Don’t miss this month’s new look Arable Farming. Take a look at the digital edition today.
The ‘go’ button has been pressed. My early morning crop walks with the dog are once more accompanied by the hydrostatic drive whine of the self-propelled sprayer working in neighbouring fields, while out in the car it is back to squeezing past tractors-plus-assorted-kit on narrow lanes. Let’s hope for a kind spring, it’s definitely going to be a busy one.
Disease is certainly making its presence felt. In a trip to Herefordshire in early March I was alerted to high levels of active septoria in a range of winter wheat varieties; its control will require careful timing of fungicides and thoughtful budgeting.
News too in March that BASF is entering new triazole chemistry for approval is interesting given the agronomic and regulatory challenges we face.
I was fortunate recently to attend a British Crop Production Council-organised meeting which set out to debate whether UK growers could afford to continue growing oilseed rape. There was an excellent line up of speakers and, with farmers, agronomists, scientists, agchem manufacturers and NGOs among the delegates, the level of ques-tions and debate was pretty good too.
However, one presentation which really stood out for me during the event and which has kept me thinking several weeks later, was that of AHDB lead cereals and oilseeds analyst Jack Watts. With the analyst’s skill of stepping back from the detail and looking at the big picture, he challenged growers to think differently about the risks and rewards of their rotations and how they might consider new ways of balancing these out.
One particular challenge he issued was how do we use periods of low prices to give rotations an ‘agronomic recharge’, putting us in a position to capitalise when prices start to improve? It was, I thought, an interesting concept and one I would be interested to hear your views on.
If things are starting to get busy out in the field, the pace in the political arena can only be described as manic. The press at least is consumed by Brexit fever, even if large swathes of the population appear to fall somewhere in the range ‘confused’ to ‘don’t give a damn’. Farming’s rela-tionship with Europe is a com-plex one and either way the outcome of the referendum will have profound effects on our in-dustry. We aim to try and tackle some of the key questions in this and forthcoming issues, cutting through the bickering, name-call-ing and hyperbole which is cur-rently masquerading as debate.
Teresa Rush, Arable Farming editor.