This past year both arable, and livestock farmers have had their patience tested to the limit.
The spring which was too dry, particularly in the south, was unhelpful for spring sown crops, and did not encourage grass growth. The early summer was very hot and dry, with no rain to encourage growth, and as soon as it was time to take a second cut of hay, or start the combines rolling, it has been cold and wet.
Not excessively so, but regular showers every few days playing havoc with grain moisture, which ideally should be 15% or less for sale and safe storage.
Autumn seems to have come early with a chill in the air, nights drawing in and exceptionally early evening dew.
In years like this it is an advantage to have one’s own combine. Those waiting for contractors to turn up, must have been on tender hooks, and some still are as they dodge the showers and watch their crops deteriorate in the fields.
Many grain stores are now full of damp grain which will require drying - a costly business. As prices fall yet again, this process will take its toll on income.
Grade I bread making wheats, have been disappointing as the weather has impacted upon quality. Wheat that should have received a premium price from millers are now classed as feed wheat. This not only results in a lower price for these varieties, it has also dropped the feed wheat market as that is now awash with surplus grain.
There are also acres of standing grass waiting to be cut for winter fodder; just one more concern as we head towards September.
This has been a year when farmers have some justification for the odd grumble.
There are reports that the sale of bottled water has this year exceeded those of cola and fizzy drinks. Consumers have bought in excess of 1.77billion litres of bottled plain water, and it is expected that this will rise to 4.7billion by 2021.
I find it quite extraordinary that people, particularly the young, are being encouraged to ‘develop hydration habits, by making bottled water the drink of choice’. It is of course right to stop the drinking of fizzy drinks which are all sugar-sweetened, and responsible for rotting teeth and chronic obesity, particularly amongst the young. However, why on earth are we not being encouraged them to drink tap water?
The UK has the safest water in the Western world, which is purified and tested at great cost. Unless there is a very good reason not to do so, surely tap water, a fraction of the cost of bottled water, should be promoted as the healthy affordable choice. Most bottled water originates from the same source and is fundamentally the same product.
The Forestry Commission report that fewer than 2.5million trees have been planted since 2015, despite the Tory manifesto promising to plant 11million by 2020.
During the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, there was a campaign to plant woodlands, with grants being offered to help with costs.
Woodland areas, particularly those of traditional native trees enhance any landscape, improve air quality, and it is worth noting that the UK is already a very densely wooded island.
When trees are in the headlines, it is generally related to council officials who think it is acceptable to fell beautiful healthy trees in town and city centres for reasons of health and safety, and cost saving.
Also house builders regularly who get away with felling ancient trees and woodland, much of which have stood their ground for hundreds of years.
Time would be better spent concentrating on protecting historic trees which are ‘inconvenient’ to bureaucrats and developers.