FG BUY&SELL        FARMERS WEATHER       ARABLE FARMING        DAIRY FARMER      FARMERS GUARDIAN        AGRIMONEY        OUR EVENTS        MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS        BLOGS        MORE FROM US

You are viewing 1 of your 2 free articles

You’ll need to join us by becoming a member to gain more access.
Already a Member?

Login Join us now

Talking Policy with Mike Hambly: Oilseed rape under attack from all sides

Insights

Oilseed rape is a key crop in both the UK and EU. It is the fourth most important crop behind wheat, corn (maize) and barley in the EU. Here in England, where grain maize is still a minority crop, OSR is our third most important arable crop and has been an essential element in most cereal rotations.

Twitter Facebook
Mike Hambly
Mike Hambly

Past returns have been good; the crop has delivered agronomically and answered the need for a profitable break crop with a ready market, as well as being a great source for biodiversity on the farm. Like many, over recent years, I have shortened my rotations from six to four years for OSR but, all too aware of the impact of club root here in the South West, have resisted the moves made by some to implement alternate wheat/rape rotations.

 

But agronomic and political changes are not proving friendly to the crop. Yield variability and high growing costs, particularly in the critical autumn period, have always made OSR something of a challenge and the impact of the current loss of neonicotinoid seed treatments and pressurised market prices has meant many growers will be reconsidering its place in their rotation.

 

Growth in OSR throughout Europe has been dramatic, with production doubling from 12 million tonnes in 2003 to more than 24m tonnes last year. This rapid growth was a direct result of the implementation of an EU fuel policy since 2003. This policy and subsequent biodiesel demand has created its own EU oilseed oil supply. We have been using standard values for greenhouse gas emissions combined with land use reporting through Red Tractor and equivalent assurance standard up to now. From 2017, the default saving of greenhouse gas emissions will rise from 35% to 50%, and we are working with AHDB to ensure demonstrating sustainability is as straightforward as possible.

 

Rapeseed oil is well known for its health benefits, yet the demand for rapeseed oil for human consumption has remained stable at about 3m tonnes, for decades. Today, 30% of the crop is involved in biodiesel and that is why the recent EU legislation on Indirect Land Use Change could have such a dramatic impact on the future of the crop.

 

New EU renewable energy legislation, to be voted on as this article goes to print and into May, aims to limit the inclusion of biofuels to 7%. Here in the UK, our inclusion levels are still below this reduced level but we urgently need the Department of Transport to raise the UK Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation up to achieve the 10% required by EU legislation.

 

Far too often the criticism of food versus fuel is used against biofuels. In the case of OSR it is not justified; 60% of the crop, after oil extraction, will take the form of rapeseed meal, a valuable protein feed for EU livestock reducing the need for increased oil meal imports and thereby mitigating the severe EU protein deficit. Domestic oilseed meals now represent over 30% of vegetable EU protein consumption, up from 20% in 2003. Growing fuel on the farm as part of an arable rotation is not new, we have merely replaced the oats and hay which our forefathers grew for horses used in transport and for farm power.

The NFU has commissioned an Oilseed Rape Insect Damage Survey for this spring. This survey will build on the data from the HGCA Autumn Snapshot where losses to CSFB were estimated at 2.7%. This overall figure masked some high regional losses and it is important we continue to gather data to understand the full impact including damage from CSFB larvae in the spring and the impact on crops from turnip mosaic virus spread by aphids. For more information and to complete the survey go to nfuonline.com and click on ‘Crops’.

About

  • Mike Hambly farms in a family farming partnership near Callington in south east Cornwall. He is currently the chair of the NFU Combinable Crops Board and is the first Cornishman to hold the position.
Twitter Facebook
Rating (0 vote/s)
Post a Comment
To see comments and join in the conversation please log in.

More Insights

New event will help grow your business

An inspiring day packed full of motivational speakers and practical advice lie at the heart of a new event being brought to farmers wishing to grow and tackle some of the most common challenges in the industry. Danusia Osiowy takes a look at why The Business of Farming conference is one not to be missed.

CropTec Preview: Stealing a march on septoria SDHI resistance

Earlier this year, AHDB reported that septoria isolates with medium to high resistance to SDHI fungicides had been detected in samples taken from a field site in southern England in 2015.

A little organic matter goes a long way

Work to strengthen the UK’s ability to manage soil more sustainably is starting to bear fruit. Andrew Blake reports

Arable Farming magazine's November/December 2016 digital edition

Don’t miss this month’s new look Arable Farming. Take a look at the digital edition today.

School teaches tools needed to flourish in land based industry

Hadlow Rural Community School is pioneering farming as a positive career choice and nurturing children by equipping them with life-long skills. Sue Scott finds out more about the school with a soul.
FG Insight and FGInsight.com are trademarks of Briefing Media Ltd.
Farmers Guardian and FarmersGuardian.com are trademarks of Farmers Guardian Ltd, a subsidiary of Briefing Media Ltd.
All material published on FGInsight.com and FarmersGuardian.com is copyrighted © 2016 by Briefing Media Limited. All rights reserved.
RSS news feeds