Trucks are too heavy for fields, even if they save time on straw
Published 06/08/2014 | 02:30
One of the biggest pluses of winter barley production is evident as you look across the ditches. Fields are harvested, straw is baled and removed. Job done and it is still the first week August.
Take the advantage of the cleared fields now for stubble cultivation, especially for brome and wild oat control. It's also a chance to spread lime in good conditions, to apply organic manures on stubble, remove trees knocked down during the storms and get any drainage works completed.
One thing I have noticed is the amount of bales stacked in the middle of fields for loading onto lorries which are being driven directly into the fields.
Compaction is a huge issue in cereal production. A loaded articulated truck weighs upward of 25t being carried on 14 hard-walled narrow tyres. Don't ruin your land in the process of extracting the lowest value commodity you produce just because of expediency.
So far this harvest has been a doddle, with good to average yields at low moistures and clean crops that are easy on man and machine to harvest.
However, profit will be hard come by this year. The main problem all crops are suffering from is high production costs. Costs can be divided into three categories: costs that are under your control as an individual; costs that are in the control of us as an industry; and costs that are purely external and immune to our influence.
One cost that we as an industry have to tackle is land rental costs. While land rental costs are determined by the market, it's important to remember that you as an individual are a member of this market and are influencing the land price.
If conacre land is too dear and won't leave a profit, why should it be you who is taking it on to work at a loss? Often the excuse given is that the extra land is needed to spread the machinery costs. I see this as looking at the problem the wrong way around.