This Week in Farming: More cash for trees but not wool

Hello and welcome to another edition of This Week in Farming, the bulletin that showcases the best of what’s happened on the FW website in the past seven days.

Here’s five of the best topics you won’t want to miss out on and a look ahead to what’s coming up on the next edition of the Farmers Weekly podcast.

Funding upgrades

In this week’s “right tree in right place” news (rapidly becoming the most popular slogan in Britain), the Welsh government has significantly increased the amount its willing to pay farmers for tree planting.

With ambitious planting targets to hit, Welsh ministers said they were now willing to fund 100% of tree planting costs as they attempt to see 86m more trees planted in the nation by 2030.

In other welcome funding news, Defra also pledged to pay upland farmers the same as their lowland counterparts for the same actions, after persistent calls from farm lobbyists that there was not enough funding available in current and future schemes to replace area payments.

Whether either increase will be enough to tempt more to join up remains to be seen.

Lukewarm reception for tenancy reform

Some tenant farmers have a tough enough time with landlords, having to navigate tricky conversations about rent reviews and what they can and cannot do.

But what about in the future, with a host of different environmental schemes to navigate that both tenant and landlord may want or need to take ownership of and declining area payments (depending where in the country you are)?

These are the questions that Defra asked the independent Tenancy Working Group to answer, led by Baroness Kate Rock.

The group came back with 74 recommendations and, this week, Defra revealed how many it would be taking forward, with tenants left disappointed by what has been left out.

Yet, in my editorial this week, I muse that a timid approach for now may help to preserve the delicate balance of often competing needs between landlord and tenant, providing that more intervention is forthcoming as future problems arise.

Slashing fungicide spend

Is it possible to grow a decent crop of wheat without fungicide use? That’s the question Yorkshire farmer Angus Gowthorpe set out to answer when making the switch to biological disease control methods.

And the answer last season was “yes”, with a home-brewed microbe and fungal mix completely eliminating artificial fungicide use, saving more than £90/ha on a typical winter wheat field, while yields were maintained.

Find out here how he made it and what else he’s been doing to keep crops clean.

Another farmer cutting costs without seeing a penalty is Fife grower David Bell, who saved money on fuel and labour by reducing – but not eliminating – plough use on his way to growing an award-winning crop of winter barley.

Fancy going up in the world?

Flash in the pan or nifty invention that’s here to stay? Only time will tell, concludes regular machinery contributor James Andrews as he tests Fendt’s peculiar lifting-cab telehandler.

Read his thorough review of the German load-shifter, which can be yours for about £130,000.

Elsewhere in odd gadgetry this week is the biggest brolly you’ve ever seen in your life – the Shade Haven mobile parasol.

Designed to keep cows cool in the summertime, it also looks great for big family barbecues – if you can stomach the £21,000 price tag.

Wool Board prices revealed

No sheep farmer will make their fortune on the back of the wool cheque this year after British Wool revealed another dismal price for the unloved fibre.

Based on a 2.5kg fleece, farmers will receive just 75p a fleece for core grades, or £1.20 for a heavier 4kg fleece.

On a brighter note up in Lincolnshire, Farmer Focus writer Louise Elkington reports that a hard culling policy has paid off after a successful lambing which saw very few ewes needing assistance to lamb.

Listen to the FW podcast

Don’t forget the latest edition of the Farmers Weekly podcast with Johann Tasker and Hugh Broom.

This week, they’ll be looking at the fallout from the Rock Review, as well as the latest achievement by Pickups for Peace, a fantastic charity sending vehicles to Ukraine.

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

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