Don’t miss this month’s new look Arable Farming. Take a look at the digital edition today.
Where to start? It has been a busy few weeks. Little did I know when I wrote my leader for the last issue that, for some, harvest would become a somewhat protracted affair. While in the eastern counties harvest 2016 was pretty much wrapped up by the end of August, into the Midlands and further north wet weather meant combines were working well into September.
Some of that rain would have been welcomed in much of East Anglia, where hot, dry conditions have many led to a rethink of drilling schedules and autumn herbicide programmes. The effects I feel sure will soon be evident in new season crops.
And with the sugar beet factories preparing to start slicing in early October, growers with early lifts will no doubt be hoping for some rain before the harvesters start work.
Farming’s environmental credentials have come under fire once again following the release of the State of Nature report. For anyone who calls the countryside home, the report made uncomfortable reading and I am sure no-one in the industry took its findings lightly.
But as I read the roll call of wildlife decline, it did make me wonder whether the achievements of the many, many farmers who put time, effort, enthusiasm and indeed, money, into caring for their own particular patch of countryside are sufficiently recognised. We must not overlook the thousands of kilometres of hedges which have been planted, the acres of field margins created to provide habitat and food sources for birds and insects and the stewardship efforts to keep pesticides and fertiliser out of water.
The report cited the ‘intensification’ of farming as one of the major factors in the decline of the UK’s natural environment. Agricultural policies of the past have focused on maximising food production – and the farming industry without doubt responded to those policies – but today we are growing more grain with fewer inputs and that is something we need to shout about.
On the subject of stewardship, the news that results of water companies’ efforts to keep slug pellet active ingredient metaldehyde out of water are to be reviewed next spring, a year earlier than originally planned, should be taken seriously. Much depends on our approach to slug control this autumn.
On a final note, I’d like to flag up the launch of our new Arable- Pro package. Membership offers numerous benefits, not least the opportunity to collect BASIS and NRoSO points. Be sure to check it out at FGInsight.com/ArablePro.