Farmer Focus Arable: Richard Beachell’s crops look promising but margins don’t

Stuck in the farm office doing the farm budgets and cashflow is not my idea of fun.

But it is made more bearable as my final crop walk of the autumn, with Dave Robinson from TAG, has shown that all our crops have a good foundation and the potential to deliver high yields again.

Even with this potential, the budget for next year does not look very exciting. Margins will again be very tight, even though the figure in the fertiliser column is about half what it was last year.

Last year’s figures also show that our spend on herbicides over the farm rose by about £5000, an average of £5/acre). A large portion of this was in preventing grassweeds, particularly brome, from encroaching into the fields from 2m margins. It has been money well spent, as the crops were noticeably cleaner as well as being much easier to combine.

We have put a lot more business through membership of Woldmarsh, our buying group. Close liaison with Lindy Blanchard, who is in charge of agchems, throughout the season, and using advanced orders of staple products and delayed payment terms, has saved us a lot of money.

All we need is the lowest price with prompt delivery. The same goes for fertiliser, electricity, fuel and anything else we put through the group. I still keep a check on prices and buy elsewhere if a better deal can be found but there is less chance of having my leg lifted as I have a benchmark to work against.

Early receipt of my Single Farm Payment has certainly made the figures look better. A decent malting barley contract is now required to keep our marketing plans on track – at the moment it is struggling to reach three figures.

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