Jon Parker catches up on his ditch clearing


Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you all had a good Christmas and Santa was kind to you. As a family we had a great Christmas with some wonderful gifts especially the extra half a stone that I really didn’t need. Farming wise, he was very kind as our SFP was paid on 1 December and the Environment Agency allowed us to start abstracting water from the river to winter fill our reservoirs.

Back to reality now and thanks to the more sensible quantities of rain that we have received. The land drains are finally running which has allowed us to continue our annual ditch cleaning programme safe in the knowledge that the water is flowing the right way. Two more winters and we will have cleaned them all out. I have been here 10 years and getting the basics of land drainage sorted out has transformed the farm.

The mild and damp weather has also kept crops growing and allowed patchy second wheats to even up and reach decent growth stages should the temperature suddenly drop. Blackgrass is now at the two true leaf stage and if it dries up we will look to get the Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) on if the temperatures remain where they are.

Grass is also growing at a fair rate and with lambing only a month away we should have a good bite available at turnout.

At the time of writing, I am about to go to the Oxford Farming Conference by kind invitation of Strutt and Parker. I haven’t been to this event before, but as the OFC chairman Cedric Porter states, the role of farming has never been more important in terms of food production, stimulating economic activity and protecting the planet.

Jon Parker manages 1,500ha, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, on a medium to heavy land, for Ragley Home Farms, predominantly arable growing wheat, oilseed rape, and salad onions. There is also a beef fattening unit and sheep flock.

For more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers, see our dedicated page.

Futures contracts: farmer views wanted

Do you use futures and options markets to help you manage risk? Or are you interested to learn more? Farmers Weekly is keen to find out the extent to which UK farmers use these markets. Complete our survey here.

Take the survey

Futures markets and commodity risk management online course:

  • Risk management strategies for a more predictable financial performance
  • Educated conversations when collaborating with your advisors
  • Negotiate better prices with your grain merchants

View course

Using contractors saves you time and money. Now you can book, track and pay all in one place. Register for early access today.

Find out more
See more