This Week in Farming: Barriers, beef and electric saws

Hello and welcome to This Week In Farming, your regular round-up of some of the best content from Farmers Weekly over the past seven days.

Here’s five hot topics that we’ve covered in detail this week, and a look ahead to what’s coming up on the next edition of the FW podcast.

Council orders crime defences to be removed

The actions of Buckinghamshire Council are in the spotlight first this week after they ordered a farmer to remove concrete blocks and tyres he had placed in gateways and along field boundaries to deter criminals.

Colin Rayner, who says he is a constant victim of rural crime, was threatened with prosecution if he did not comply with the order from the council under section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act.

He later told FW that he had reluctantly decided to comply with the order as he was “too exhausted to fight another legal battle”.

In my editorial this week I’ve taken a pop at the decision, saying that it fails to adequately account for his right to protect himself from crime.

Electric saws on test: Do they pass muster?

Can electric chainsaws match the performance of a traditional fuelled device, and which of the burgeoning selection on offer is the best?

That’s the question that the machinery team set out to answer this week, with five battery-powered saws up against Stihl’s MS261 C-M petrol – a popular pro-spec 50cc saw that can be fitted with guide bars from 14-18in.

You’ll get a detailed rundown of the likes and gripes of each, and a final verdict on whether these quieter devices are good enough to leave their rivals gathering dust on the shelf.

Farmers’ tool sheds have long been seen as an attractive target by thieves, but news emerged this week that fuel thefts have also soared since the price of diesel spiked after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Who owns Britain’s farmland?

There are far fewer farmyards than there once were, of course, as consolidation of the farming sector continues and large landowners snap up blocks of land as they come to market.

But who are Britain’s biggest landowners and just how much do they own?

Find out by reading our article on who owns Britain’s farmland, from freelancer Jon Riley.

Up horn, down corn

It’s been a blistering week for folk with cattle to sell amid a shortage in sales rings on both sides of the Irish sea, livestock reporter Michael Priestley notes.

Store and fat cattle trade is on the rise as competition for supply intensifies and beef farmers’ margins have also been helped by falling cereal prices.

At £200,000 it doesn’t immediately sound like the Lely Vector – a robotic cattle feeding device – is a way to cut costs.

Yet Northamptonshire beef farmers Pete and Richard Burbage say the setup has cut feed costs by 75% compared to a tractor-drawn mixer wagon, as well as bringing in a slew of other benefits.

Check out the video of the robot in action at the end of this detailed analysis from Charlotte Cunningham.

Stem rust return

Could a long-banished disease be about to creep back into Britain’s cereal crops?

Stem rust has been spotted at a number of research sites in the past 12 months and could be on the brink of breaking out more widely this year for the first time since 1955.

Arable editor Richard Allison delves into the details of how severe this invasion could be and what steps farmers can take to fight back in this article, which includes an analysis of the fungi’s complex life cycle.

Listen to the FW Podcast

Don’t forget about the latest edition of the Farmers Weekly podcast with Johann Tasker and Hugh Broom, which was recently confirmed to be in the top 5% of all Buzzsprout-hosted podcasts.

This week, the team bring you another bonanza of the latest news and another round of their exciting Commodity Cashback Competition, which sees hosts Johann and Hugh pick a farm commodity (wheat, milk, beef etc) and ask listeners to text FARM to 88440 followed by their prediction for the price of that commodity the following week.

Listen to the FW Podcast here, and be in with a chance of winning £50, or bring us with you in the cab by downloading it from your usual podcast platform.

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