John Best

30 November 2001

John Best

John Best farms 320ha

(791 acres) from Acton House

Farm, Pointspass, Co Down.

Wheat, conservation-grade

oats and potatoes are main

crops on his 220ha (544 acres)

of clay loam arable land

OUR main farm activity at present is watching out for the postman so we can intercept the IACS cheque and whisk it down to the bank.

While it is not a very satisfying way to farm, its arrival will be very welcome. A number of small payments – small meaning not big enough to dent the overdraft – have recently landed on the doormat. I cannot help thinking what the cost of processing this increasingly complicated plethora of schemes must be.

Perhaps the real reason for running so many is to keep us completely confused in the hope that we may forget about the arable agrimonetary compensation that we will now never receive.

The farm office has been the main centre of activity recently. I have been endeavouring to finalise margins for the arable crops with the aid of a Pear Technology crop management program that has just completed its first full years recording.

Unfortunately, I cannot blame the programme for the financial returns which are being produced for some fields of wheat.

It is a measure of the resilience of the software and the efficient telephone back-up which I have received that most of the records are still in place, despite my efforts at splitting fields and changing crops to combat last years weather.

Thankfully, this years crop recording will be much simpler with all fields drilled as intended and most crops well established.

All are looking well with the last of the Napier, drilled at the end of October, just emerging. Gerald and Millennium winter oats have been sprayed with 50ml/ha of Hallmark (lambda-cyhalothrin) plus Clenecorn Super (mecoprop) at 1.7 litres/ha to check any broad-leaved weeds which had emerged. Conservation grade crops of Gerald have had Hallmark only.

Fat lambs have been cleared at what must be record prices for the time of year, but I will wait and see what effect the lifting of foot-and-mouth restrictions has on lamb prices before making a decision on purchasing store lambs for finishing indoors. &#42

John Best has been working out margins on the computer this month. Unfortunately, the software cant be blamed for the returns.

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