Back in the Blogging Seat.... - Agrii - Connecting Agri-science with farming

David Neale Blog

March 14, 2012

Back in the Blogging Seat….

I am back in the blogging seat after six weeks of talks around the UK with much to commentate on!

Where is the Water?

Today, seven Southern Water Companies announced restrictions on use of water! Already at this stage we can see how serious this is with rivers and reservoirs at around 50% of expected levels. The bore hole on the farm where I live has run dry – this has never been known in living memory. Water companies warn of challenges for supplies to London and the Olympics! Some forecasters suggest by 2030 Cambridge will have similar weather conditions to the South of France! As for the Paris Basin and other parts of Europe, what are the consequences on food security? As part of our forward thinking R&D we will be paying particular attention to drought traits in crops and methods of establishment to ensure maximum rooting capacity for plants. Add to this our involvement in the Harper Adams Soil and Water Management Centre, where we and others are focussing on understanding and helping soils and structures, you can see we are already working towards answers for you and your farm businesses.

Water is one of the most precious products on the planet for crop production and agriculture takes around 70% of fresh water annually! New controls on usage, storage and distribution are all needed – maybe more canals, reservoirs and links to Scottish and Welsh facilities are required – provided they let us!!!! Give me your thoughts from your part of the world (and yes I know Scotland and Wales have plenty of it for now!).

On the World Stage the Weather is Playing Games Also

South American drought on Maize crops, rains in Australia, extreme cold in Canada and Eastern Europe, through to Russia at below minus 25 degrees with limited snow cover for crop protection. All of this has got traders and fund managers speculating on world yields and stocks. With Maize at a critical stock to use ratio this is giving strength to current wheat values and exports going to the US as well as Holland and other destinations. With the US using 40% of its Maize for ethanol (around 140 million tonnes) you can see the focus is on plans for planting – will it be Maize or Soya? Bear in mind around 60% of all US Soya will head to China to feed those Pigs!

With restrictions on subsidised ethanol coming into Europe from the US, all eyes are on the UK ethanol plants and with the Hull plant due to come on stream we are all keen to hear of progress with the Ensus plant at Teeside. I am hopeful that we will have a new three million tonne UK demand for next year – that will put pressure on all UK traditional buyers.

There are many factors that need building into the farm business plan right now so why not get in touch or speak with our team around the UK – market volatility is here to stay, I say it enough times. Keep doing a little and often and aim for that best average price!

UK Winter Plantings, What Prospect Spring Sowings ?

The AHDB/HGCA Winter Planting Survey results show that, as at 1 December 2011, the England and Wales area planted to winter cereals and oilseed rape was 5% higher than 2010 at 2.98Mha. Wheat area was up 3%, barley up 9%, oats up 13% and oilseed rape up 6%. The survey suggests that UK oilseed rape area is at a new record and confirmation of this will be sought in the summer. The expansion in area follows generally favourable autumn weather in 2011 and strong price incentives. Scottish wheat plantings are estimated 14% below 2010 at 98,626ha by the Government.  Barley is forecast down 3%, oats down 16%, and oilseed rape is down 3% due to a wet autumn which made planting difficult. The declines in Scotland partly offset the increases in winter crop areas seen in England and Wales

With the drought causing planting concerns for Veg and Beet, extra pressure is building on spring barley seed and other spring crops. Make sure you speak with your local agronomist or Agrii Seed Team contact.

Disease Alert

Firstly Yellow and Brown Rust – there are serious concerns about the HGCA list data and I remind you the scores are on average years. From our own work we see continued breakdown in resistance of many of the current varieties. Make sure that fields are being carefully looked at as this warm weather stimulates rapid growth. With wheat values where they are it has to be right to invest early before things run away from you – speak to your Agrii agronomist for the latest updates and solutions.

Light Leaf Spot – we have said it’s moving South and now it’s here with a vengeance! Many popular varieties’ down South are not as strong as the ones in Scotland and are quickly coming under pressure and it is a real yield robber. We have plenty of experience from our Northern teams so make sure you discuss it with us NOW! Not for the North to be complacent as they have Phoma heading up to them!

Spring Meetings

Thirty six farmer meetings in the last six weeks from Inverness to the South West and East to West with OSR guru and colleague Philip Marr. Great meetings with large farmer numbers where we have been sharing our up to date knowledge on diseases, establishments, GAI’s, Soil N Mins, Varieties, Markets and more. These are great places to share information and benefit production. We hope to see you at one of our summer events, for more information visit our Agrii Events page on the website

Finally, it’s all happening at down – town Cheltenham!

The Festival hits Cheltenham this week so rather than market speculation how about a flutter with the crowds – looks like a near sell out for the four days racing! I am only going for one day unfortunately! Mix with the great Irish racing public and enjoy the fantastic setting in the Cotswolds. Easy for me to get there but what a boost it is for tourism and local business. Want to witness all walks of life together enjoying the great sport of National Hunt Racing? Then why not make a date for next year with me? I can help you lose your shirt!

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