Hello and welcome to This Week in Farming, your regular round-up of the best content on the Farmers Weekly website in the past seven days.
Every Saturday we round up five of the biggest topics that have got people talking, and look ahead to what’s coming up on the Farmers Weekly Podcast.
The Royal family and farming: A special relationship
Tributes to Queen Elizabeth have continued to pour in from the farming community amid the ongoing nationwide ceremonies to honour her remarkable life.
As the funeral cortege travelled from Balmoral to the Palace of Holyroodhouse on Sunday 11 September, tractors lined part of the route between Banchory and Aberdeen, a place with deep ties to the monarchy.
Farmer Rodney Blackhall, who organised the show of support, described the atmosphere during the procession as “poignant and surreal”.
In my editorial this week I also saluted the soothing effect of the countryside as a place of respite for the monarch to escape from the glare of public attention.
Some have described King Charles III’s period as heir to the throne as the longest apprenticeship in history. But what does he think about farming?
Our news and opinion editor Phil Clarke casts an eye over what the new monarch has had to say in the past – and asks whether his style of advocacy will have to change in the future.
With Prince William now taking responsibility for the Duchy of Cornwall estate, it’s all change for the many farming tenants there too.
We spoke to a number of them to find out what they thought would be different under the new Duke of Cornwall.
The business of government has almost totally been put on hold during this solemn period – but not quite – with the ramifications of a change of prime minister still being felt.
This week we learned that Zac Goldsmith’s period as a Defra minister has come to an end, prompting more speculation about the priorities of the new Defra secretary, Ranil Jayawardena, and his ministerial team.
An early test for the new cohort will be shepherding legislation on gene editing through parliament, with a war of words breaking out this week over whether the language in the draft bill was misleading to the public.
Once the funeral is over, Liz Truss and her cabinet will also shortly 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 Agriculture Act to avert a market failure in protected crops and other sectors as costs of production continue to race ahead of commodity prices.
Away from London, the business of farming continues.
With sheep breeding sales in full swing, there was a buoyant trade at Kelso ram sale with a new record average price of £999, despite sale numbers being up.
Justifying those high prices requires careful flock management, and this week we profiled how Carmarthenshire farm owner Carine Kidd and share farmer Peredur Owen tackled abortion and barren ewes in their flock, helping to lift profitability.
Over on the Thorseby Estate in Nottinghamshire, farm manager Will Baker has turned to native breeds to help manage the diverse range of parkland, heath and woodland under control.
“One of our goals is protecting the oak trees and the biodiversity they support – getting Sherwood Forest back to what it once was,” says Mr Baker.
Mixing it up
Why plant one variety of wheat when you can plant several? That’s been a growing debate in the arable community for a few years now.
This week it was the turn of farm manager Pete Cheek, of Godminster Farm in Somerset, to share his findings on a two-variety organic blend which he says helped raise yields by 0.8t/ha compared with fields of a single variety.
And if you’re after an expert view on a new drill, the machinery team have been out and about speaking to the people that know them best: the drivers.
In this piece Wiltshire farm manager Andrew Tucker gives his view on the Novag T-ForcePlus 440 while if you’ve been eyeing up a Virkar Dynamic then pop over here to find out how Oxfordshire arable farmer Ralph Castle has been getting on.
Listen to the FW Podcast
Don’t forget the latest edition of the Farmers Weekly podcast with Johann Tasker and Hugh Broom, too.
After last week’s special tribute to the Queen, there’ll be more royal content with an exclusive interview with the farmer who had a key role as a ceremonial royal bodyguard at the proclamation of King Charles III.
And they will also further examine the future for the 52,000ha Duchy of Cornwall estate as it passes to Prince William.
Listen here or bring us with you in the cab by downloading it from your usual podcast platform.