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In brief

DEFRA CONSULTS ON HOLDINGS ACT

DEFRA IS consulting on two additional proposals to its reform of the agricultural holdings act 1986. The first is an amendment to the proposal to simplify succession on retirement. The second is a new proposal on variation of rent. Those wishing to reply need to do so by April 29. For more details see www.fwi.co.uk/tenancy

FRENCH GROWERS GET VIOLENT

FRENCH WINE growers have used dynamite to blow up two of the government”s department of agriculture offices. The group known as the Regional Winegrowers Action Committee wants to draw attention to the income crisis affecting its sector. The offices were in the south of France – Montpellier and Carcassonne. A third explosion destroyed an official vehicle outside a department office in nearby Nimes.

COMPENSATION CHANGES REJECTED

DEFRA HAS published a summary of the 26 replies to its consultation seeking to review the way in which compensation is paid for cattle affected by bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis, BSE and enzootic bovine leukosis. Due to the limitations of the proposed system, most respondents favoured the current system of individual valuation.

BIRD DECLINE REVERSED FOR SOME SPECIES

FIGURES PUBLISHED by DEFRA show that the long-term decline in farmland birds has stabilised and has reversed for a number of species in recent years. The long-term decline since 1966 has halted, stabilising since 2000, and there are now signs that some populations may be increasing.

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6 September 2002

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PEDIGREE pigs will go under the hammer for the first time since the foot-and-mouth epidemic.

The show and sale will include all the UKs rarest breeds as well as some of its more popular modern breeds, such as the British Landrace and Durocs. The event has been organised by the British Pig Association and will take place at the Auction Centre, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, on Sept 14, in conjunction with auctioneer Norton & Brooksbank. &#42

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6 September 2002

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&#8226 LIVE cattle and sheep from farms or shows across the whole of the UK will be allowed to attend this years Royal Smithfield Show, organisers have confirmed. The announcement means animals attending the Scottish Winter Fair and Birmingham Primestock Show will be able to participate. The show takes place at Earls Court, London, on Nov 24-27.

&#8226 ELECTRICIAN Jonathan Stroud, who denies helping operate a cannabis factory at his parents farm in Hants, faces a retrial after a jury was unable to reach a verdict. Mr Stroud, 39, was alleged to have helped his family "diversify" into skunk cannabis at Summerdale Farm, Liss. Three others pleaded guilty to charges arising from the illegal operation. They are due to be sentenced later.

&#8226 EXHIBITOR numbers for the 2002 Dairy Event are up by one-third on last year, according to the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers. The show at Stoneleigh Park, Warks, on Sept 18-19 has attracted 320 trade exhibitors. &#42

including representatives from Belgium, Spain, Italy, France and the US.

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6 September 2002

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&#8226 APPLYING extra nitrogen to try to overcome poor growth caused by potash or phosphate shortages is like accelerating an engine short of oil, warns the Potash Development Association.

Despite huge financial pressures on growers to economise on P and K inputs, doing so is only acceptable if the fertility change does not affect yield or quality, says the PDAs John Hollies.

The potential "hidden hunger" of potash deficiency is highlighted in the latest PDA leaflet justifying maintaining soil nutrients. Trials results with winter wheat show that allowing the K index to slip from 2 to 1 produced 2t/ha (0.8t/acre) less – a salient message for autumn drillers, says Mr Hollies. &#42

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6 September 2002

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&#8226 LOOKING for an outlet for linseed straw to boost the crops margin? Hants-based Premium Crops says a new deal with a company making biofuel pellets for export makes it possible to pay growers about £25/t ex-farm for the high calorific material. Most bale formats are acceptable, says the firms Nigel Bazeley.

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6 September 2002

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&#8226 THIS seasons sugar beet campaign kicks off next week with British Sugars Newark factory opening on Sept 11, Bury St Edmunds, Cantley and York on Sept 16, and Alscott and Wissington on Sept 17. "Test digs show very good root weights but sugar content slightly below average," says BSs Paul Bee. Overall yields are expected to be at least on a par with long-term averages and much better than last year. Lifting should be hand-to-mouth at the start of the campaign to minimise losses.

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6 September 2002

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&#8226 EFFICACY of pre-emergence grass weed herbicide Avadex (tri-allate) has been seriously under-estimated due to the use of pepperpot-type shakers to apply the product in trials, claims manufacturer Monsanto. A study last season revealed blackgrass control was boosted from a range of 39-94% with pepperpots to 59-92% with micro-granule applicators, as used for field scale applications. That is an average 7% improvement, notes study co-ordinator Barrie Hunt. Applying Avadex with a pepperpot is like attempting to make an accurate, modern, spray application with a watering can, he says.

