Gap between best and worst arable farmers grows

The financial gap between the best and worst arable producers is getting bigger, according to Laurence Gould consultants.

Analysis of the firm’s clients found that the top 10% of winter wheat producers made a gross margin of £1103/ha from last harvest, more than double that of the bottom 10% at £506/ha. The average wheat gross margin was £828/ha.

Higher yields were a key factor, with the best wheat growers averaging 11.5t/ha, and the bottom 10% nearer 7.2t/ha. However, this was achieved using 47% more fertiliser.

Successful marketing was also important, with a £40/t difference between the highest and lowest average price for wheat sales.

“With relatively low grain prices and fertiliser costs expected to rise through the summer, the temptation is to reduce application levels,” Robin Hobson, director for southern England said.

“These statistics show the highest yielding crops (with the highest gross margin) also have the highest levels of fertiliser application. Producers should avoid the lure of reducing applications to save costs as this is likely to be a false economy.”