For help, advice and discussion about stuff not related to aviation. Play nice: no religion, no politics and no axe grinding please.
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By TheFarmer
When you say "as soon as possible after planting", would that ideally be hours, days...?

Ideally within 24 hours, but sooner if possible. Otherwise, a batch of germinating grass weeds can break through that won’t be affected by the pre-emergence herbicide. Once they’ve broken through, they’re up and away and need a whole new type of selective product to control them that’s expensive and less effective than it was 10 years ago due to chemical resistance.
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By TheFarmer
Do you actually own/lease/co-op share all that gorgeous plant?

I own it. It’s too expensive to hire it all year round, and the depreciation and capital allowance are useful in a good year.

However, all of my harvesting is ‘farmed out’ to a fiend of mine though, as he can do it more efficiently and cost effectively than I can. He has huge harvesting kit and oodles of man power, so that operation is more sensible to pay him to do. It’s a whole side of arable farming that’s a specialist operation in itself, and with modern harvesters costing up to £600,000, I’d rather pay a professional to do it for me.

We will get to that bit next summer though.
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By TheFarmer
Perhaps you could say it is.

Other (perhaps bigger barriers) are cost of buying or renting land. At £10,000 per acre to buy, and with a viable unit to support a family needing to be 500 acres+, that’s a £5,000,000 initial requirement, before machinery is even thought about.

Rents are also big at around £100 - £150 per acre, which is a huge cash flow requirement and overhead cost for a newcomer.

Land values have gone from £2,000 to £10,000 in only 20 years. The main reason is because it’s very tax efficient to own from an Inheritance Tax perspective, and there have been huge area bought by foreign investors and urban success stories such as the owner of a successful UK suction cleaner company who has spend hundreds of millions on land in the last 10 years. If they make a trading loss with their farming they’re really not too fussed as they can offset it against their multi-million pound non-farming profits.

These businesses then also bid for land when it forms up for rent to dilute their machinery investment overhead costs, meaning people who farm for a living aren’t able to compete.

It’s the same in every industry, so farming isn’t unique I suppose.
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By Propwash
Thanks for those figures. I have often wondered just how hard it would be for young farmers to get a foothold in the industry where they don't already have family involved. I have watched programmes like Countryfile on television and have been impressed by the apparent enthusiasm displayed by young farmers, but they invariably have been brought up in a farming family. Given the inevitable price increases of land, whether rented or owned, together with the march of expensive technology, would you say, with your knowledge, that the outlook for farming in the UK is bright or the opposite? Genuinely interested in your opinion on that.

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By TheFarmer
Good question.

Larger businesses will probably get bigger, but there is always room for young entrepreneurial spirit.

We produce commodities and are therefore told what price we get, so it’s not all rosy. If I was in my twenties today, and if I didn’t have a family business to develop, I’d be excited by all the enterprises that I could decide the price of my product/service. Land isn’t necessarily needed to be successful in agriculture as an industry.
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By Rob P
@TheFarmer Thank you for posting all that, it is fascinating to those of us not involved..

I spent four of five years living on a 650 acre arable farm in Shropshire (with a lovely farmer's daughter) but didn't really get involved in the agriculture other than a bit of bale-shifting and protecting the crops from pigeons.

Later I worked for a, now defunct, machinery manufacturer (thank you RBS) with a lot of involvement in sugar beet. Even twenty years back the emerging technology was amazing, with automated mechanical inter-row weeding using cameras that discriminated between weed and crop. I wonder where that has got to in the intervening years? No till was very much the coming thing then, it is nice to see it has really caught on.

Looking forward to the next instalment.

Rob P
By Bill McCarthy
In the 70s the target for wheat was 10tons per hectare, now its 20 and its approaching that fast. I’ve never worked out the costs differences between contracting and DIY with own machinery. It would be interesting to get a run down.
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By TheFarmer
I find it interesting how some days the Autosteer holds a 0 cm variance on each turn, whereas other days it can vary a lot by 1-5 cm. Today is a good day.


Anyway, the Flyer Wheat was planted yesterday and it’s exactly eight fields west of CPT VOR in case you want to keep an eye on it!

I’ll post some pictures of it when it emerges in about 10 days.

My seed drill plants (rather unconventionally) in 20cm bands with quite large gaps between the rows as shown below (last year’s crop).

This picture was taken in April 2020 of a crop planted exactly this time last year.

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By TheFarmer
In a bit more detail about the seed drill...

It’s a single pass device which means zero cultivations. Therefore less diesel, less metal wear, less soil erosion, and less carbon loss which is a problem with deep ploughing. So, it’s pretty enviro-friendly. Greta wouldn't shout at me.

The picture below shows the leading tine (tungsten carbide tipped) that cultivates a slot at around 4-5 inches deep. You can see how the steel has worn above it from the flints.

Following that is the triangular seeding boot. This is a 7 inch wide A-shape metal spoon that skims/lifts the soil at around 2 inches deep, and sitting just behind that is a splitter boot that the seed is blown out of across the 7 inch wide split-second gap before the soil falls back down again. This all happens pretty quickly, and effectively leaves a band of seed in the ground.

Simple, but it works.

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By TheFarmer
We choose our wheat variety for its strengths in certain aspects.

Yield potential.
Standing power (will it go flat?)
Ability to naturally resist diseases.
Harvest date
Planting time
End use (bread - biscuit - animal feed etc).

Here’s a link to the AHDB website that shows the different varieties.

The Flyer Wheat crop is a variety called Graham. It’s in the list. ... 020-21.pdf
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By TheFarmer
Oh, and in 24 hours, the grain market has dropped by £2. That’s a £7,000 drop in potential revenue for me.

You can see the importance of keeping an eye on the market.

It’s not a worry though. The Flyer crop that I planted yesterday doesn’t need to be moved out of my store until June 2022*, so there’s heaps of time, and it’s a very volatile market.

I live and breath this stuff. Am I boring/mad or both?!!!


* Yes, that’s how long we have investment tied up in our crops.
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By TheFarmer
In the 70s the target for wheat was 10tons per hectare, now its 20 and its approaching that fast

My land will only give me 10 tonnes at best (per hectare). That’s why I run such a lean system with zero staff and minimal machinery (compared to many).

I always find it fascinating how the Farmers Weekly publish articles about all the different farmers apparently doing 10-12 tonnes per hectare, when the actual average national yield, year after year, is under 8 tph!

I think there might be some willy waving going on out there in the pubs!

The trouble is, when farmers all say they’re doing 12 tonnes, the market (because it’s a commodity market) reacts by falling on the basis that there is an anticipated glut of crop that year. It’s what farmers have to sell in to, and then there’s a huge shortage and the UK buys it in from abroad when they realise they’re getting short!
By Bill McCarthy
When 10 tons per hectare is quoted, that is off combine weight at perhaps 23% moisture content. That has to be dried down to around 15%. The combine monitor on the outfit in Fife showed 18tons per hectare at one point - not necessarily the whole crop. They’ve done it in New Zealand.
I await the next visit from my seedsman - his ears may be burning at present.