Henry Gent: 'We have had some comment from the public about animal welfare'

farm lifeCrops

A recent meeting about out-wintering, organised by Catchment Sensitive Farming, was mostly conducted in the village hall. It was just as well, as cold fog did not lift all day, in contrast to warm and sunny days before and since.


We did get out in the field for an hour, but the fog was so thick we could hardly see the lie of the land.


Fortunately, it did not seem to matter too much, as some of the farmers seemed to know the field quite well from driving past on the motorway; the tell-tale sight of wrapped silage bales dotted across a field.


We had some interesting discussion and the take-home message probably varied for different farms, according to their current concerns.


We continue to fine-tune our decision-making process about things such as the best way to locate water troughs and silage bales, strip-grazing kale to minimise trampling and ease of rolling on ring feeders.


In a discussion about out-wintering, I sometimes feel accused of being a second-class citizen, because our kale yields are so low compared with non-organic crops, especially fodder beet.


But a more extensive crop, managed well, does have advantages in terms of all the factors listed above, such as minimising poaching and giving shelter and run back.


In full view of the motorway, we have had some comment from the public about animal welfare, but we had no problem from a professional assessment.


The Environment Agency had previously pointed out drinking from the river was causing some damage to the bank.


We have dealt with this, with a borehole, pipes, and troughs, which enable us to move water troughs around to minimise distance to the trough.


At breakfast this morning, reading this week’s copy of New Scientist, I came upon an opinion piece by a well-known commentator, which reiterates the argument that because organic crops have lower yields, they must have higher greenhouse gas emissions per unit of food.


Once again, I will resist the defeatist sackcloth and ashes when it comes to low yields. I think, for some crops at least, if soil sequestration and emissions are considered, the emissions of organic and non-organic are not so far apart.

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