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Straw & Forage - to bale or not to bale?


The straw market appears to be booming, the Farmers Weekly recently reported prices over £100 per tonne and the talk in the pub is higher still.

To bale or not to bale; it is an interesting debate.

Figure 1 Straw prices from AHDB Dairy website.
The fertiliser guide RB209 states that if you remove only grain from a crop of wheat you take off 7.8kg/t of Phosphate and 5.6 kg/t of Potash, whilst this is 8.4kg/t and 10.4kg/t respectively when you remove straw as well. Assume that you remove nine tonnes per hectare of grain, this is 5.4t/ha phosphate and 43.2kg/ha potash. Using a price of £290 per tonne of Triple Super Phosphate and a £263.00 per tonne price of Muriate of Potash this equates to £3.40 worth of phosphate and £18.94 worth of potash carried off the field at total nutrient value of £22.34. This is the face value of straw when we consider the major nutrients which it contains. However, the soil houses a lot of biological organism of which we know little about, the role straw plays in this ecosystem is harder to define, some may persist with the view that they would rather put straw back for its organic matter value. If we assume that we take three and a half tonnes of straw off a hectare, there is a considerable margin between the value of straw and the nutrient you lose; your conviction that straw incorporation is right for your farm must be a strong one.

For the first time, this year, Brown&Co will be adding an extra element to their online machinery auction. Assume that you have made the decision to bale your straw, what is the best market for it? You now have the option to enter it into the first online October straw and forage auction. The benefits include the opportunity for you to control bailing and clearing your fields, being able to efficiently gain the correct market price for your product and to be working with a secure and trusted trading partner who will protect your interests. If this offer is of value to you, register your straw via email to: simon.wearmouth@brown-co.com