Don’t miss this month’s new look Arable Farming. Take a look at the digital edition today.
Are you gripped by election fever or paralysed by it? Even the most politically-engaged I feel sure must from time-to-time weary of the constant stream of promises and pledges, all of which are swiftly pounced on and dismissed with fervour by the opposite side.
Sadly, policies for food and farming are not going to win or lose this election for any party and so we must wait until a new Government is formed before work begins in earnest once again on issues including the CAP, pesticide regulation, energy policy and rural broadband, to name but a few. But whatever the outcome on May 7, an early commitment from Government to work with the industry in supporting and developing a strong, sustainable UK farming sector is vital.
One of the first tasks facing the new Government will be to complete implementation of the new BPS. As Arable Farming went to press last month, the u-turn on online applications had just been announced. Since then the paper application process has got underway, but at the time of writing (April 16) concerns remain over email notifications and greening requirements. For farm businesses, planning for the likelihood of payments not arriving in December, when the payment window opens is surely essential.
Away from the politics, spring fieldwork continues. I made the mistake a month ago of believing spring had arrived. The fact is, it dragged its heels for another three weeks or so, before launching into a spell of summerlike temperatures, which will no doubt provide some agronomic challenges.
Hereabouts oilseed rape is starting to flower and there has been some close monitoring of pollen beetle. But in some ways of more concern have been the reports of cabbage stem flea beetle larvae damage. Their presence, while undoubtedly having some impact on current crop yields, also serves to highlight the threat to next season’s OSR crops.
Of further concern are the reports of high levels of blackgrass being seen in OSR. With returns from the crop currently marginal, these additional agronomy issues are doing it no favours at all.
On a final note, I am really excited to share news of the launch of the Agri-Innovation Den by AF’s parent company Briefing Media Agriculture, in conjunction with The Cooperative Food. The aim is to give farming entrepreneurs an opportunity to develop their ideas for new technologies and innovations and there’s a £100,000 investment pot to be won. Go to page 4 for more details.
Teresa Rush, Arable Farming editor.