Farmer Focus: Trumping, chatting and farmer protests

At 8am on 1 March one of my local farming friends immediately announced on our WhatsApp group that it was the wettest February he had measured on the farm since he started in 1987.

This trumped my wettest since we’d started in 1998.

A few days later, the newspapers trumped us both, as it was in fact the wettest in the South East since records began in 1836.

See also: Zero-till v plough: Differences in soil structure and carbon

About the author

Andrew Barr
Arable Farmer Focus writer
Andy Barr farms 700ha in a family partnership in Kent. Combinable crops amount to about 400ha and include milling wheat and malting barley in an increasingly varied rotation. He also grazes 800 Romney ewes and 40 Sussex cattle and the farm uses conservation agriculture methods.
Read more articles by Andrew Barr

I am lucky that I have put my outcrop of Weald clay into various Countryside Stewardship scheme options and have been grabbing a day here and there to get on the chalkier and sandier fields.

Don’t worry, the latter will bite me on the backside when the inevitable summer drought appears.

It was great to meet up with friends and suppliers (not always mutually exclusive) at the Farm Expo show at the Kent County showground recently, and the healthy attendance was no doubt helped by the wet land, but dry overhead conditions.

What was really noticeable was the first thing I saw on entering the show wasn’t a 500hp tractor, but a big sign about how I can put biodiversity net gain features in place.

What’s more, the first stand I visited told me all about local nature recovery strategies (they were giving away chocolate bars).

This inevitably led the farmer chat to the local demonstrations in Dover, Ashford and Canterbury.

One colleague told a story of driving onto a motorway in France recently only to be met with a wall of bales completely blocking it, and then another of Belgian farmers spraying police with slurry and smashing police lines with snow ploughs.

I just can’t understand how they get away with it or why it doesn’t make the news more here.

I do understand what the government means when it says it will “monitor food security closely”, and I sincerely hope this doesn’t bite us all on the backside in the future.

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