Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 February 2018

EU should enforce compatibility on GPS makers

Why isn't there a bonus for a higher quality grain?
Why isn't there a bonus for a higher quality grain?
Helen Harris

Helen Harris

When everyone else is making new year resolutions, my husband Phil sees January as a time to look at new machinery.

It is also a great time to see what's going on in the whole tillage sector. There are plenty of tillage conferences and machinery shows at this time of the year to torment farmers. When the land is as wet as it is now, there is very little field work that can be done.

We also had an unwanted visitor in the form of Storm Frank, who blew a corner off a shed and pulled another off its pillars. If the second one had come down, it would have landed on the dryer.

We were more worried about the dryer than the roof. It was very stressful watching from the house and seeing galvanise flapping like a rag in the wind and not being able to do anything about it.

When looking at new machinery we've realised that the new technology such as GPS in new machinery is not compatible with other makes of technology.

We have a GPS unit but many other makes are not compatible with it. I think the EU should legislate for manufacturers to produce comaptible technology that would enable different machines and systems 'talk' to each other.

On the same subject I would love if all the manufacturers of bait boxes were obliged to put the same lock on all of them. I have a heap of different keys for all the different bait boxes. I feel like a prison warden going around with my big bunch of keys - it's a right pain.

While Phil is looking at fancy new toys he can't afford, I am looking at all our finances.

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When we sold wheat green last August we were paid and given a sheet with a breakdown of the moisture and bushel.

This got me thinking because my brother and his wife (John and Sylvia Powell), who are dairy farmers, get a bonus of 5-7c per litre if their milk is high in butterfat or protein.

Grain dockets

My mum and dad (George and Frieda) get a bonus of 12c per kg for higher quality beef. How come we don't get anything extra if we produce a higher quality grain? All you see on grain dockets are deductions for ad-mix and moistures.

The other costs that I have been looking at are the machinery costs per acre. I calculated our growing costs last autumn using all the Teagasc figures for the machinery costs.

When we sat down with our Teagasc advisor Ivan Whitten we discovered our machinery costs (€185/ac) were at the top end of the Teagasc range (€160-€183/ac).

The reason is probably because we pay off our machinery in a shorter amount of time. If I'm being honest, it's also because we are way over-mechanised for the size of our farm.

Looking at the bank balance and the amount of shiny paint in the yard I didn't need an advisor to work that out.

One of our costs is hopefully coming down this coming year. Rumour has it that fertiliser is going to take a big drop in price.

Usually the full drop doesn't get passed to the farmer, but I still expect a price decrease.

The sprays are a worry because it's not so much the price but the resistance that we keep hearing about. If they don't work as well as they should we may not know until we cut the crop and then its too late.

Philip and Helen Harris are tillage farmers in Co Kildare. Follow them on twitter @kildarefarmer.

Indo Farming