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My Farming Week - Ally Hunter Blair, Herrefordshire

Ally Hunter Blair farms about 202 hectares (500 acres) of tenanted land from the Duchy of Cornwall in Ross-on-Wye. He took succession of tenancy from his father in 2012. He was featured on Channel 4’s First Time Farmers.


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Ally Hunter Blair
Ally Hunter Blair

Crops: It has been an annoyingly wet and mild winter. We have about 60 hectares (150 acres) of ground which floods and unfortunately this year, the river has spent more time out than in.


This has led to us losing about 12ha (30 acres) of wheat and 6ha (15 acres) of oilseed rape.


While I farm in Ross-on-Wye, most winters it is almost as if we should change the name to Ross-in-Wye.


We try to minimise the winter crops on the river, but have to keep up our five-year rotation.


Our arable rotation involves wheat, malting barley, winter oilseed rape, peas and sugarbeet.


We also run a flock of home-bred Easycare-style ewes.


Lambing: We have just started lambing, which hopefully means spring is just around the corner, and we can start planting our spring crops. Although, as I write, we have just had 35mm (1.4in) of rain and the ground all looks sad.


On the plus side, it looks like I will be able to watch the England and Wales rugby match after all. Being English, but spending 11 years at school in Wales, means this is the most important game of the year.


NFU: I recently joined the NFU Next Generation board and because of this had a place at the NFU Conference held earlier in the year.


I was hugely looking forward to attending, as it gives you unrivalled access to so many industry movers and shakers.


This year was no different, as the speakers were excellent, although the tone was slightly despondent.


While I suppose it reflected the overriding mood of the industry, I would rather a ‘yes, times are tough, but this is how we can, and will, get out of it’ message than a ‘let’s sit and feel sorry for ourselves’ message.


My highlight of the conference was, as always, meeting the hundreds of other enthusiastic, optimistic young farmers who attend. It is always nice to catch up and listen to the passion the next generation has for the industry.


Had you been near the dancefloor of Walkabout in the early hours of that Wednesday morning, you would have seen no end of enthusiasm from farmers of all ages.


Spring: Hopefully by the time you read this it will be beautifully spring-like, and we will be flat out on land as well as lambing.


The overall picture for farming is not very exciting at the moment, but challenges always breed opportunity, and I for one will be trying to grab every opportunity which comes my way.

 


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