Russell McKenzie: 'Spring drilling has been shifted further back'


A week of decent drying weather towards the end of February lured me into a false sense of security that spring was around the corner.


The past 10 days have seen rain on and off and the impending spring drilling workload has been shifted further back.


Having just returned from a half-term skiing holiday in France, we were very lucky as there was a big dump of snow just before we arrived and we were blessed with sunshine throughout.


I was equally pleased I am still quicker than my children, although I do not expect that to last for much longer. The great thing about youth is the no-fear attitude, which fades as you get older.


The price of everything was a shock, however. Nothing is cheap skiing, with the pound virtually on a par with the euro, everything was frighteningly expensive, but at least it has had a positive effect on our commodity prices.


At our recent benchmarking group’s meeting, you did not need to be a genius to work out wheat is worth about £40/tonne more than this time last year, which is all down to currency, I am told by my grain merchant.


The great thing about the group is we can pick the bare bones out of individual enterprises and understand the fundamentals within our businesses to pin true costs of production. It is scary when you take into account the true cost of production for growing a tonne of wheat or oilseed rape.


Last year, when wheat was at the £100/t level, it was losing money, so thank goodness for the upswing in prices, as two years like that would have been very tough.


With question marks over future support payments, if any post-Brexit, I only hope prices remain at a sensible level.


As a trustee on the board of the Nuffield Farming Scholarship, we are meeting the 2017 Scholars who are about to depart for Brazil for their contemporary scholars conference. It is a fantastic country to visit and certainly my favourite during my Nuffield travels.


I had not considered global travel before my scholarship, but it was an incredible opportunity and truly rewarding to travel across the world researching a topic I am passionate about.


To visit some incredible countries and meet some wonderfully innovative people has broadened my horizons. I wish the current group the best of luck and hope they gain as much out of the experience as I did.

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