Don’t miss this month’s new look Arable Farming. Take a look at the digital edition today.
So, we are into a new year and costs are on our minds. The very real costs of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) delays and flood damage, the potential costs of Brexit, and perhaps a high disease pressure season to come – these last two prime examples of the need for better and more timely information, albeit in very different contexts.
Increasing yield, not cutting inputs, is the route to reducing costs the experts tell us, and they are right to a point. But surely the risk is of doing more or less what we have always done –give or take a quarter of a litre here or a kilogram there – and missing an opportunity to cut costs where it can be achieved and redirect limited budget to where it might be more productive?
Of course the starting point is to know precisely what costs of production are and this is something many growers can get a whole lot better at. Now, there is a New Year’s resolution if ever there was one.
As Arable Farming went to press, large numbers of farmers had yet to hear when their Basic Pay-ment would arrive – and even in some cases how much it would be. There is no doubt the uncer-tainty will mean a miserable start to the New Year for some and it seems farmers are not the only ones looking for Defra to step up to the mark. The ‘wobbly start’ to the much-maligned new Countryside Stewardship Scheme was down to the department’s ’focus’ on the BPS, Natural England CEO Guy Thompson told January’s NFU Council meeting. He is a man quite clearly hoping for better times in 2016. Improvements have been promised; time will tell if they are delivered.
As I write it looks like the first (and possibly the last?) real cold snap of winter is coming to a close. Here in the eastern counties a few days of cold, crisp weather, hopefully, have put the brakes on the disease thriving happily in lush, soft crops.
And the winter sunshine was certainly welcome at Lamma’16, where the crowds would suggest while machinery manufacturers may be sharing in the pain of poor commodity prices and an uncertain economic outlook, growers are continuing to reassess their businesses, seek out new ideas and innovations which will help take them forward, and invest, albeit perhaps more cautiously.
It has been a tough start to the year and there are difficult times ahead, but the farming industry is well-practiced in meeting challenges head-on. All the best for 2016.
Teresa Rush, Arable Farming editor.