Posted on 16 April, 2019Comments (0)

Farm Diary

Farm Diary

Last call for an opportunity to hear why farmers do what they do – still places available.

As advertised in the last edition of the Villager we are inviting readers of the Villager on a first come basis to come on a visit to Hall Farm Grainstore, Holt Green to look at what, why and how we look after the land in the surrounding area. The visit will include a tractor trip in a seated and covered people trailer around some fields in mid spring growth to hear about the growing the crops, the countryside and hopefully see some wildlife with opportunities to ask questions. This visit will not be suitable for small children or dogs – I hope we can be quiet at times and see some wildlife and hear the birds.

The proposed date is 2 pm on Saturday 11th May – max 60 people on a first come basis – please email wombatwidget@gmail.com or phone 564088 if you would like to book your place (s) to join us and leave your contact details so that we can confirm receipt of your application.

The spring weather has allowed us to keep up with the plant growth stages, so pretty much on schedule – fertiliser applied, weeds treated etc. The smaller than 2018 harvest spring acreage of 200 acres was planted in a hectic 7 day period – primary cultivations, seedbed working, planting and rolling followed by pre emergence herbicide application. The “pre emergence” herbicides are applied to the bare soil after sowing and allow the crop to emerge through the soil unharmed but kill the weeds as they germinate. By killing weeds when they are small much lower doses of active ingredient can be used which is obviously kinder to the environment and pocket.

One of crops being grown this season that has problems on many farms is oilseed rape – the yellow flowered crop that will be looking so colourful by the time you read this. Many crops did not establish well partly because of the removal of the neonic seed dressings that are now banned because of the fears that they are harmful to bees. The neonic seed dressing protected the new oilseed crop from cabbage stem flea beetle damage. The consequence of this is that the oilseed crop, which has been proven to increase pollinator numbers wherever it is grown because it is such a brilliant food source for bees etc. will now become a rare sight in the countryside and bee numbers will decline as a result. Bureaucrats take note – bees like oilseed crops – it is a great site for their foraging and pollinating – otherwise known as feeding and sex.

As part of my work I am asked to visit other farms and advise on the growing crops on those farms. Just today I was asked to visit and give my opinions on 100 acres of oilseed on one farm 50 miles from here that had been ravaged by the flea beetle. Unfortunately the crop is not in a happy state and my recommendation was to write off the crop – a loss to the farmer of about £7000.

One bit of rubbish that was doing the media rounds last week was that because the neonic ban has been implemented on all crops that bee numbers are now increasing rapidly. The truth is that the ban was agreed some time ago but only came into effect on 31st December 2018 for cereal seed so the current autumn sown cereal crops for 2019 harvest are growing with the use of neonics. The claims that bee numbers are rapidly increasing because of the ban is fictitious and put about those who don’t know what they are talking about. In 12 months’ time the situation may be different but right now the media stories are complete twaddle.

Another consequence of a reduction in oilseed acreage which is happening throughout the EU, following the neonic ban, is that the world needs oilseed products and if not grown here some oilseeds will be imported from the Far East in the form of Palm oil. Many of the growers there have an easy route to increasing production – cut down the rain forest!!

When politicians impose policies that look good in the EU they should consider the global consequences of their decisions. So to conclude – we are exporting oilseed production at the expense of the Far Eastern rainforest and reducing the crop that is a food source that many bees rely upon here in the UK (and EU).

This spring has been different without the new lamb crop. Sunny days when all is going well were great times to have a flock of ewes and newly born lambs. However the late evenings, early mornings and wet stormy days and nights are things that I do not miss.

Only about 3 months until the combines start rolling – that is scary!

[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]

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