Farmer Focus: Seed suppliers exploit the wet weather

It is with a sense of déjà vu that I write this. Apart from a couple of brief spurts since Christmas, not much drilling has taken place.

I have consequently taken the decision to stop drilling wheat and switch to spring barley.

I am glad I bought the bulk of my spring barley seed early on, as the price had risen by £20/t when I came back to add on additional tonnage.

See also: How to increase beneficial insects in arable crops

No profiteering going on at all by a large agricultural purchasing and supply business…

We now have a not-inconsiderable spring workload, with extra drilling to carry out alongside the usual cropping. However, I’m confident the team will rise to the challenge.

Escaping abroad

I managed to escape the gloom in January to visit New Zealand, a country high on my bucket list.

As well as the usual sightseeing, I wanted to create my own farm tour to see how things are done out there.

Having managed to get a few contacts before leaving, it started to snowball, resulting in a really interesting and informative trip.

The Kiwi farmers I met were all extremely welcoming and very open about their businesses.

In the course of a couple of weeks I managed to tour a wide variety of farms, covering everything from highland beef and sheep in the North Island through to large-scale dairying on irrigated grassland in the South, as well as vineyards, vegetable growing and seed production.

Along the way, I managed to see one or two machinery dealers and contractors, as well as spending a fairly inspirational day with Doug Avery, better known for his Resilient Farmer work.

There was much discussion about business structure, particularly within the larger ones, where more formal structures and business management practices were in place, often involving trusted non-family third parties.

I came away feeling there is nothing to fear from an unsubsidised production environment, provided you are able to survive the change in the first instance.

This is something that should not be underestimated. The secret to success would seem to depend on adaptability.

It’s not what you have, but what you do with it, and how you react to the market opportunities around you that are important.

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