Don’t miss this month’s new look Arable Farming. Take a look at the digital edition today.
It is sobering to sit down to write an October issue editorial in the knowledge that, for some, harvest is not yet over. As I write on September 20, there are growers in north east Scotland reported to have almost half of their acreage still to bring in, having seen little in the way of combining opportunities since the beginning of the month. Not surprisingly, harvest there is being described as a ‘salvage job’, as it is too in parts of south west England.
The loss of yield and quality is a big enough blow but sadly knock-on effects are already becoming evident: unwelcome drying costs, damage to soil structure and, in some cases, missed drilling opportunities for oilseed rape.
But it has not all been bad news. Across much of the UK yields have been better than anticipated and some commentators have gone as far as suggesting the five-year rolling average wheat yield may breach 8t/ha for the first time.
Wet weather harvests seem to be becoming the norm. According to the Met Office, this August was the 11th wettest on record, although it has still not been as wet as August 2007, 2009 or, 2012.
We can do nothing to control the weather but the downpours of August and September have once again flagged up the need to improve the resilience of arable farming, be it through changes to cropping and variety choice, investment in grain drying and handling facilities, or advances in harvesting technology. Or perhaps new plant breeding technologies will one day deliver weatherproof wheat?
Renewable energy sources received a boost recently with the news they generated more electricity than coal and gas in Great Britain for the first time. But the future looks less certain for renewable transport fuels following the Department for Transport’s proposal to apply a crop cap of 4% for crop-based biofuels. A low crop cap would severely impact the UK’s production of bioethanol – the two plants in the UK can process 2.2 million tonnes of wheat.
There is a lot still to be done in the field but as autumn draws in it is time for us to look ahead to The CropTec Show.
In this issue we hear from two growers about the value of new technology and innovation - key CropTec themes - to their very different farming businesses.
Don’t forget entrance to CropTec is free. Why not register now?