Citadels

By Peter Lundgren, The Farmer

Happy New Year!

I never know what I think about the New Year celebrations. On the one hand I’m a bit depressed because I can’t help thinking that I’m not finished with the old year yet and time is flying by too quickly; on the other hand I’m happy at the thought that the long dark days of winter will be coming to an end and the promise of spring is just round the corner.

And we’ve got moles in the field of wheat! Like so many things in farming moles are a mixed blessing – on the plus side they’re an indication of healthy soils supporting lots of earthworms for the moles to feed on; on the minus side the molehills smother some of the crop and bring weed seeds to the surface. And they are industrious little beggars! In the picture you can see normal sized molehills in the foreground and a mole citadel further away. These citadels stand about 18ins to two feet tall and contain above ground runs and living quarters for the moles.

Storm Frank passed with a bad rainstorm and ferocious winds but fortunately no damage. Living at just 1 metre above sea level I’m thankful that the water levels in the dykes and rivers around here are actively managed by the Environment Agency and Internal Drainage Boards. Yes I have to pay the EA and IDBs to have the water levels on my farm managed and water pumped away but looking at the horrendous images of damage and flooding in other parts of the country its money well spent. Maybe the model of locally managed internal drainage boards with funding from landowners and local authorities would help in other parts of the country.

 

 

Please feel free to read through questions and responses from the Field of Wheat collective members and the Farmer.

MARK

Feed wheat & barley continue to be rather stagnant sitting at around £102/t & £95/t respectively (milling wheat at c. £112/t) and frankly show little sign of improvement in the short term.- how do you feel at the moment - and how do farmers cope with being price takers and not price makers?

2016-01-26 08:14:44

Peter Lundgren, The Farmer

Hi Mark I could be flippant and say that I wish I had pursued a career in something sensible and low risk like property development or banking! The prices of commodity crops like wheat never seem to follow any logic. We are told that the price is dictated by the supply of wheat with short supplies driving the price up; and the world demand increasing also driving the price up. But then during the last recession the price almost doubled and now we are out of recession (and people have a bit more spare cash) the price has plummeted. I remember when I bought the farm both myself and my bank manager thought the price of wheat could not go below £90/ton - it promptly crashed to £60! And a couple of years ago we farmers all thought the bad times were over and good prices were here to stay because with increased world populations demand would continue to grow - and now the price has fallen again! The current low prices are challenging and many farmers are having difficult interviews with their bank managers. All we can do is try to cut costs and farm within the projected income. As for being price takers; it's a huge problem that affects all commodities. The only answer is to add value to the wheat in some form or other but that involves increased investment and new skills - and ultimately it will only benefit the few because if we all do it the added value product loses its premium and becomes a commodity. Or we farmers can find other forms of income to supplement the farm income - Rose calls it supporting my farming habit - but that's not really a viable future for an industry that should be providing the nation's food and be rewarded adequately for doing it.

2016-01-28 17:54:42