70 years later and some things never change … the soil we plant in

Following a weekend of Platinum Jubilee celebrations and reflections over Her Majesty’s 70-year reign how far has agriculture moved on.

In 1952 the average wheat yield was 1.2t/acre and the price was c£29/t and a 24hp Ferguson would cost around £365 equating to 10.5acres of wheat output.

In early 2022, the national average is 3.39t/acre and a spot price of c£200/ton with it taking more than 177 acres worth of wheat to pay for a tractor, for example a 180hp and a price tag of £120k+.

Similarly, land prices have risen from £56/acre in 1952 to over £6,000/acre ten years ago and now it is c£10,000 to £12,000 /acre.

One of the constants throughout the Queens reign has been the land, or more importantly, the soil. I’m sure many will have heard this sentiment, but my grandfather always said, “look after your soil and it will look after you, it’s your most valuable asset”. Every farmer looks after their soil but being caught out with for example, wetter autumns meaning ruts, smearing and compaction, sometimes looking after the soil is out of our hands to harvest the crop.

The new Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) which you can start applying for in summer 2022 aim to help farmers improve the organic matter of the soil, reduce poaching and runoff.

The SFI scheme requires you to choose your level of ambition (introductory or intermediate) from the arable soil’s standard or improved grassland standard entering as many or as few land parcels as you want.

The introduction of rolling applications, quarterly payments and options running in conjunction with existing Countryside Stewardship schemes is another addition to the scheme. Also, the ability to alter schemes at set intervals may look more attractive than previously thought. The only caveat is the same outcome cannot be paid for twice in the year.

Another area of the scheme is to support Improved grassland, meaning grass that is improved somehow, rolling, harrowing, applying fertiliser and controlling weeds.

With payment rates ranging from £22/ha to £40/ha for the arable soil standard and £28/ha to £58/ha for improved grassland soils, initially you may find that you are doing much of what is required without having to do any extra work.

The final and exact details of the SFI and Soil Standards are still being worked on but if you want more details please get in touch with Chris Muir.

Please get in touch with Chris Muir on 01904 489731.

Email chris.muir@stephenson.co.uk


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