&#8226 OVER 50% of growers only apply slug pellets when they see evidence of slugs, reveals a recent survey commissioned by metaldehyde manufacturer Lonza. "This shows that arable farmers are not implementing a preventative control strategy despite the fact that this is known to be the most effective way of reducing slug damage," maintains sales and marketing director Ernesto Plozza. For steps to a successful control strategy visit www.slugawareness.co.uk he suggests. &#42

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30 August 2002

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&#8226 TICKETS are still available for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institutions London conference on Sept 12. HRH The Princess Royal, Lord Plumb and NFU deputy president Tim Bennett are among the speakers at this event, supported by farmers weekly. The conference, A Viable Future for Farming, aims to identify the positive actions which will lead to a viable future. Tickets, available on a first-come first-served basis, can be reserved by readers by returning the coupon in last weeks Farmlife section.

&#8226 A CHARITY rugby match between NFU Scotland and a Scottish Rugby Union select team raised about £2500 for the Southern Africa Crisis Appeal. The farmers, captained by union president Jim Walker, lost 52-35.

&#8226 A YORKSHIRE farmer who lost his herd to foot-and-mouth travelled to Norfolk to restock – only to find the East Anglian cows did not like the dales. Mason Scarr, who farms in Bainbridge, Wensleydale, bought 33 Holstein and Friesian cows from a Norfolk dealer. "We had to literally push them up the hill to begin with. But as soon as you turned your back, they were on their way down again. We had to put a fence up to keep them there." &#42

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30 August 2002

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uFANCY helping a field margins biodiversity project and getting £500/ha plus a first feel of the findings in return? Under the industrys Voluntary Initiative, SAFFIE is seeking farmers with mainly heavy land wheat and break rotations willing to install 5m margins on four fields of about 10ha (25 acres) each. Contact June Edney, Crop Protection Association (01733-294228 or june.e@cropprotection.org.uk)

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23 August 2002

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&#8226 THIS years annual open day at the Moorepark Dairy research centre, Co Cork, has been cancelled due to cattle TB. One suspected TB reactor was identified in the herd during routine testing, says Teagascs Michael Miley. "The animal was slaughtered and some lesions were found. Under Irish TB regulations, the herd is now closed forcing researchers to postpone the open day until next year." The herd will be tested every 60 days and remain closed until two consecutive negative results are obtained.

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23 August 2002

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&#8226 PIG finishers considering taking pigs to heavier weights should consider demand on finisher accommodation before entering into a contract, according to Roger Smith of ARM Buildings. "Increasing processor demand for heavier pigs has resulted in pigs staying on farm longer. This means that more pen space is required. When pig sale weight is increased from 70kg to 80kg/herd producing 10,000 pigs/year needs an extra 384 finishing places." &#42

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9 August 2002

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&#8226 A world record for sugar output from beet has been set by a sister line of rhizomania-tolerant variety Concept. The crop of Beta 4430R at Imperial Valley, California, yielded 146.6t/ha (59.3t/acre) at 15.87% sugar, according to breeder Betaseed. That produced 23.274t/ha (9.419t/acre) of sugar.

&#8226 A NEW seed testing laboratory 25% larger than its predecessor at Defford, Worcs, illustrates Countrywide Farmers commitment to agricultural supply, says the firm. The Defford plant processes 16,000t of cereal seeds and herbage mixtures for 35,000 acres each year.

&#8226 CLEVELAND Potash, the UKs only potash mine, has been awarded certification to international quality standard ISO9001:2000 by Lloyds Register Quality Assurance. The development has taken two years to achieve and covers production, handling, sales and distribution.

&#8226 UK grain ambassador Barclay Forrest has won the National Agricultural Award for 2002 from the Royal Agricultural Society of England. Under his leadership from 1994-2000 the British Cereal Exports division of the Home Grown Cereals Authority helped move the UK from being a net grain importer to being a top 10 world exporter. &#42

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24 July 2002

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&#8226 SHEARING equipment manufacturer Lister Shearing has been acquired by US company Wahl Clipper Corporation. Based at Dursley in Glos, Lister Shearing has been operating since 1867 and manufactures a range of shearing equipment including cutters and combs. Wahl Clipper Corporation, which is based in Illinois, employs over 2000 people worldwide. &#42

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19 July 2002

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&#8226 GM crops are gaining support from farmers in north-east Scot-land, says Aventis public and government affairs manager Julian Little. "Weve had four GM field trials in the area for the past three years and the message seems to be getting through that there are no superweeds to worry about and that this technology can help cut spray applications and costs. After an initial feeling of concern, opinions have shifted now growers have seen the fields and the farmers involved are talking about it."

