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March 2010


FCG Business Briefing Issue 5 Introduction—Gerard Finnan (Sherborne) Welcome to the latest issue of the FCG Business Briefing. This months issue is again full of topical farm management tips and deadline reminders. Our articles provide you with independent facts backed by a follow up contact to provide you with further information if required. The variety of subjects and depth of knowledge highlight the diversity of skills within our group of consultants. Email/contact our consultants today if there is a topic below of interest to you or contact me, Gerard Finnan, at NVZ Derogations – Are You Over The limit? –Ian Browne (Stafford) The new NVZ year has started and those farmers requiring a derogation to use the 250kg N / ha limit for organic N ( as compared to the standard 170 kg N / ha ) must now apply for it by 31st March 2010. This is available for those with 80+% of their farm in grassland. There is a new booklet available from Defra or on their web site at waterquality/diffuse/nitrate/documents/leaflet-5a-guidance-for-farm-in-nvz.pdf. The new booklet Leaflet 5a ( published in Dec 2009 ) gives details on how to apply. Contact Your local FCG Consultant who can clarify your stocking density according to the DEFRA parameters or Ian Browne at

Analyse Your Silages Regularly- Max Sealy (Chippenham)

Inside this issue: SFP




Naked Acres Wanted


Soil Protection Review


Dairy Cake


Bull Fertility


Silage Sheets


Many farms on high maize diets noticed a decline in milk butterfat during January and February and also a rise in the incidence of acidosis and related issues. Regular analysis of maize silage on a monthly basis through the winter has been shown to reveal that starch degradation rates (measured by the “a” fraction on your silage analysis) increased dramatically over the winter period as the maize silage continued to change chemically in the clamp. We were recently shown some work on a farm, measured by Biotal, where the percentage of starch that degrades quickly, had increased from 8% at harvest to 36% in January. It is well worth taking this into account when looking at ration formulations and compensating by reducing other starch ingredients such as wheat and crimped maize grain over the winter period, or indeed, increasing the proportion of grass silage or other sources of effective fibre fed to ensure a healthy rumen. With cereals being very cheap this winter there has been a tendency to feed high levels and whilst they can form a useful part in a well balanced diet, it is essential to know what is happening to the base forage in order to make the right decisions to maximise margins. For more information contact Max Sealy on

The Farm Consultancy Group Offices: Andover 01264 367900, Carmarthen 01267 275778, Chippenham 01249 750151, Gloucester 01452 790364, Helston 01326 280886, Lincoln 01522 813950, Louth 01507 604040, Sherborne 01935 850093, Stafford 01782 796370,

FCG Business Briefing

March 2010

Where tha’s Muck tha’s Money!-Mike Lowe (Helston) Fertiliser prices have been creeping up again with ammonium nitrate nearly 40% up on the low of around £175/tonne several months ago. If we value 34.5% N at £240/tonne, 46% Phosphate at £300/tonne, and 60% Potash at £330/tonne, then a tonne of cow slurry is worth £3.37 in its undiluted form. This means that an application of 20 tonnes/acre (50tonnes/Ha), the maximum recommended dose on grassland according to COGAP, is worth £67.50 per acre. If the slurry had been diluted with an equal amount of rain water, then the value would be halved. These figures allow for the available N and would be considerably less for autumn applications. Although many livestock farmers are faced with building expensive storage for NVZs, the extra fertilising value of spring applications does offer considerable cost saving in purchased fertiliser. Incidentally the same FYM is worth around £146/acre! For more information contact Mike Lowe at

Planning Ahead for Your 2010 SFP Claim- James More ( Louth) Maps- All farmers should now have received corrected maps where amendments were returned within 28 days of receiving originals. The majority where changes were returned after 28 days should now have corrected maps on farm. If you have not received your corrected maps then ring RPA to chase them up. By mid January RPA had sent maps to 107,000 farmers. 50,000 had returned corrections, 75% of which were within the 28 days period and 57,000 have been recorded as correct. Entitlements- If you are wishing to transfer Entitlements in or out of your business for 2010 then the deadline is the 4 April to return your completed RLE1 forms. However as that date is Easter Sunday then you should ensure your forms are with RPA by the end of March. For more information, contact James More at

HLS Applications-June Peachey (Gloucester) Natural England are still actively seeking farms within the various target areas to apply for Higher Level Stewardship. They are also accepting applications from farms outside of these areas, providing they contribute to the overall enhancement of the countryside. The average payment per agreement from 29/01/10 statistics, is in excess of £18,000 per year, for 10 years. In addition to the annual payments, capital costs can also be claimed in respect of several items, including fencing, walling, tree work, ponds, water supply, gates and historical building restoration. I am currently dealing with several applications for FCG, from Newcastle to Bristol. So if you would like to be considered for an application and need help, please contact June Peachey at

