Survey shows more straw is being baled on East of England farms this summer

PUBLISHED: 08:19 10 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:00 10 August 2018

Straw bales being collected from a field near Shouldham. Picture: Ian Burt

Straw bales being collected from a field near Shouldham. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

Survey results show more straw has been baled on UK farms this year – with a marked increase across East Anglia.

According to a snap market survey carried out by Savills rural research, there has been a 15pc increase in the area of cereal crops baled this year, with particularly high increases recorded in the east of England.

Emily Norton head of Savills rural research said: “Our survey finds that virtually no barley straw has been left unbaled, and whereas normally about half of all wheat straw is baled, this year a whopping 80pc has been baled.

“We’re expecting more survey results this week as harvest wraps up across most of the country ahead of the change in weather, but at this stage, our snap survey confirms increased market availability of straw products across the UK. This however will offer scant comfort to livestock farmers already facing severe fodder shortages as a result of the drought.”

Arable farmers are being urged to bale straw this summer rather than chopping it, to help livestock farmers facing a shortage of animal feed.

The lack of grass growth during the dry summer has meant some East Anglian stockmen are feeding their animals with fodder supplies usually reserved for the winter – prompting concerns of fodder shortages later in the year.

While the survey shows oilseed rape straw baling leapt to 20pc of the area grown, the overall results say 30pc of survey respondents would be baling no straw at all, despite record straw prices.

Henry Barringer, of Savills’ food and farming team in Norwich, said: “The vast majority of our clients are baling more straw in the east this year. There are some, however, who aren’t baling, especially where farm soil management policies require the straw to be incorporated.”

It is hoped that the increased amount of straw baled will make up for variability in yields – 34pc of surveyed land in the east was reported to be below average yields.

National Farmers’ Union vice president Stuart Roberts said he was baling all straw at his farm this year and offering it to livestock farmers further afield in what he called a case of “corn helping horn”.

The Savills straw survey, which so far includes 32,000 hectares, is still open for submissions.

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