Don’t miss this month’s new look Arable Farming. Take a look at the digital edition today.
Agriculture was high on the political agenda during January, with the publication of a new Agriculture Bill, the Commi ee on Climate Change’s land use report and, as the month drew to a close, a new Environment Bill. Farming leaders have broadly welcomed the Agriculture Bill and the signal it contains from Government that food production and care for the environment must go hand-in-hand. Whether or not a healthy soil will remain a ‘natural asset’ or will a er all be seen as a ‘public good’ is not yet clear – more detail is expected in a forthcoming policy update. In the meantime, let us hope Defra’s decision to reassess the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s ELMS soil health trial, which was initially rejected last year, delivers a positive result. Soil has also been occupying our minds in a practical sense as the wet weather has continued. Field conditions remain desperately di cult for many, with an estimated one-third of the sugar beet crop yet to be li ed at the time of writing and growing concerns over the establishment of next season’s crop. Testing times ahead A recent dry spell has provided a much-needed opportunity for some to continue drilling, particularly with the safe sowing cut-o dates for winter wheat fast approaching, but with more rain in the forecast there are testing times ahead. Staying with soil, in this issue we look at an exciting new research project which is using DNA analysis to be er understand soil biology and, from a more practical perspective, we’ve got some farmer feedback on a novel high de nition soil scanning service, launched last year (see p56-58). One of the big questions the farming industry has to answer is ‘what is a healthy soil?’ Both projects aim to inform this in some way. We also look ahead to possible spring weed control scenarios and turn our thoughts also to achieving be er control of septoria – and managing fungicide resistance. With new azole chemistry in the market this season in the form of BASF’s Revystar, the la er is particularly pertinent. Sadly, news just out is that Corteva’s Inatreq fungicide, hoped for in time for T2, will not now be available in the UK until 2021. On a nal note, it would be remiss of me not to ag up our LAMMA show coverage. Many of you I know made the trip to the NEC and enjoyed a highly successful event. If you weren’t able to be there, we’ve got all the highlights (see p60-70).