Focus on farmers: increases in input prices require realistic budgeting

It seems like now is the right time to own commodities as prices continue to rise. As farmers, everything is going great if you bought your nitrogen in June and still haven’t sold your wheat or OSR.

Those in this position may feel very smug, but for the rest of us who aren’t quite right, very strategic decisions, based on realistic budgeting, are going to have to be made.

Budgets for the 2022 harvest, which were presented in June, now show sales up 13% (based on November 2022 futures) and in the same breath rising input costs, on average , 25% (based on current nitrogen prices, ag chems and so on).

See also: Why energy crops can close the BPS income gap

About the Author

Jack Hopkins

Editor of Focus on Arable Farmers

Jack Hopkins is a farm manager on a 730 ha AHDB watch farm in North Herefordshire on predominantly silty clay loam soils. Crops include wheat, barley, rapeseed, spring oats and peas, as well as grasslands that support a herd of 1,000 ewes and 25 purebred Hereford cattle.

Some quick calculations on effective nitrogen ratios are worth doing at current prices. This will help determine if typical applications of 180-200 kg / ha can be justified.

It is also worth using a return based on a five-year average for this exercise, not the return we would like to achieve.

For several years, we have been experimenting, in a modest way, with leaf N.

The coming season looks like a good opportunity to roll out this approach further to try to get better nitrogen efficiency and possibly reduce the total amount we apply.

Again, in the spring, it will really be necessary to judge the winter crops on their potential, so as not to waste expensive inputs.

However, before we can worry about it, we have to put the crop in the ground.

Our fall drilling campaign began on September 19 and a big seven day push got us to drill 60% of our planned area.

This is a later start date than expected due to the postponement of seed deliveries.

Our proactive approach to the whole logistical nightmare meant that several trips were made to collect our own seeds, so we could at least get started.

Since then we have had 80mm of rain in nine days which will make the second half of the campaign a bit more difficult.

Fortunately, high pressure is forecast for the coming week, so hopefully we will get back to that and finish the job.

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