Farmer Focus: Wheat crop blighted by a crop circle

This year will not be one that is quickly forgotten. The abnormal summer heatwave has switched crops off early, undoubtedly compromising yields, but compensated by favourable and rapid harvesting conditions.

We have changed to a New Holland 8.90 combine this year. This is our first combine on tracks, adopted as part of our measures to help alleviate soil compaction as well as making road journeys easier.

We also hope to see improved outputs and better grain samples to justify the large investment. For the first time we will now also have full yield-mapping data to improve ongoing agronomic decision-making.

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

The dry conditions have made me acutely conscious of fire risks and meticulous machinery cleaning, water bowsers in fields and fire extinguishers in tractors are essential.

Focusing on straw

Pre-harvest glyphosate use will be minimal as the sunshine is doing the work for us. I’m always looking for opportunities to reduce chemical inputs.

Instead of spending time drying crops hopefully we can also be baling extra straw. Arable farmers need to be mindful of the urgent needs of the livestock sector as an impending forage crisis looms.

It is reassuring to see grain markets reacting positively to global supply and demand trends with hiked prices which should compensate lower yields.

Regrettably, a large crop circle was recently pushed into our most valuable wheat crop. I considered this activity an act of vandalism and immediately cut out the affected area.

I do appreciate the interest in crop circles creates a seasonal boost to local tourism but I will not co-operate with the clandestine, indiscriminate attitudes of those feeding off our backs to promote their selfish livelihoods. 

Empty shelves

The Chequers summit seems to have hatched yet another muddled solution to the Brexit predicament. How can we possibly agree to align to a common EU rulebook while simultaneously having no say on how those rules evolve?

How can a divergent domestic agricultural policy give a level playing field with European farmers still under CAP oversight?

There is an irony the UK skytips 388m tonnes of carbon dioxide annually and yet has suffered supply shortages for food and drink manufacturing.

Combined with the consequences of the drought inevitable empty supermarket shelves should sharpen minds on the fragilities and vulnerabilities of our complex food chain – no bad thing.