Introduction – Issue 18

There’s quiet confidence in farming at present, and it looks like there will be more money than normal available for investment. Andersons ‘Loam Farm’, their virtual 600ha of combinable crops, is forecast to have a business surplus of £840/ha (on an output value of £1966/ ha) this year compared with £573 in 2021 – but their forecast figure drops to just £161 in 2023. In addition there is money from the Farming Investment Fund – three farmers at Cereals told me they had secured funding – two for drills and one for a shallow cultivator. The question is whether to use the available cash and/or £25k grant to buy a better machine than you had budgeted for, or use the fund money to take the sting out of the purchase.

Pub talk suggests that, when it comes to equipment, the adage “you get what you pay for” applies to complexity rather than reliability, which is of-course the one thing which everyone needs. Not too many farmers calculate and add up the cost of breakdowns, and if they did I think there would be much greater emphasis on pre-season preparation. Doing the preparation job properly means replacing parts such as belts and bearings which are still performing as they should, as well as buying in spares of those liable to pack up. Spares are expensive and there’s a temptation to restrict the pre-season to a oil and filters, worn belts and rumbling bearings, and hope it holds together. Chats with dealers and farmers with the same machines can help list the ‘at-risk’ components.

This where forums such as can be so valuable. Not many farmers would go to the extreme of giving their worn out drill – a Vadersatad 30S – a complete dismantle, repair, paint and rebuild like Jamie Hawkins did last winter. I featured the job in Farm Ideas issue #120. The full refurb cost less than £10k and Jamies knows the 30S suits his existing tractor and field topography – being mounted it goes across slopes better than trailed drills. The record business surplus predicted comes at an uncertain time.

The Ukraine cereal prices are a market abberation (those millions in desperate need of food may describe it differently) which is likely to settle. Farmers across the globe have an amazing ability to respond to change, and in the fullness of time the situation will stabilise. Meanwhile good wishes and good health to all our readers.