Farmer Focus: Maltsters and distillers seek carbon efficiency

For a spell in May we had better weather, with successive dry days allowing drilling to be completed and barley to emerge quickly as soils warmed up. 

Grain prices were rising, crops and grass were growing quickly and cattle were turned out. Everything was looking good. 

Fast forward a few weeks and we seem to have returned to winter, with low temperatures and a north wind bringing a lot of cloud cover and showers.  

See also: Cereals 2024: Novel project seeks to find UK chickpea variety

About the author

Robert Drysdale
Arable Farmer Focus writer
Robert Drysdale is farm manager at Monymusk Estate, growing winter and spring barley, wheat and oilseed rape across 1600ha on 4 contract farming agreements to the south of Inverurie in Aberdeenshire. The farm also has 130 beef cows running on land that is less suitable for crop production with the majority of calves being finished on the farm.
Read more articles by Robert Drysdale

We took advantage of a few good days at the start of June to make our silage. This was much earlier than normal and it has paid off, with the pits full of what should be good quality, dry silage. 

Arable crops are generally looking well, given the season, and just need sufficient radiation to fulfil their potential.

This will be my last Farmers Weekly column, after eight years which have gone by in a flash. Many things have changed, including business ownership, some staff changes and the ownership of one of the farms that we manage.

Day-to-day, it can often feel like we are doing the same as eight years ago, but hopefully we are always learning and doing things a bit better and more efficiently. 

A big change has been the shift in policies and thinking, to focus on carbon and environmental matters.

An exciting development at present is the interest that our customers, particularly maltsters and distillers, are focusing on carbon efficiency and looking to assist in measuring and reducing the carbon cost of production. 

Hopefully, this continues as a mutually beneficial partnership.

I have recently embraced social media as a business tool, creating a Facebook page as a way of connecting and attracting seasonal staff. 

Pictures of shiny equipment have generated a staggering 23,000 views, which hopefully will translate into sufficient interest to get two harvest staff.

I am just about to head off for a few days in England, with a visit to the Highland Show on the way back. 

I am looking forward to a few days away and seeing how crops are looking as I travel down the country. 

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