This Week in Farming: Crops drop, urea latest and cheap vans

Hello and welcome to another edition of This Week in Farming, your one-stop shop for the best of Farmers Weekly from the past seven days.

Here’s a selection of eye-catching topics we’ve covered this week, and a reminder to keep an eye out for the next edition of the Farmers Weekly podcast.

Natural England data breach

Natural England has apologised for publishing the names of a number of respondents to a consultation on whether to designate a Cornish moor a site of special scientific interest.

It took a campaign group associated with the issue to report the breach, believed to have taken place due to a malfunction in automatic redaction software.

Some respondents had explicitly asked for their objections to the change of land status to be kept confidential.

Crop price slump

It’s been a bad week for arable growers but a cheering week for buyers of animal feed amid a sharp drop in the price of cereals and oilseeds.

At £349/tonne, rapeseed is now sitting at half the price of 12 months ago, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine sent prices skyrocketing.

Similarly, wheat has fallen sharply amid a glut of cheap Russian exports and a rising production forecast for next harvest as weather improves across the US corn belt.

Plenty of farmers cut their nitrogen usage last year as prices for the vital input soared, with many not seeing a negative impact from reduced usage.

In our latest analysis on fertiliser use, we speak to growers who explain why that might be difficult to replicate again this season.

Future of urea

Speaking of fertiliser, there’s been another update on the future for urea fertilisers this week.

Defra farm minister Mark Spencer has given an industry consortium, including the NFU, AIC and Red Tractor, until the end of the month to come up with a workable industry-led plan to demonstrate that farmers are using untreated urea only between 15 January and 31 March each year.

If successful, the move – intended to demonstrate reduced ammonia emissions and prevent an outright ban on the product – will need to be up and running by this autumn so that enforcement can take place next year.

In my editorial this week I note that arable growers may bristle at an additional role for Red Tractor, but the challenge for them will be to come up with a solution they prefer that is also acceptable to the government.

Cheap runabout? Plan for a van

Plenty of you have a lot of on-road running to do between blocks of land, multiple yards or to an off-farm home.

While fuel isn’t quite as expensive as it once was, a thirsty farm truck may not be the best solution for all of these tasks.

If you’ve been mulling a cheap van as a handy runabout, check out this run-through of the pros and cons of many of the most common options, including the Renault Kangoo and Peugot Partner.

Probate explained

The emotional loss of a family member is hard to take, but for farming folk there is often the extra burden of dealing with the business and financial ramifications – the probate process – which can lead to enormous additional stress at an already difficult time.

In this piece we walk you through what to expect from the process and highlight how to avoid common pitfalls and delays which will otherwise hamper the process.

Separately, this week we’ve also taken a look at fraud within a business – and how to safeguard against internal bad actors, be they staff or family members.

If you’ve been affected by either of these issues and would like to share your story, please get in touch with business editor Suzie Horne.

FW Podcast

Coming up in this week’s edition of the Farmers Weekly podcast, we’ll bring you the latest on farming’s hottest topics, including more analysis of what’s happening in the grain markets.

Listen here or bring us with you in the cab by downloading it from your usual podcast platform.

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