Arable

Richard Cobbald will not be beaten by slugs

Saturday 27 October 2012 06:00

I have just returned from a very wet and muddy walk around the farm with my agronomist, Sam Vaughn. The main point of discussion was those slimy little toe-rags called slugs.

What a year for them. The first wheats are up well, but are getting grazed; the second wheats are coming and will be on their menu soon, and to make matters even worse they are still chomping away at some very well-established oilseed rape leaves.

They just keep coming. We have not missed an opportunity to pellet and have used the more water-resistant expensive pellets to try to stop them. I will not be beaten, but what is going to be the knock-on effect of all these pellets being used and being rained on? Even working within the pelletwise guidelines, personally I think we are in for a rough time from the water authorities. But what can you do; no grower can take catastrophic crop failure caused by slugs, over the use of pellets.

I think we have to watch this space very carefully and get some comprehensive arguments together about the use of the little blue pellets, as I am sure even more pressure is about to be applied to our industry.

Our first sugar beet has been lifted and delivered, and was not my greatest crop ever as the chalky land never really got them going in the spring. Cap that with 16.8% sugar and the adjusted yield is very ordinary. Have I done something wrong or are British Sugar overdoing their sugars as they have averages of 17.5% plus? No doubt I will find out with more investigation.

I have also to mention the passing of my dear old Springer spaniel, Millie. It's just not the same about here without her.

Richard Cobbald is farm manager for West Wratting Park Estate near Cambridge. The 1,300ha of heavy soils grow wheat, oilseed rape, sugar beet and spring barley

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