Blog: Winter Work Checklist

Midlands Rural Surveyor John Greenshields, looks at the jobs members should be thinking about this winter
Snow day at the office

With Christmas just around the corner, many members will use the time to carry out odd jobs around their land and properties. There always seems to be a never ending list of jobs to be completed however, the winter period can be useful to take a step back and review, both on paper and outside.

Out on the land

  1. Walk the land, and this means try to walk all of your land. During busier periods of the year it is easy to neglect certain areas or hard to reach places including small woodland which may have drain outlets or source drinking water. This includes any items with third party rights such as telecommunications masts, pylons and public access routes as you will have certain obligations, or at least wish to avoid any unnecessary headaches.
  2. Checking the land will allow you to see if any changes may need to be undertaken. You may need to invest in new or come back later to fix some fencing, drainage or other infrastructure. It can be a good time to check buildings for ingress of water. Please note that works beyond repairs such as the creation of new buildings or reservoirs will require planning permission.
  3. Are your ditches and drains running freely? This responsibility comes under the Land Drainage Act 1991, which requires that watercourses (including ditches and drains) are maintained by their owner/occupier to allow the free flow of water. If there are issues with your neighbours drainage then it is always best to act in a neighbourly manner and to try resolve the issue together.
  4. Check your machinery and organise maintenance. Beyond their physical condition you should also take the opportunity to check the insurance and warranty if applicable.
  5. For those who haven’t recently soil sampled, if you have a quieter winter you may take the opportunity to sample your land – at a time when you are unlikely to be impacted by any recent applications. Checking the condition of your soil to ensure that you are getting the most from it, you are not adding any unnecessary expensive nutrients and have the correct pH. This may work with any aims you have to conduct a carbon assessment or approximation of your farm’s biodiversity capacity.

At the kitchen table

Time to review not only your land but also your paperwork. Such items you may want to check or refresh yourself with:

  1. Your Deeds or Land Registry title. Having walked your land, it is worth checking that there is an accurate translation to what exists in black and white.
  2. Review your business. Taking into account the current business, the farm and your/the family’s future plans.
  3. Make sure your paperwork is up to speed. This isn’t just limited to the farm accounts but also check that your insurance is appropriate. Please contact CLA Insurance for more information.
  4. Do you have appropriate insurance when walking around and correct Health and Safety works to minimise the risk to you, your family and employees. The CLA can help in these areas via the CLA Healthcare Service. We all desperately desire for our loved ones and ourselves to be seen and helped swiftly whenever there is an issue. In terms of the secondary business question, can you or a family afford to be unable to work for a prolonged period?
  5. Check any existing agri-environment schemes and partnership agreements etc so that you refresh your requirements and what options may be open to you. For those who haven’t already, we recommend farmers take advantage of the Farming Resilience Fund. The fund enables BPS recipients to receive free advice and support from a list of 17 specialist organisations, each with their own expertise and offer of support. For more information please click here.
  6. Are you complying with all your requirements? You may look at options to help you comply or build in future resilience such as improving your farm slurry stores. For more information please click here.
  7. Energy is a major cost to business and the costs of energy seem to only be going one way. We strongly recommend you contact CLA Energy to see what they can do for you.
  8. Plan for the future - ensure that you have appropriate plans in place for the farming operations, not only the physical workings of the farm, but also if there is going to be a succession. Have you discussed and planned succession and have an appropriate will and tax assessment in place?

If you have any questions relating to this checklist of then please contact John Greenshields on 01785 337010.

Key contact:

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John Greenshields Rural Surveyor, CLA Midlands