Farmer Focus: Drought turns light eastern soils to dust

Well, it is certainly dry here in the East. Cereals on the lightest land will struggle to make any form of comeback now, even if it rains for the rest of the summer.

Still, in my quest to always find a positive, they will not take long to combine. Soil conditions can at best be described as dust.

Indeed, when I got the spade out and dug down, I didn’t find any form of moisture and after 1.5m I lost the energy and enthusiasm to go much deeper.

Besides that, our dear, 17-year-old Staffie Missie didn’t need to be laid to rest much deeper than that.

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

There is certainly a big void on the front seat next to me when I check the cows in the mornings now – it really is amazing how understanding animals can be.

Anyway, the irrigators have certainly been busy on the root crops. Thankfully the reservoirs will be able to keep these higher-value crops adequately supplied for this summer. Let’s hope the markets reflect the extra effort and cost.

It is that exciting time of year when many of us get the opportunity to visit the world-renowned Cereals event, county shows and other farms.

At all of these we get the chance to learn from one another, share information and generally have a fantastic time.

This year, here at Euston, we will get the opportunity to host a number of farm visits. This will include farmers, school children and members of the public.

I do hope things green up a bit before they start to arrive.

Future-gazing

I am privileged to have been asked to help judge the Norfolk County Farm Business competition, ably assisted by one of my old mates from Harper Adams.

Given that it’s 30 years since we left, it makes me think quite a bit about the future, never mind the past – what will the next 30 years bring?

Well, possibly at least 20 government ministers responsible for agriculture, or could we be at the tipping point when we will find someone who really wants the job, knows about farming and is really passionate about our futures?

I do hope so, because to ensure we are well represented, we will need a real long-term fighter – someone who can help sell our produce not only at home, but in the rest of the world.


Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Principal farm enterprises are combinable and root crops, including sugar beet. In addition the estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship.

NOVEMBER
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