This Week in Farming: Urea rules, Lamma and money from muck

Hello and welcome to another edition of This Week in Farming, your roundup of the best content from Farmers Weekly in the past seven days.

But first, it’s the biggest mystery in farming this week. Who tipped that huge heap of beet on the road?

Now, on with the show.

Morrisons mulls green premium

Morrisons is exploring the possibility of providing a premium for a future Red Tractor environment module, following a farmer backlash over the Greener Farms Commitment (GFC).

The retailer’s head of agriculture and sustainable sourcing, Sophie Throup, also hinted that the introduction of an environmental module was still on the cards, as Red Tractor had been “answering a call from retailers” when developing it.

Ms Throup, who also sits on the board of Red Tractor’s parent company, Assured Food Standards, made the comments at the recent Farmers Weekly Question Time event in Harrogate.

You can register to attend the next event, at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire on 22 February, via the Farmers Weekly Question Time site.

In my editorial this week, I deliberate on whether Red Tractor will be able to move on from this scandal without a change in management.

Making money from manure

Dairy farmers, how do you fancy cutting the cost of your energy bill by producing 85% of it on the farm?

That’s what this Gloucestershire producer has achieved after investing in a slurry-only anaerobic digester and solar panels to tackle his £4,500 electric bill.

And do you know your milking facts from fiction? Here’s half a dozen common myths tackled, including an analysis of whether heifers really are naturally bad at letting their milk down.

It’s not just dairy farmers on the hunt to save cash this week, either, with this Northumberland beef unit targeting a £200 a head saving from outwintering its suckler cows versus a previous housed system.

Lamma roundup

It was busier than ever at Lamma this year with the return of major manufacturers, farm influencer appearances and even, so I see on TikTok, an OnlyFans model signing the boxer shorts of tractor drivers.

Luckily, our machinery editor Oli Mark confined himself to the serious business of tractors and implements, including the European debut of South Korean tractor brand Kioti’s biggest ever export model, the HX.

Catch up with the best of the rest right here.

Urea reminder

Farmers in England are being reminded that they should not use either solid or liquid urea from 1 April, unless it has been treated with a urease inhibitor.

This means that, in England, both solid and liquid fertilisers with more than 1% urea, applied any time from 1 April through to 15 January each year, must use effective protection to reduce ammonia emissions.

The only exception is liquid fertiliser containing urea, which may still be applied if there is an agronomic justification, as provided by Facts-qualified farm personnel or advisers.

In other arable news, the debate on the best drilling time for OSR has been re-opened after fresh research challenged the common assumption that going early is best – in order to beat the flea beetle – due to its negative impact on plant development.

Who’s up and who’s down?

Rising milk prices have featured before as an “on the up” candidate, and I am very pleased to place them again this week amid fresh forecasting from dairy analyst Chris Walkland of a return to 40p/litre by summer.

Feeling down this week are beef finishers who source cattle from the store ring. Despite a rising price for fat cattle, now above £5/kg, the blistering trade on stores is still putting severe pressure on margins.

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