AGRONOMISTS ARE changing their focus from purely technical information and product advice towards environmental stewardship issues, according to Frontier Agriculture.

“The two areas will run in parallel,” said the firm’s Edward Downing. “Farmers will still be cropping high yielding land, but on the less productive areas they should be farming wildlife instead.”

Frontier is training all its agronomists to assist with environmental issues as well as product advice. But, whereas in the past agchem information has often been bundled in with the product price, making it rather invisible, so-called “green advice” is likely to be invoiced more directly, he said.

Given that the Single Farm Payment is dependent on cross-compliance, he believes paying for environmental advice is worthwhile.

“It’s about protecting your payments. Already we’re hearing about farm inspections revealing lack of compliance and legislation is going to get more complex in future with the new water and waste directives.”

Frontier’s environmental advice is delivered through the firm’s Whole Farm Policy, a flexible package including cross-compliance, ELS applications, soil, nutrient, manure and crop protection management plans and health and safety issues.
Other agchem suppliers offering environmental assistance are also likely to charge for the service. “It’s not going to take over from agronomy, but we are being asked more and more for environmental information,” said Dr David Ellerton of ProCam.

Frontier Agriculture is sponsoring the Crops/Farmed Environment Company conference “Wildlife is the business of farming” on Tuesday 7 February at Chilford Hall, Linton Cambridgeshire.

Click here for a conference programme and registration form, or email crops@rbi.co.uk, telephone 020 8652 4081 for more information.