Don’t miss this month’s new look Arable Farming. Take a look at the digital edition today.
We may look back and reflect that the storm clouds gathering over Cereals 2016 were a portent of what was to come. As I write on the second day of the event, two hugely significant decisions for the farming industry are just a week away. One will decide whether or not the UK remains a member of the European Union; the other will determine the future of the herbicide glyphosate. Unsurprisingly, both topics were at the fore at Cereals.
These are two very different decisions linked both by our relationship with Europe and by the uncertainty they have created. Who knows what the outcomes will be? By the time you read this votes will have been cast. We may be commencing preparations for a future outside Europe; we may be assessing our options for farming without glyphosate. The only certainty is change lies ahead.
The mood at the event could perhaps be described as one of resignation. ‘We’ve been here before’ was a phrase I heard on several occasions. The arable sector is feeling the pinch but still there remains the desire to keep abreast of new developments in agronomy, machinery and management.
Cereals week also saw an announcement on the long-awaited decision on the definition of what is an endocrine disruptor in the context of crop protection active ingredients. This decision too is likely to have far-reaching implications for what remains in, or is cast out, of the agchem toolbox. As Arable Farming went to press, pesticide manufacturers and advisers were wrestling with the detail but there was a feeling the criteria agreed by the European Commission were likely to result in farmers losing safe and essential crop protection tools.
Our varieties feature this month takes in agronomy, marketing and new thinking – or this being agriculture, perhaps it is old thinking for modern times. We examine the influence of first wheat variety choice on soil health and subsequent wheat crops, delve into the market opportunities new variety introductions are bringing and hear from a Kent grower adopting a radical approach to reducing his input costs and improving the resilience of his farming system.
Harvest is drawing close. No-one is expecting bumper yields but, with recent rain and sunshine, some are starting to express hopes for a ‘good average’. Such a result would probably provide an acceptable conclusion to what has been a challenging growing season.