This Week in Farming: SFI delays, pickup prices and collabs

Hello and welcome to This Week in Farming, where we bring you the very latest from five biggest topics affecting agriculture in the past seven days.

This week we have a focus on the merits of deeper collaboration between farmers, another update on the harvest and a close look at why the application window for the Sustainable Farming Incentive has not opened on time.

Environmental scheme delays

Farmers in England interested in applying for this year’s updated Sustainable Farming Incentive were told that the application window would open in the middle of August, but that deadline has now come and gone, leaving farmers with many questions.

Separately, the Countryside Stewardship application window opened, closed and then re-opened until 15 September.

In my editorial this week I again emphasise that environmental schemes cannot be relied upon to keep farmers afloat. For many, it will have to be through changing how they farm, including bearing down on costs through collaboration.

Work smarter, not harder

Some methods of collaboration are well-established, such as straw-for-muck deals, while others are still relatively unusual, in this country at least, with modern and innovative ways of machinery sharing more common in other countries.

HSBC’s outgoing deputy head of agriculture, Euryn Jones, notes in this article that this is a shame, as the benefits can extend to improving business efficiency and decreasing volatility.

Here’s how four groups of livestock farmers are making it work in Scotland and Northumberland, including by growing a successful pasture-fed meat brand and improving the profitability of cull ewes.

Harvest progress

Social media may be awash with English farmers putting the finishing touches to their winter wheat, but there’s still plenty of malting barley to cut in Scotland.

If the English harvest is anything to go by, yields may be disappointing but the quality shows promise, with the low nitrogen levels needed to hit spec.

This new variety of feed barley performed well too.

It’s a different story for winter wheat, with the proportion meeting millers’ requirements significantly lower than normal.

Suffolk organic farmer John Pawsey has seen some late starts to harvest days amid the damp weather, with extra work needed to keep the combine fit and ready to cut.

Ultimate guide: Pickups, ATVs and UTVs

In the market for a new 4×4? Want to scrutinise every last detail before making such a big purchase? We’ve got you covered.

Check out our handy guides – including the engine size, towing capacity and list price – for each model of pickup, quad bike and UTV on the market at the moment.

And if you like lots of chrome-plated trucks, don’t miss this special Canadian edition of What’s in Your Shed, featuring UK-born Mike Faulkner and his daughters Georgie and Emma.

Good/bad week

Who’ll be left smiling after this week’s events, and who won’t? Well, I’d bet a pound of their money that the team behind Cheshire’s Riverdane Holsteins will still be grinning from ear to ear after their enormously successful sale of breeding stock recently.

They hit a UK record 90,000 guineas for a single heifer and had 13 lots in excess of 10,000 guineas.

And having a bit of a bad week is former Defra secretary George Eustice.

He was told this week by a government watchdog that he’ll have to seek permission from them for each new client of his consulting firm, to avoid falling foul of rules that prevent former ministers using their departmental knowledge for personal gain.

So, a lot of chats with Eric Pickles in his future for the time being.

Listen to the FW podcast

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

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

See more