The combines are starting to roll out in south Lincolnshire and by the time this prose starts flying off the news-stands, fingers crossed, so will ours, writes Ian Stancer.
Earliest yield indications are encouraging, but we have to be realistic where late drilling and slugs caused patchy establishment in too many fields. On the other hand I’m looking forward to harvesting a few fields that look to have exceeded earlier expectations, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves; with seemingly every farm commodity struggling to break even at current values, careful decisions need to be taken for the coming year. Sugar beet has taken a big hit in price again and because it’s pre-determined, it’s more straightforward than most crops to determine viability. It’s no secret that British Sugar have product stockpiled in warehouses so that even though they clearly want to continue producing in the long term, they are happy to see the crop coast along for a few years until the European market loses some surplus production capacity in the least efficient nations, in the hope that our inherent efficiency will win through.
A big campaign lies ahead, but as ever the most important thing to consider is safety for ourselves and those working with us. NFU Mutual has launched a new internet-based safety audit called Safety Hub, aimed at the simpler, smaller farm units with up to three workers. Unfortunately, it’s not free, but it does seem to have the potential to be a useful aid, both to ensure compliance with the latest health and safety legislation, and to focus the minds of those working within its framework to be more aware of the risks. It’s interactive and rather than providing just a snapshot in time the aim is to keep updating the information when circumstances change.
Here’s wishing you all good weather, bounteous yields, better prices and, most of all, a safe voyage through.