Farmer Andy Barr in the crop© Alexandra Joseph

“With regret…you’re sprayed” were my recent Lord Sugar-esque words to the weevils on my peas.

It certainly was with regret, as I try my utmost not to spray any foliar insecticide. I seem to have got away with it on cereals and oilseed rape, but legumes are another matter.

Despite being notched, the beans grew away quickly, but the peas were being eaten back to the leaf ribs in patches and fire brigade action was required.

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

No doubt the bruchid beetle will also need attention, but with a recent farmer meeting discussion revealing no difference in bean damage from a wide variety of spray applications, we really need an integrated solution fast.

I often learn most from these farmer discussions and field visits. As part of Base UK I have a small conservation agriculture investigation where I am ploughing next to direct drilling to see how it compares.

This year I also have tine and disc direct drilling next to these trial sites and Base members are welcome to have a look at any time.

I am on the steering committee for the new AHDB arable monitor farm in Kent. It is a beautiful mixed farm and topics for discussion and demonstration through the year include strip and no-till, CTF, fixed costs, cover crops and soil health. You can also suggest further topics to be discussed at the introduction meeting on 23 June.

That day will also spark talk about another, rather larger, collaboration – the EU. I have always been a fan of farmer co-operatives and believe we can be much better off working together.

However, I do want to maintain my own business. It would be mad not to have easy trading agreements with our European neighbours, but even most “In” voters still feel they do not want to be part of a large super-state.

Will the fact we are voting be enough to jolt the europoliticians into realising we do not want a United States of Europe? Or will an “In” vote need to be extremely close in order to do the trick?


Andy Barr farms 700ha in a family partnership in Kent. Combinable crops amount to about 400ha and include milling wheat and malting barley in an increasingly varied rotation. He also grazes 800 Romney ewes and 40 Sussex cattle and the farm uses conservation agriculture methods.