Spring seeds special – Tipple barley is main spring sowing for SW Barometer

Barley – home-saved Tipple – will be the main spring sowing on Farmers Weekly‘s south-western Barometer farm.

“By using home-saved seed, applying compost and hopefully benefitting from some residual nitrogen we’re hoping to keep a firm lid on variable costs,” says Peter Snell.

“With malting barley currently trading at £20-30/t above feed we’re hoping it will make a positive contribution to the bottom line – and maybe even be one of the more profitable crops in the rotation.

“We’re also sowing linseed on one of our contract farms, chosen because intense pigeon pressure would have made oilseed rape and peas very difficult – plus the owners wanted a spring break to benefit the farm shoot.”

Fallowing has barely been considered, says Mr Snell.

“Although some crops are currently priced at or below the cost of production, we’re in an extremely volatile market, and while we’re in danger (although unlikely, I think) of prices slipping further or staying stagnant, I think we’ll see upsides to it that hopefully we can take advantage of.

“Also, for a farming business like ours, with fixed costs to pay whether we’re cropping all our land or not, it’s better to have some cash flow (from commodity sales) rather than much less to be able to pay labour, repairs, hire purchase on the combine, etc.”