Farmer Focus: Machinery costs are becoming unaffordable

Happy new year, everyone! I think most are hiding around a corner, tentatively poking a stick at 2022 to see if it bites.

The past two years have been topsy-turvy and caused immeasurable stress for families and businesses. Hopefully, the new year heralds the beginning of a return to some sense of normality.

With the tidal wave of Omicron washing across the globe, let’s hope this is Covid-19’s last shot at us all.

About the author

David Clark
Farmer Focus writer
David Clark runs a 463ha fully irrigated mixed farm with his wife Jayne at Valetta, on the Canterbury Plains of New Zealand’s south island. He grows 400ha of cereals, pulses, forage and vegetable seed crops, runs 1,000 Romney breeding ewes and finishes 8,000 lambs annually.
Read more articles by David Clark

See also: 5 high-tech advances that could change arable farming

Here in Valetta, we have had a wet December with limited irrigation required, so we got a chance to sneak away for five days with our boys to Lake Benmore, where we enjoyed time out on the water, skiing and picnicking. It was neat to get away and relax after what had been a very busy year.

We hit the ground running on our return. We had the site works to do on a straw shed and a crew to build it for us before harvest.

Holdups with supplies and availability of construction firms meant we were “last-minute Nellies”, but it will be great to no longer have straw under tarps.

The crops look well after a wet, late spring. A lack of sunshine hours may affect some flowering crops, but it looks as if the weather has now turned dry, so harvest looks promising at this point.

Our costs are rapidly escalating, as they are, no doubt, for farmers in the UK. While our product prices have lifted, they have not kept pace, so profitability is losing ground.

That worries me for two reasons. The cost of machinery is rising rapidly, to the point of becoming unaffordable.

Secondly, if the euphoria around commodity prices evaporates, as it did in 2008, it is very hard to wind back our cost structures.

There is a lot to look forward to in 2022. Most of all, let’s hope it is the beginning of a return to normal. 

Farmers Weekly Awards 2022

Enter or nominate now

Farmers Weekly Awards 2022

Enter or nominate now

Futures markets and commodity risk management online course:

  • Risk management strategies for a more predictable financial performance
  • Educated conversations when collaborating with your advisors
  • Negotiate better prices with your grain merchants

View course

Using contractors saves you time and money. Now you can book, track and pay all in one place. Register for early access today.

Find out more