Richard Cobbald is farm manager for Wrest Wratting Park Estate near Cambridge. The 1300ha (3200 acres) of heavy clay to light sandy soils grow wheat, oilseed rape, sugar beet and spring barley.
As I write, it’s a typically English summer scene outside – it’s raining.
The oilseed rape, all combined, yielded reasonably well and left the farm on some well-priced contracts. The last couple of tidy-up loads, spot-priced in early August, fell below £290/t, but I would have happily taken that this time last year. So I’m pretty pleased with how this year has gone.
Today crude oil prices hit $119/barrel, which helped drag the rape price down, but fuel prices never seem to fall as quickly. Perhaps a windfall tax for the likes of BP might make them sit up in their luxurious leather office chairs and consider passing on some of their profits to us all. Am I in cloud cuckoo land?
The drop in oil prices has also flagged up the cost of nitrogen fertiliser. Have those of us who have bought it overpaid?
My hunch is that we haven’t for the following reasons: Today a tonne of granular urea in a bag is about £480. This is more to do with worldwide demand than the cost of gas to make it, so I think prices will stay high. The market also has to come back a long way to get to where it was when most of us bought the stuff anyway. Your comments are very welcome.
But it does feel more as if I have a stash of gold rather than fertiliser in my shed. So when mates ask: “Can I have a bit of fertiliser for my garden? It’s worth a drink,” it must surely be worth a night on the town now.
Hopefully, by the time this appears none of you will have time to read it, as combines and tractors race around the countryside, aircon units working overtime. Happy harvesting.