have it under control and what is there will go up the spout before it sets seed.

See also: How one Devon farmer is succeeding with strip-till maize

About the author

Robin Aird
Arable Farmer Focus writer Robin Aird manages 1500 ha on the North Wiltshire and Gloucestershire border with a further 160ha on a contract farming agreement.  Soils vary from gravel to clay, with the majority silty clay loams. A diverse estate with residential, commercial and events enterprises. He is Basis qualified and advises on other farming businesses.
Read more articles by Robin Aird

As I have mentioned before, historically we would have moved all the ground ready for spring crops, but this year they are all covered in cover crops, and these are thriving.

We have a few thousand sheep lined up to come in shortly to start mowing them down.

In the middle of the foraging and drilling campaign I managed to get man flu, then Covid, so the combined gave me Batman Flu.

I was also one of the unlucky ones that had false negatives so I didn’t know if I was coming or going.

Isolating at home gave me the time to work out our costs of productions for this year. This is all our fixed costs and variable costs minus non-crop income, relative to the arable enterprise.

Basic payment is not taken into the calculation. Our spring wheat cost £101/t to grow, winter barley £100/t, winter wheat £87/t and maize £21/t.

These crops have historically hovered just under the £95/t for the past few years, so interesting to see inflation just making an impact.

The nitrogen will definitely have an effect on harvest 2023 if the price stays high.

We have been looking at carbon and biodiversity offsetting recently and had an interesting demonstration of Sandy by the Trinity AG tech team.

This is something we are hoping to try out and see where we can streamline our business and create another enterprise stream.

I am now off for a break with the family and looking forward to forgetting about the estate for 10 days while I refresh and revitalise myself ready for a winter of creativity and strategic planning.

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