As we come into the Christmas period, it is difficult to come to mental grips with the changes that have come about in farming. The first that strikes me is the new proposed grant and research on “rewetting”.
So far, the amounts involved have not been spelled out but I have about 20 acres of peaty, high alkaline soil.
Some years ago, it was clear that the old drainage system had broken down so we contacted the Department of Agriculture’s land drainage section.
They did a full survey and laid out an intensive drainage scheme which we followed to the letter.
As well as putting in a full drainage system, we cleaned out the old watercourse down to the original level.
We have tried it in tillage. It gave wonderful barley but disastrous wheat
The work qualified for a grant that covered a significant proportion of the cost and, since then, we have transformed what was a fluke-infested marsh into highly productive silage ground.
We have tried it in tillage. It gave wonderful barley but disastrous wheat and the weak peaty structure meant that except in a very dry autumn, it was impossible to save the straw. It is clear that its best use is in a grass clover sward and we always take a second or third cut of silage and give the aftergrass a light grazing after the final cut.
Would I rewet it? Not unless I was compelled to. In any event, I would like to see figures worked out that took account of the large amounts of carbon dioxide absorbing grass that is produced every year compared with the breakdown of carbon-emitting peat from the field.
[...] these fringe payments, even though I expect them to be increased in the new CAP, will go nowhere near making up for the deductions
It would be easy to block the main drain so carefully put in but to my mind at least, it would be such a waste.
On a brighter note, we have received the second tranche of the basic farm payment and I am waiting confidently for the protein payment on my beans and the straw incorporation payment for ploughing down the shredded oaten and oilseed rape straw.
I am glad that we are to get more genetic information on the dairy-beef animals coming up for sale
But these fringe payments, even though I expect them to be increased in the new CAP, will go nowhere near making up for the deductions for the front-loading, flat-rate eco scheme and continuing convergence but we can only operate within the policy as it is handed down.
As regards actual farming, pretty well all the cattle are in but it will be some weeks before we have any beef to sell. I am glad that we are to get more genetic information on the dairy-beef animals coming up for sale on the mart boards in the new year.