Plans to stick with a three-year winter barley rotation

We finished harvesting on 23 September, with my contracting neighbour working three large combines flat-out cutting spring wheat. The crop itself was a disappointing 6.25t/ha.

This yield was, in common with our winter barley and winter wheat, 2.5t/ha lower than a conservative budget for an average year, and has slashed our expected returns by at least £30,000 despite the strong grain trade.

Ground conditions are the worst I have ever seen. On a year like this it’s good to have a young enthusiastic share farmer in the business; he has had a baptism of rain for his first year. Our plans for 2013 are to stick with our three-year rotation of winter barley, followed by winter wheat followed by a spring break crop.

Our part of Co Down recently suffered the most horrific farming accident imaginable. As a result of inhaling deadly sulphur dioxide gas, one family lost a father and two sons in a matter of minutes.

It is impossible to comprehend what their loved ones must be going through, and the repercussions for years to come.

Surely some type of warning device can be made available to protect those who are forced to comply with date-based regulations that give no allowance for weather variations.

When the forms that must be completed for any type of agricultural support carry page upon page of what will happen if you make an inaccurate declaration, we are left wondering whether the administrators are there to help or to prosecute. This only adds to the pressure.

This year will not be forgotten for the saddest of all reasons.

Allan Chambers farms 270ha of medium stony loam at Tullynaskeagh Farm, Tullynaskeagh, Co Down, with his nephew, growing cereals and maize

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