Farmer Focus: Winter oats the standout crop so far

Harvest started well this year with good weather and low moisture contents. However, winter barley was disappointing, which didn’t really surprise me.

It suffered badly from a very wet winter and spring, which affected establishment and tillering, and resulted in a thinner than normal crop, which only managed 7.5t/ha at 15% moisture.

Oilseed rape followed, with one field achieving 3.5t/ha, but the second one was very disappointing – again due to poor establishment.

See also: Oat market offers opportunity for farms in the right areas

Winter oats, however, lifted my spirits with 7.5t/ha at 15% and good quality. Straw, which is very valuable this year, has all been baled and snatched up by customers.

Unfortunately, the good weather has now left us, hopefully temporarily, so that I can move into wheat, which looks quite well, but I never like to get my hopes up until I am actually in the field. Spring crops will be into September.

Profitability and equality

I recently attended a couple of early morning Ulster Farmers’ Union meetings to consider our response to the Northern Ireland version of the Health and Harmony consultation.

Credit should go to our department of agriculture for trying to plan ahead for life after Brexit, particularly in the absence of a government here.

There are a lot of sensible proposals in the 68-page document, but my main concern is that ‘profitability’ is only mentioned twice and ‘equality’ not at all.

Productivity, resilience and environmental sustainability do not necessarily deliver acceptable profitability.

If we are to develop a sustainable agricultural policy going forward, it must be based on profitability and equality for the whole supply chain, not just parts of it.

If we can get that right, everything else will fall naturally into place. Another concern is that with no government in place here none of these proposals can be implemented.

Unfortunately, some of our politicians don’t seem to want government in NI to work while others don’t seem to understand the rules they are supposed to abide by, but all are happy to continue to receive hard-earned taxpayers’ money for doing next to nothing. This crazy situation has to stop.