This Week in Agriculture: Royal Farms, Rams and the Drilling Debates


Hello and welcome to This Week in Farming, your regular roundup of the best content on the weekly farmers website in the last seven days.

Every Saturday, we round up five of the biggest topics that got people talking, and look forward to what happens on the weekly farmers Podcast.

The royal family and agriculture: a privileged relationship

Tributes to Queen Elizabeth continued to pour in from the farming community amid ongoing national ceremonies to honor her remarkable life.

As the funeral cortege made its way from Balmoral to the Palace of Holyroodhouse on Sunday September 11, tractors traced part of the route between Banchory and Aberdeen, a place closely linked to the monarchy.

Farmer Rodney Blackhall, who organized the support showdescribed the atmosphere during the procession as “poignant and surreal”.

In my editorial this week, I also hailed the calming effect of the countryside as a place of respite for the monarch. escape the public eye.

Some have described King Charles III’s time as heir to the throne as the longest apprenticeship in history. But what about agriculture?

Our News and Opinion Editor Phil Clarke takes a look at what the new monarch must have said in the past – and asks if his advocacy style will need to change in the future.

With Prince William now taking responsibility for the Duchy of Cornwall estate, everything is changing for the many agricultural tenants as well.

We spoke to a number of them to find out what they thought was different under the new Duke of Cornwall.

Defra Proceedings

Government business has been almost completely suspended during this solemn period – but not quite – with the ramifications of a change in Prime Minister still being felt.

This week we learned that Zac Goldsmith’s term as Defra Minister has come to an end, sparking further speculation about the priorities of new Defra Secretary Ranil Jayawardena and his ministerial team.

A first test for the new cohort will be to pass gene-editing legislation through parliament, with a the war of words breaks out this week whether the wording of the draft bill misleads the public.

After the funeral is over, Liz Truss and her firm will also soon find their plan to tackle the cost of living crisis back in the spotlight.

This week the NFU warned that the government must use its powers under the Farm Act to avoid market failure in protected crops and other sectors as production costs continue to outpace commodity prices.

Sale season

Far from London, agricultural activity continues.

As sheep breeding sales were in full swing, Kelso’s ram trade was buoyant with a new record average price of £999although the number of sales is on the rise.

Justifying these high prices requires careful herd management, and this week we described how Carmarthenshire farm owner Carine Kidd and farmer Peredur Owen fought against abortion and sterile sheep in their flockhelping to increase profitability.

On the Thorseby estate in Nottinghamshire, farm manager Will Baker has focused on indigenous races to help manage the diversity of parklands, heathland and woodland under control.

“One of our goals is to protect the oak trees and the biodiversity they support, bringing Sherwood Forest back to what it once was,” says Mr Baker.

To mix together

Why plant one variety of wheat when you can plant several? This has been the subject of growing debate in the agricultural community for some years now.

This week it was farm manager Pete Cheek’s turn, from Godminster Farm in Somerset, to share his findings on a two-variety organic mix he says will helped increase yields by 0.8 t/ha compared to fields of a single variety.

And if you’re looking for expert advice on a new drill, the machinery team has reached out to the people who know them best: the drivers.

In this song Wiltshire farm manager Andrew Tucker gives his opinion on the Novag T-ForcePlus 440 while if you’ve been eyeing a Virkar Dynamic then go through here to find out how Oxfordshire farmer Ralph Castle is doing.

Listen to the FW podcast

Don’t forget the latest edition of the weekly farmers podcast with Johann Tasker and Hugh Broom as well.

Following last week’s special tribute to the Queen, there will be more royal content with an exclusive interview with the farmer who played a key role as royal ceremonial bodyguard during the proclamation of King Charles III .

And they will also take a closer look at the future of the Duchy of Cornwall’s 52,000ha estate when it passes to Prince William.

listen now or take us with you in the taxi by downloading it from your usual podcast platform.


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