Farmer Focus: New hedges desecrated by car-driving vandal

Winter crops on the whole look well coming into the spring – whenever that arrives. Later-drilled wheat has had a second low dose of nitrogen to encourage tillering.

Winter barley also had nitrogen and sulphur for its second dose.

Weed flush is slow this year, with fields looking clean overall, regardless of whether a pre- or post-emergence herbicide was applied or not.

See also: How a grower achieved best margin with £105/ha fungicide spend

It was nice to welcome second year ag students from Hartbury College to the farm to look at crop agronomy using the Linking Environment and Farming integrated farm management principles.

I picked a few scenarios they might face one day, and explored different options on how to respond.

I started with moving away from a reliance on inputs and encouraging in-house training so they can make their own decisions.

We have spent some time recently looking at how prepared our farming business is for the future and what that may look like over differing time frames.

I attended the Andersons seminar in Salisbury, which is always a good update, and this year it came at the perfect time.

Some of the challenges we are being asked to respond to as an industry will have implications, so we have spent time scenario-testing this within our business.

Cost of inputs

What is shocking and will force farms to change direction is the unjustified increase in cost of production and equipment.

Looking back and comparing the price of chemical and fertiliser inputs, as well as tractors, today with figures from 10 years ago is frightening.

We have 700 ewes in the shed and lambing is due to start in early April. It is probably my favourite time of the year, although the window for establishing spring crops is getting smaller.

We have planted 5,000 more hedge plants this February, which has had a big effect on the approach to the farm, but I can’t quite understand why someone would drive up onto the bank and drive more than 250m just to cause damage. We have now had to replace it all.

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