Photo: Stephen Prest – Potato planting at Castle Farm (12th May 2016) showing tractors with a bedtiller, destoner and potato planter working in tandem.
After a long, cold and very wet spring suddenly everything changed and we have had some dry and reasonably warm weather which has enabled spring work to proceed at great pace. Spring corn and sugar beet have been drilled and potato planting is going well. Let’s hope for a good growing season from now on until harvest as we need a good crop to help compensate for very low prices. Wheat is the benchmark crop and it is only worth £102 per tonne at harvest time. (In 2010 wheat reached over £200 per tonne.)
One of the most important jobs farmers have to do at this time of year is put in an application for the Basic Payment Scheme subsidy . This is a payment from the European Union designed to support farmers throughout Europe. Sadly without this payment most farmers would be out of business.
In England the Rural Payments Agency is responsible for running the scheme. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own schemes. The rules are very strict and every farm is closely monitored, often using satellite technology to check fields and crops and to make sure that every claim is verified.
On the conservation side it is lovely to see the migrant birds returning and hear them singing all around us. Swallows are nesting in our barns again and swifts can be seen swooping around over the village doing their amazing acrobatics. I have four barn owl boxes around the farm and I am pleased that one has barn owls in it and two of the others have stock doves in them.