Spares delivery delay prompts Will Howe machine switch

Will Howe farms 384ha (950 acres) of medium to heavy land at Ewerby Thorpe Farm, near Sleaford, Lincs, growing wheat, oilseed rape and winter beans.

Mankind’s messaging and goods delivery has evolved over centuries from marathon runner, carrier pigeon and packhorses to email, text messages and lunatics in white vans. How, then, can it take three weeks for a £27 seal kit to make the journey from France to Lincolnshire?

This level of service would not be tolerated in any other industry, so I’ve voted with my feet. Come July there will be a shiny new sprayer in the yard made by a local manufacturer. That allows me, when things go wrong, to tear to the factory in the truck and then use my best French to get the problem sorted.

Only in the paper today, it was alleged that our perfectly competent Prime Minister is reassessing his priorities over the food versus fuel debate. This can only be win-win for arable farmers. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for our livestock brethren, if the PM follows the loud minority and forces vegetarianism upon us.

I hope the food shortage won’t be exacerbated by the hard frosts we have had lately. The wheat is still struggling to get out of the blocks while most of the rape is in full flower, despite the cold.

It is not only food that is suffering from shortages. Glyphosate appears in tight supply, and I had to change my planned T0 spray due to a lack of available product despite the fact I had ordered well in advance.

May this be the beginning of the end for the traditional role of the agronomist?

If we are ordering chemical best suited to each individual variety 6-12 months ahead, the crop will receive that product whatever happens because it has been paid for.

So the need for an attentive crop-walking agronomist will have gone. Is this really the future or am I scaremongering?

Will Howe


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