War and water (or lack of it) | Voice of a Farmer

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Rising costs due to the Ukraine war combined with dry weather spell challenges for farmers, says James Cossins.
Silaging on Rawston Farm in the late 1960s

As has been well publicised April was a very dry month, with only 33mm, or one and half inches, of rain recorded in the month at Rawston Farm. The winter crops seem to be surviving well, with the oilseeds well out in their yellow flowers. The spring crops desperately need a good drink, however, or yields will be reduced considerably. We are currently sowing maize, our final crop of the spring.
With the current high cost of fertiliser, we have put a cover of farmyard manure on the fields before ploughing. We hope this will give the crop a good boost to its growth without having to add extra fertiliser.
The cattle grazing enjoys the dry weather whilst the grass continues to grow. There is little poaching of
the fields, and they are able to utilise the grass to good effect. The milking cows have certainly benefited from going out to grass, and we have been able to save on feeding silage and reduced the amount of
bought-in feed that they require in the winter.
We now look forward to silage- making, aiming for good quality feed for next winter. Getting the balance between quality and quantity can be challenging, and there is a trend towards cutting more often to improve the quality. Sometimes the quantity can be sacrificed if we don’t get sufficient moisture for the following cuts.

Fun and games
In my youth I was very involved with the Young Farmers Organisation, my local club being Blandford – in fact this is where I met my wife Barbara, who was a farmer’s daughter. I have recently been recycled into being involved again with Blandford on their advisory committee.
Each year there is a County Rally where all the clubs in Dorset compete with each other in many varied events. I was asked to help with the field events, which involved tractor driving, quad bike handling, tying a
load of straw bales, to name a few. A great time was had, with all competitors thoroughly enjoying
themselves. The Young Farmers movement is a tremendous organisation to belong to where young people can have lots of fun, meet new friends and learn about life in the countryside. The name ‘Young Farmers’ may be a little off-putting, but anyone under the age of 26 can join in. I am sure by looking at social media or the YFC website you will be able find the details and contacts of your local club; see what goes on and
maybe join in!

Shortages predicted
The effect of the war in Ukraine seems to be having far-reaching consequences for our everyday lives now. With energy prices sky high it seems food prices and availability are being affected. Vegetable oil (in the form of sunflower oil) is being rationed in some shops, with home-grown oilseed being looked at as a
replacement. Harvesting oilseeds in the UK will take place in July, and hopefully making up for any shortfall. Maybe in the UK we should look at the possibility of growing more sunflowers. It is also predicted that there
may be a shortage of eggs in the summer, with many producers deciding that it is uneconomical at the moment to produce eggs, due to high feed costs. I think the Government needs a wake-up call on food security for this country and not rely on imports to make up for any shortfall.
Finally, let’s hope for some rain for farmers and gardeners whilst we are in the growing season and not to save it up for the harvesting!

by James Cossins

Sponsored by: Trethowans – Law as it should be

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