Brian Hammond

26 December 1997

Brian Hammond

Brian Hammond is farm

manager for Carnreagh

Farms at the 182ha (450-

acre) Ballyalloly Farm,

Comber, Co Down where he

grows 50ha (125 acres) of

potatoes as well as cereals

and oilseed rape

TALKING to my friends and neighbours lately, the conversation often goes something like this: "Twenty years ago you could get the same money for crops as today, but now it costs twice as much to grow."

A little research revealed a comparison much more extreme. My great grandfather, John Goddard, farmed on Rendlesham Estate, Suffolk, in the late 19th century. One of the crops he grew successfully was white clover for seed. When the clover was good, which it often was, he received £1/lb, the same price it is today. But input costs have risen dramatically.

So, back to the present century. The wheat has come through well, giving excellent stands in all but a couple of small patches that flooded. Sowing wheat in November can sometimes be a bit of a lottery, but not this year. The last field only took 20 days to emerge thanks to some mild, if not very wet conditions at the end of November.

The sprayer was quite busy before the weather broke. Oilseed rape has been sprayed with Kerb (metaza-chlor) to control volunteer barley and some rampant chickweed.

For the Gerald winter oats we have tried out Lexus Class (flupyrsulfuron-methyl + carfentrazone-ethyl). It seems to have worked well and could be used on other cereals in the future. Although a little on the expensive side, it is kind to the crop and suits our weed spectrum well.

A tank mix of IPU, DFF + cypermethrin worked well in the winter barley, but proved a bit too "hot" for one field of Regina. Fortunately, the mild weather has helped it recover.

As the year draws to a close I would like to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a more prosperous New Year. Also, thanks to my wife Anne for putting up with me and the long hours for another year! &#42

Crop prices are little different to 20 years ago, but input costs have soared. Brian Hammond wants to know why.

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