Farmer Focus: Has spring sprung or will winter return?

I am very pleased to report that since my last column not only did the Rural Payments Agency find the missing 175ha from our 2016 BPS claim, they also managed to pay our 2018 claim as well.

Very many thanks to the good folks at the RPA and the NFU BPS supremo for helping. Unfortunately now that the 2018 statement has arrived the whole process will have to start again.

This time it’s not quite so bad, only 27ha missing, still, another email that I could do without having to compile.

See also: Analysis: What a ban on fungicide chlorothalonil would mean

I can only assume that, as with the 2016 claim, some of the data was away being looked at elsewhere when the check was being completed.

There does seem to be a little glitch in the system that appears to remove fields when it shouldn’t, no doubt instigated by some software designer who works in a world of virtual reality.

Has spring sprung?

A vital question I have been pondering recently is have we had spring or are we, as last year, going to be very disappointed very soon?

Given the fantastic seed-beds that have been made over the last few weeks, should we get on and sow the sugar beet and crack on with other planting?

In my experience you must seize every opportunity while it’s there, he who hesitates is lost and all that.

That leads me into the recent gathering with a few of our northern neighbours, where we all decided to take the initiative and form the Breckland Farmers Wildlife Network.

As a group of like-minded farmers, we will work together to enhance the biodiversity of our beautiful Breckland surroundings, proactively managing our local environment to form links and corridors between us all, helping to join up and further support wildlife.

This will be done while continuing to farm in a sustainable and profitable way. It is envisaged that we will have a positive impact at landscape scale within the Brecks National Character area.

Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Enterprises include combinable and root crops, plus sugar beet. The estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship.

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