Don’t miss this month’s new look Arable Farming. Take a look at the digital edition today.
Little did I know when I commented last month on harvest delays there would be crops still to cut in the southern half of the country late into September. Sadly, quality concerns surfaced as the wet August splashed into a catchy September, with reports from some regions of pre-harvest sprouting in wheat and skinning in barley.
Better news is we have cut some big crops this year, with yield records, be they official or unofficial, tumbling like ninepins. Whatever your view on ‘world record yields’ – and it is fair to say they are often viewed with a degree of scepticism – they do highlight what is possible.
I imagine many of you will have been surprised by the yields achieved on your farms this harvest. The challenge now is to subject those yields to close scrutiny and work out what went right and why. It is a process I know is already under way and I look forward to hearing some of the conclusions in the coming months.
This harvest’s big yields have been welcome at a time of poor prices and low confidence in the industry. In recent weeks experts have warned of ‘no profit in combinable crops’. Unsurprisingly the spotlight has fallen on input costs and there have been calls for the ‘ambitions’ of those supplying inputs to be curbed in reaction to lower commodity prices. We must set this against the need for the essential R&D in which many of these businesses invest.
Unwelcome as they have been, the weather delays have provided an opportunity to catch up with the wider news, and there has been plenty of it. Whatever the colour of your politics, the Labour party leader election campaign made compulsive viewing. Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on agriculture has been described as ‘combative’, following the appointment of vegan animal rights campaigner Kerry McCarthy to the Shadow Defra role. We wait with interest to hear her vision for farming.
It is impossible to ignore the influence of politics on our industry, whether the international response to China’s economic instability or European policy on milk prices, migration, or renewable energy – somewhere along the line the arable sector will feel an impact.
And if that doesn’t get you thinking, I hope this issue of Arable Farming does. So, if you believe you can make better use of farm data, are evaluating a change in combine policy, want to know more about using a drone safely and legally on your farm, or are planning an AD plant – read on, we’ve got it covered.
Teresa Rush, Arable Farming editor.