Good margins down to healthy grain prices

12 February 1999

Good margins down to healthy grain prices

GOOD grain prices lie behind excellent gross margins from organically grown cereals at Broomfield College, Derbyshire.

The 70ha (173-acre) college farm holds the Soil Associations Symbol Standard and is used to support the countrys only HND course in organic agriculture, says lecturer Jeremy Carter.

With last years organically grown wheat making £161/t and triticale selling for £143/t the crops returned gross margins of £988/ha (£400/acre) and £630/ha (£255/acre), respectively.

The farm has a 40-cow Dairy Shorthorn herd producing organic milk and beef. "The usual rotation is three years of grass/clover ley followed by one year each of wheat and triticale," says Mr Carter.

The two fields of Hereward for breadmaking averaged 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre) and two of triticale did 4.1t/ha (1.7t/acre). All were contract harvested.

Seed costs were similar, both crops being sown at 225kg/ha (200lb/acre) in mid October. The fields were cross-drilled at two half rates to help provide better crop competition against weeds. "There is clearly a fixed cost element to be borne in mind by doing this," says Mr Carter.

Mechanical weeding with a Tearaway machine and hand roguing, mainly for wild oats, totalled £30/ha (£12/acre) for each crop. But contract drying and cleaning the wheat cost £12/t, nearly twice as much as for the triticale.

Mr Carter accepts that the high prices for organic cereals are likely to slip as more growers become converted. "But there is still a very good demand and mileage." &#42

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