Farmers do really care about the land and soil quality

Contrary to many people’s perceptions, farmers do care about the land, soil quality and the environment. The quality of our farmland is what we rely upon to grow food producing crops which enable us to make a living and hopefully sustain a profitable business.

I believe it would have been enlightening for our critics to have attended last week’s presentation at the Mid Sussex Golf Club, hosted by Mike Sandercock, Director of Bodle Bros Ltd, the agricultural merchants.

The farmers who attended this meeting were there because we wish to be updated on the latest technology which enables us to progress our aim to improve our crops, reduce the cost of production, our reliance on the use of artificial fertilisers and chemicals, and up our game ensuring we are aware of the latest methods of protecting the environment from harmful and wasteful chemicals. Farmers rely upon such events and the farming press to raise our awareness of new products which help increase the quality and yields of our crops and thus the sustainability of our farms in a very volatile market.

As Mike Sandercock reminded us in his introduction, “changes in the environment and increasing frequency of extreme weather, as we are currently experiencing, and the possible rise of global temperatures will impact upon the production of arable and horticultural crops. Also it is a requirement for farmers to complying with current and future climate change legislation”.

Chris Wilton from Agribio Services Ltd extolled the advantages of new technology regarding a range of foliar nutritional products which the company is promoting with remarkable results, around the world. A variety of products depending upon requirements deliver nitrogen and vital trace elements directly to the growing plant in liquid form, which can be taken up by the crop immediately, efficiently and at the point of contact.

The theory being, as opposed to granular fertilisers which by reason of their very nature have a considerable delay before dissolving into the soil and being taken up by the root system. It is considered by scientists that up to 40 per cent of granular nitrogen is wasted and does not become available to the current crop.

It may be retained in the soil but is also in danger of leaching into water courses.

Pat Salmon from Bio Nature UK Ltd works with Chris, and last year used these foliar products to help a Lincolnshire farmer attempt to beat the world wheat yield record.

By all accounts had the weather been more helpful, he may well have done so. However, despite the lack of a world record the wheat crop produced a stunning yield which exceeded previous yields grown on that farm.

I have never before witnessed such an enthusiastic presentation, Pat quite obviously wants us all to aim for world records using these liquid foliar feeds.

Finally Nick Green from T. Denne & Son the seed merchants explained the virtues of cover crops.

The process of growing a ‘green crop’ rather than leaving a field bare or fallow over winter prevents soil erosion or run off, due to heavy rain as we have experienced this winter, and builds a natural reserve of nitrogen produced by the plant before planting a spring crop when weather and soil conditions allow.

All these processes are already used by farmers and growers but it is indicative of the very nature of the farmers attending, that we wish to update our awareness of new products and their science in our quest to improve crop, land management and protect the environment.

The fact that Bodle Bros’ generous hospitality included delicious bacon butties before we departed was indeed most welcome but Mike Sandercock can rest assured that even without this tasty morsel we would all have attended this interesting, thought provoking and informative morning!

*The Horsegate Saga continues unabated. The main and obvious problem must be regarding trade descriptions not food safety.

However it has now become a global matter with distributors blaming processors and processors blaming wholesalers and wholesales now blaming abattoirs in Romania. If the horses originated there I would hazard a guess that the concern that horse meat could be contaminated by Bute is fairly unlikely. However if the horses were imported from Western Europe it could be a minor concern. I make no apology for once again encouraging shoppers to buy British and buy local.

To ensure we know what we are eating it is surely prudent to avoid purchasing multi produced processed meat products which maybe cheap but now we know why!