Don’t miss this month’s new look Arable Farming. Take a look at the digital edition today.
One of Arable Farming’s farmer columnists contacted me just after he had sent in his copy for this issue to apologise for its grumpy tone. In truth he was being a little hard on himself and, in fact, he was not the only one to be feeling somewhat down in the dumps.
Our Talking Arable columnists may farm under different business models and in geographically very different areas, but one thing is clear from the experiences and opinions they have shared this month – it has been a tough start to the year and things do not look like they are going to get easier any time soon.
The issues giving rise to furrowed brows from Worcestershire, across to Bedfordshire and up to Morayshire are the same: low grain prices, rising costs in some key input areas, and uncerover Basic Payment Scheme payments.
There is no silver bullet solution to these challenges, each and every farming business will tackle them in its own way but in doing so it is worth reflecting – and excuse the cliche –that a problem shared is a problem halved. Now surely is a time for the industry to work together openly and honestly at every stage of the chain in an effort to build a more resilient, sustainable agriculture.
Travelling through west Suffolk to a meeting in Cambridge this week (third week of February), I passed sprayers, fertiliser spreaders and drills in action, not on the heaviest land around, admittedly, but nonetheless signalling the spring season is upon us. It looks like it is going to be a testing one as the agronomic challenges mount following the mild winter. No doubt there will be more than a few budgets reworked in the coming weeks. A spell of good, sharp frosts would almost certainly ease the pressure in some crops, but with February drawing to a close the likelihood of help in that form must surely be diminishing.
As the days lengthen and soils dry out, it is easy to get caught up in the in-evitable frenzy of field-work. But we hope that as well as helping inform your decision-making, the contents of this issue of Arable Farming will inspire you to find the time to think a little differently. From unleashing your inner entrepreneur, through to alternative options for cost-effective horsepower, to first steps in new agricultural intelligence.
What are you waiting for?
Teresa Rush, Arable Farming editor.