NAKED ACRES WANTED – Charles Holt ( Lincoln) If you have any land for which you do not have adequate entitlements, commonly called “naked acres”, then do call me in the office. Renting this land out, on paper, is likely to be worth approximately £50 per acre or about £120 per hectare to you. Also, if you have any entitlements for sale or you are looking for entitlements, then again, do call me. Trade is picking up. Contact Charles Holt at Page 2 The Farm Consultancy Group Offices: Andover 01264 367900, Carmarthen 01267 275778, Chippenham 01249 750151, Gloucester 01452 790364, Helston 01326 280886, Lincoln 01522 813950, Louth 01507 604040, Sherborne 01935 850093, Stafford 01782 796370,

FCG Business Briefing

March 2010

3% deductions in SFP for not updating Soil Protection Review Booklets – Chris White (Andover) All farmers who are claiming Single Farm Payments should have completed a Cross Compliance Soil Protection Review. A review of the year 2009 and actions planned for 2010 were sent out for completion by all farmers last year. If this review has not been completed at the time of inspection then there will be an automatic 3% deduction in Single Farm Payments. Farms should also have started completing the 2010 soil protection review which is a much more comprehensive document. As well as reductions in single farm payments, not completing and updating a soil protection review could result in insurance claims being refused where flooding or soil erosion has led to accidents. In this case the land owner becomes responsible. Contact Chris White at for more information.

The Tale of 2 Cakes-Mike Lowe ( Helston) Of these two 18% dairy cakes, which one is 13.4ME and which is only 11.8ME.? Both are sold as 13.3ME (MJ/kg DM) but the analysis results say otherwise! Even without laboratory analyses, the writing is on the wall for the low energy offering. A quick look at the ingredient list showed the principle ingredient to be Soya hulls, followed by Rapeseed, Palm Kernel and Wheatfeed, so no high energy ingredients in sight! But what of the effect of feeding these? Well the sums go as follows, if 8kg were fed – 8kg x 87% dry matter x 1.6MJ (13.4 -11.8MJ) = 11.1MJ energy difference. This equates to a little over 2 litres milk which at 25p = 50p/cow/day or £1500 per 100 cows/month. Yes, the better cake was slightly dearer and in the example would set you back £120 per month more, but that is insignificant. So what are the lessons? Get cakes analysed or at the very least read the ingredient declaration. Although the bandings used are not tremendously helpful, there is a useful break point. Molasses is usually included at 5 to 7%, so anything after molasses is only a minor ingredient. Above molasses, you normally find 4 to 6 ingredients and these are what largely define the energy of the formulation. If cereals, pulps and soya are nowhere to be seen, beware! For more information contact Mike Lowe at

Are you at risk of Prosecution under the Gangmaster Licensing Act 2004?Chris White (Andover) The answer may be yes if you use a contract milker or other labour provider who is not licensed by Gangmaster Licensing Authority. A user of labour from a non licensed provider may be liable to up to 6 months imprisonment and a fine. All providers of labour in agriculture need to be registered with the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. The act requires farmers who are supplied with labour to only use GLA licensed labour providers. Any business that uses sub-contracted labour (i.e. labour provided to you by another labour provider) becomes a labour user and must use a licensed gangmaster, unless it is farm to farm in which case certain rules apply. It is illegal to use workers or services by an unlicensed labour provider. The GLA public register shows a list of all labour providers who are licensed or who have applied for a license and a list of the minimum requirements for users of contract services. To check this website go to http:// Contact Chris White at for more information. Page 3 The Farm Consultancy Group Offices: Andover 01264 367900, Carmarthen 01267 275778, Chippenham 01249 750151, Gloucester 01452 790364, Helston 01326 280886, Lincoln 01522 813950, Louth 01507 604040, Sherborne 01935 850093, Stafford 01782 796370,

FCG Business Briefing

March 2010

What a lot of Bull!- James Shenton (Sherborne) Many fertility disasters are due to bulls underperforming. Before bringing a bull into the herd a simple blood test can confirm a bull is clear of BVD and IBR. For other diseases such as Leptospirosis etc vaccines are available and a naive animal should be vaccinated. Campylobacter can also cause a problem with fertility and new bulls should be sheath washed and treated to prevent transmission to the cows. Fertility can be checked by your local vet by analysing a semen sample under a microscope. If you are feeling brave, testicle size is a good indicator of fertility and a bull aged 15 months or more should have a scrotal circumference of more than 30cm. For more Information contact James Shenton on

Five Ways To Eliminate the Thieves Of Time- Gerard Finnan (Sherborne) Time is a precious commodity which seems to be in shorter supply today in a world of technology that is supposed to help us free up some spare time. The following five tips can help you get back to the basics of how you manage yourselves and the technology in relation to time. ♦ ♦

♦ ♦ ♦

Prioritise & Stay Focused- Evaluate your total workload and prioritise. List 1-2 items that absolutely must be done each day. Delegate As Much As You Can – Ditch the idea that nobody can do what you can do the way that you can do it. With the right systems and as simple a business as possible, you can properly delegate the day to day work. This will free up your time to manage the business. Beware the difference between delegating and abdicating responsibility! Set & Meet Deadlines for Yourself And Employees- Work expands to fill the time so set expectations with deadlines. Don't Postpone Unpleasant Tasks- It is best to take care of important matters that are unpleasant immediately, otherwise they will become a distraction and more acute with time. Learn To Say No (Politely)- Beware of over commitment. When confronted with an opportunity , don’t commit immediately. Declining is better than saying yes and not delivering on time or not at all.

