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OPINION: 'Outside Europe - we might make use of our scientific armoury'

We live in a world where it seems lots of people with not a lot to do need something to think about or something to worry about, because perhaps their jobs are not stressful or fulfilling enough.

They need a religion or something to believe in and that church is environmentalism.

 

This is a problem for modern agriculture: these people have too much time on their hands and do their preaching via the internet.

 

Every year, due to their claims which often fly against science, we are losing actives from our plant protection armoury.

 

It is just ludicrous we have these amazing scientific discoveries to fix the problem of soil erosion, such as glyphosate; chlorothalonil to keep plants healthy so they convert lots of CO2; neonicotinoid seed dressings which protect non-target species; but these people are intent on taking them away.

 

They do not care about science or facts.

 

What is the future for us when we have no plant protection products left?

 

Breeding

 

Accelerated breeding is the future, because no-one likes the term ‘genetically modified’.

 

But now, with gene editing, we can accelerate breeding.

 

When we leave the EU, hopefully we can lead the world and grow blight-resistant potatoes or perennial wheat crops that are robust enough to compete against weeds without herbicide or have nitrogen fixing roots.


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Could we be about to start the next agricultural revolution once the EU shackles are gone?

 

Will the environmentalists be happy to eat crops that are bred smarter, so long as they have never seen the underside of a sprayer boom?

 

We now have the Government looking closely at urea fertiliser because for some reason, ammonia levels are rising in towns and nitrous oxide levels are dropping.

 

Why is this? Well, simply, urea (AdBlue) is now added to reduce nitrous oxide levels in vehicle exhausts.

 

But, if the exhaust is not hot enough, the ammonia in the urea is turned to steam and blown out into the air.

 

Farmers get the blame for applying urea fertiliser, despite the fact it only volatilises when soil temperatures reach more than 15degC.

 

They think we do not care because it is ‘free’, or so they think.

 

It is this disconnection between the realities of farming and food production and the myths peddled by those from their keyboards and smartphones, which has proved to be so dangerous.

 

While technology can play a role in helping us farm smarter and with less environmental impact, let us hope we have the freedom to be able to use it.

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