Farmer Focus: Reflecting on 2023 with sadly few positives

I thought I would look back and review the past year. The positives are sadly few, but we did have a strong financial year, with the crops returning great margins.

We applied for the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and are awaiting the final checks before it becomes live on 1 January.

The wheat quality was superb, and we achieved large milling premiums on Group 2 crops that we only grow as feed.

See also: Pointers on rescuing waterlogged soils for spring barley

About the author

Robin Aird
Arable Farmer Focus writer Robin Aird manages 1500ha on the north Wiltshire and Gloucestershire border, with a further 160ha on a contract farming agreement. Soils vary from gravel to clay with the majority silty clay loams. The diverse estate has Residential, commercial and events enterprises. He is Basis qualified and advises on other farming businesses.
Read more articles by Robin Aird

The negatives. The obvious is the weather.

This was the wettest year since our records began. We still had a dry enough period during the growing season to reduce yield, hence the milling premiums.

The farm has looked awful since the spring when we had a deluge of rain post drilling, and we have had the same again this autumn. Spring decisions are going to be fun.

I have struggled with stress and anxiety this year through various factors outside my control (not the weather), but recognising these and dealing with them has put me in a much better place.

A year ago, I was in a dreadful place, but I am now once again surrounded by a great team who make life a joy and a pleasure to go to work.

It is so important to surround yourself with positive people and not toxic individuals in all walks of life.

Sadly, one of the team has been recently diagnosed with cancer and this member has worked on the farm for over 35 years.

I personally have worked with him for over 20 years, and we are all much closer than work colleagues.

We are like a family, and it affects the whole team when we get bad news like this.

The cancer is treatable, but not curable, so fingers crossed that it can be held for many years, if not decades.

The annual farm assurance inspection went well, with one minor fault, a hole in one of the side sheets in the grain store shed. The inspector walked in and spotted it immediately.

Historically, there was a conveyor that went through the gap and when this was removed, a piece of fibre cement sheet had been attached to cover the gap.

This had fallen off, but it was rectified by the end of the day, so relatively painless.

Finally, I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and may I wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year.

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