For more information contact Gerard Finnan at

EVICTION STOPPED: Don’t Put Your Head in the Sand!-Charles Holt ( Lincoln) I am delighted to be able to say that in the last month I have managed to prevent a client of ours from being evicted from his farm. Without breaching confidentiality, it involves a farm of several hundred acres with cattle, arable and other enterprises. The farmer had defaulted on a loan, before I was called in to help the business through his crisis. His lack of profitability, poor credit record and the so -called “credit crunch” made it impossible for me to find any bank to refinance him. Consequently the bank sought and obtained a possession order for the farm which would have seen him, his wife and his family evicted from the property. Prior to the court hearing to bring the possession order into effect, I had been working with the solicitor and others to try to find a way of raising cash to keep him on the farm, in ownership, and still farming. We succeeded, and averted a court hearing by less than 24 hours. Out of the jaws of defeat we have managed to snatch a victory, which will give us the breathing space to, we hope, refinance the farm and put him on a more secure footing. If you hear of anyone in this sort of situation then please contact us, in confidence, as frequently we can provide help and innovative solutions where none seem obvious. Contact your local FCG office or Charles Holt at Page 4 The Farm Consultancy Group Offices: Andover 01264 367900, Carmarthen 01267 275778, Chippenham 01249 750151, Gloucester 01452 790364, Helston 01326 280886, Lincoln 01522 813950, Louth 01507 604040, Sherborne 01935 850093, Stafford 01782 796370,

FCG Business Briefing

March 2010

NOT ALL SILAGE SHEETS ARE THE SAME- Max Sealy (Chippenham) In the last couple of years there has been a lot of interest in the use of clear plastic sheeting underneath both black plastic and the heavier gauge sheets now commonly used on silage clamps. Research at Michigan State University has analysed the oxygen transmission rates (OTR) of a wide variety of types of silage sheet covers and found differences in the OTR, measured in cm3 of oxygen per metre square of sheet in a 24 hour period, ranging from 65 to over 6,000 on clear sheets that are widely marketed in this country. There is a new type of Sheet called Silostop coming out this year (version 2) that has an even lower OTR, measured in the same trial at 15. Silage sheeting and covering is expensive, time consuming and very important in producing quality silage. It is essential that the best sheets are used and before buying you should ask for the oxygen transmission rates to ensure that you are buying the highest quality material available. For more information contact Max Sealy on

FCG Business FACTS AND FIGURES Bank Base Rates %


March 2010




Entitlement Trading Values


Exchange Rates

(at 10/03/2010)

£1 buys €1.09

€1 buys £0.92



$1 buys £0.67



$1 buys €0.74



Times 2009 claim

US 0.25

Feb 2010




12 months ago




£1 buys $1.50 €1 buys $1.36

Straights Prices £/t Ex Store

(at 10/03/2010)

Last Month

Soya Spot




Feed Wheat Spot (Ex Farm)





Rapeseed meal





Sugar Beet Pulp (Home)









Fertiliser Prices £/t

(at 10/03/2010) 28T

Last Month



3.45 % N 20:10:10

Milk Commodity Prices £tonne

Share Prices @ 10/03/2010

March 2010

12 months ago

FEB 09

FEB 10



















Electricity Prices

Source Dairy Co.

Source (CHARLES HOLT Consultancy)










The Farm Consultancy Group Distributed throughout England & Wales, FCG exists to help rural businesses prosper. Each of our nine offices can offer a variety of Farm Consultancy services, some general and some very specific. Whichever office you approach, you will find an enthusiastic and professional response to your enquiry. To visit our website please click on the link below.

Andover 01264 367900 Carmarthen 01267 275778 Chippenham 01249 750151 Gloucester 01452 790364 Helston 01326 280886 Lincoln 01522 813950 Louth 01507 604040 Sherborne 01935 850093 Stafford 01782 796370

Disclaimer: Whilst every care is taken to provide accurate information, no liability can be accepted for any omission or inaccuracy of fact or opinion. These comments are for general guidance only. For specific recommendations consult the signposted consultant. Page 5 The Farm Consultancy Group Offices: Andover 01264 367900, Carmarthen 01267 275778, Chippenham 01249 750151, Gloucester 01452 790364, Helston 01326 280886, Lincoln 01522 813950, Louth 01507 604040, Sherborne 01935 850093, Stafford 01782 796370,

March 2010 Farm Business Management Newsletter  

A collection of Farm Business Information, tipsand articles from the leading independent UK farm management consultancy practice , The Farm...