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In Your Field: James Powell - 'The weather that is the main topic affecting our industry'

James farms 180ha (450 acres) of uplands in Llanbadarn Fynydd, Powys.

 

Married to Rachel with three sons, James runs 1,000 ewes, mostly Aberfield crosses, plus a 50-head suckler herd.

 

An HCC scholar in 2014, he is involved with NFU Cymru’s Next Generation initiative and is passionate about rural affairs.

A month since my last column and I am afraid it is still the weather which is the main topic affecting our industry.

 

The snow returned and lingered well into April and the cold rain has been relentless most days since. We are now well into lambing and I am so grateful we decided to lamb later this year.

 

I feared last year we were too dependant on imported student staff and would be left vulnerable lambing indoors in early March should the weather or staff let us down.

 

This year, my fears were proved in both respects, and we scraped through, thankfully lambing just a few hundred cross-bred ewes indoors in late March.

 

The main bunches of Welsh, Aberfields and the yearlings have this week started lambing outdoors, albeit on bare grass covers, but supplemented by ewe rolls and good quality haylage.

 

Longer daylight hours and rising temperature should see the grass growth starting to move now, but sheep are hungry and soil needs to dry somewhat before we can spread our fertiliser which has now been delivered.

 

We are hugely fortunate to still have sufficient fodder to last the season, but it is easy to see the long, late end to winter can cause spiralling costs and distress to anyone involved in agriculture.

 

It has been a relentless, physically and mentally draining time, but for me the energy of having our three young sons helping over Easter raised spirits and, with sledges towed behind snackers and finding time for fun, we all get through it together.

 

I read somewhere a farmer should leave the farm once a day, the village once a week, the county once a month and the country once a year. We all need to take heed.

 

We are now currently fencing and tree planting as the Welsh Government has extended the completion deadlines on Glastir capital works contracts for a month due to the appalling weather.

 

And, to end on a positive note, fertiliser prices are lower this year and the lamb price is currently soaring.

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