Farmer comment 14 February

Published 14 February 14

Hardly surprisingly the weather dominates our farmer comments this week. While one contributor credits improvements in soil structure with the way the pasture is standing up to the conditions, another has to juggle cow housing as a third of his pasture is under water.

“It’s pretty wet here,” says Keith Davis, who milks on the banks of the River Severn. “But no wetter than I’ve seen it in the past. We do have some standing water, but I’ve seen it much worse.

“I think the fact we’re not suffering as much as we have done in the past, is because soil structure on much of the land has improved. The dry conditions we experienced last summer meant we had some cracking in the soil, which has helped and we slit aerated some areas. You can really see how much better those areas have done.

“We can’t entertain the idea of cattle going out yet but give us four or five dry days and we could start grazing. Even if that means bringing them back in later, at least we will have got some grass into the cows and we really need to start setting up our wedge.”

John Owen, who farms in Carmarthen, admits although conditions are ‘diabolical’ with him they are not as bad as we are seeing on the Somerset levels and in the Thames Valley.

“This time of year we’d usually have cows out during the day but there is no way we can get anything out,” explains John. “This means we have to juggle housing, as we’ve calved over a 100 cows already and are having to find space for them all.

“At the moment, we have about one third of the pasture under water – it’s come down from a half – and although soil temperatures are 6°C everything is so water logged, and the plant’s root structure seems to have rotted away, that we simple don’t have the grass there even if we could get on it.

“After last winter’s cold conditions, it does seem to be one challenge after another. You don’t get bored in this job!”