Each month we hope to run a few blogs about our company and the team that is behind the growing and processing! This month I have been speaking with Richard Kane, the farmer behind Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil. I have been asking him some questions on his life so far as an arable farmer and what arable farmers do all winter?
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself?
A: I am an arable farmer based on the outskirts of Limavady farming around 800 acres between our home farm in Myroe, and also rented land in Campsie. I have been married to Leona for 12 years and we have 2 children - Jacob (9) and Emily (6). I enjoy playing some golf when I get the chance.
Q: Richard you obviously grew up on a farm all your life. Did you always know that you were going to be a farmer?
A: No to be honest - I wasn't ever really that interested in farming when I was growing up. Initially I went to University to be an accountant, then decided I wanted to be an agricultural consultant. I soon realised my Dad was at home and that I really I should take over the family farm and run it like a business.
Q:- Did you go to one of the agriculture colleges or universities?
A: I studied Business and Finance HND in Manchester and then went to Newcastle University to do another degree in Agri Business Management.
Q: How long have you been farming?
I came home to farm in 1997, and have been here ever since!
Q: Do you ever feel you would like animals?
A: I would like animals to complete the farming cycle - from growing the feed, right through to selling the meat, but the work, time, commitment and paperwork involved is very off-putting. Animals are also dangerous to work with (as is slurry).
Q: Dare I ask - but what was 2017 like for you? I have seen lots of tweets and posts about how the weather was so wet for everyone in farming. The North West seems to have had a lot of rain, and then you had the flooding in August.
A: 2017 was OK despite the rain from August to December, making harvest very difficult. Yields in general were good and prices edged up slightly. Straw also bulked well and the price increased from last year. So all in all, the year really wasn't as bad as it seemed - except when we were actually trying to get in and out of fields!
Q: What are you hoping for in 2018?
A: Drier weather and an early spring would be great. We have a lot of catching up to do with 3/4 of the winter oilseed lost to rain and slugs, and only a third of the usual winter crops planted - there's plenty to do!
Q: Will this be a huge impact on your wife's business Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil?
A: We will need to re-sow all of our crops in March/April time because we lost so much last year due to slugs eating the plants. Slugs can cause so much damage once they get started, we planted 180 acres and only have around 30-40 acres left (if we're lucky!)
Q: What happens on the farm in January or what will you be preparing for next month?
A: January is meeting month! I had to chair the Arable Conference at Greemount, as I am Chair of the Ulster Arable Society. I'm also going to Lamma show in England to see latest machinery ideas and look at a new sprayer.
I have to try and get into the fields to spray for weeds as soon as it dries up. I also have some grain to clean so it can be used to plant next year's crop. It will be a busy time over the next few months as I am now working the land on my own. I also spend a lot of time with Broighter Gold as I have to help in the oil plant, keeping the press going and oil filtered ready for the rest of the team to bottle and infuse. Things are really busy now that we have added Sainsburys and Musgrave as customers, alongside our loyal, longstanding customers who have been with us from the start. As you can see - farming and oil production works well together - quiet farming time is actually the busiest time for producing oil.