&#8226 DO not use HGCA corn return prices to set the base price for malting barley contracts, urges the HGCA. "That isnt what it is intended for," says authority marketing initiative chairman Marie Skinner. Use the futures price instead to lock into a feed price and then negotiate the premium separately, advises economist Julian Bell. &#42

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19 July 2002

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&#8226 A 156-acre Cornish stock unit bordering the River Tamar is on offer from regional specialist Kivells. West Druxton Farm, near Launceston, is guided at £650,000 and includes a four-bedroomed farmhouse as well as traditional buildings with potential for conversion. Just over 22 acres are IACS-registered. &#42

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12 July 2002

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uROTHAMSTED research centre has changed its name from the Institute of Arable Crops Research to just Rothamsted Research, to reflect the wider range of work it now undertakes. The move coincides with the closure of facilities at Long Ashton, near Bristol, and the imminent opening of a £31m research facility at the site. "It will put us streets ahead of anything else in Europe, showing the confidence we have in the future of agricultural research," says deputy director Stephen James.

uASDA is the latest supermarket to sign up to the Linking Environment and Farming project in support of integrated farming principles. "We are concerned about preserving and enhancing the environment and reducing the impact of our suppliers activities," says Asda agricultural development manager Chris Brown.

uSKIN quality checks on potatoes are a step closer to being standardised with Electroconnect emerging as a commercial backer for the SAC-developed bloom-meter. "There should be a number of prototypes available this harvest ahead of possible commercial production next season," says SACs David Ross. By pinpointing changes in the bloom of potato skins the gadget should remove operator error from intake checks, aid store outloading decisions and improve potato shelf-life management in supermarkets. Likely cost is £500. &#42

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5 July 2002

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uRISING market demand for growth regulator free winter oats could spell trouble for growers, warns the SACs David Cranstoun. Noting Quakers niche market for pgr-free oats to supply Danish baby food makers, he suspects other firms will soon follow suit. "But growing oats without growth regulator worries me." Drilling the crop later to minimise lodging is dangerous, he explains. "There is no doubt that if you delay sowing you risk winter kill."

uBEWARE of growing Xi19 and Claire in Scotland. Although bread-maker Xi19 outyields Option over the whole of the UK, it is several points adrift north of the border, says the SACs David Cranstoun. Claire is "only for the brave or foolhardy" because of its poor sprouting resistance. &#42

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5 July 2002

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&#8226 LANCS outfit P Wilson & Co is selling a 220-acre arable unit for £1.3m. New Bradley Hall Farm, Burtonwood, near Warrington, is IACS-registered and includes traditional barns with potential for a courtyard conversion, as well as a four-bedroomed farmhouse. Agent Andrew Thompson is guiding the Grade 2 soil at £3000-3500/acre.

&#8226 IN NORTH Devon, a four-bedroomed bungalow, with agricultural tie and almost 20 acres of organic pastureland, is on offer with Gordon Vick and Partners. Bayards at Welcombe, Bideford is valued at £285,000 and features a general purpose building with land divided into three paddocks, and a small plot with permission for a garden centre or craft outlet.

&#8226 A FORMER 153-acre North Yorks dairy holding culled out during foot-and-mouth is for sale after the decision of the owners not to restock but retire instead. Manor Farm, East Cowton, Northallerton, is on the market for £450,000-525,000 with solo agent Robin Jessop. He says the farm has good agri-environmental potential. &#42

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5 July 2002

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&#8226 MEMBERSHIP of the Scottish Quality Cereals scheme has jumped by more than 10% and is now approaching 3500 growers. Changes introduced last September by trade body UKASTA, requiring all combinable crops supplied for compound animal feed to be assured, have contributed to the increase, says scheme administrator Scottish Quality Farm Assured Cereals. &#42

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5 July 2002

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&#8226 SPRAYER operators may not be washing their hands well enough after using a sprayer and should change the gloves they use more often, suggests a study which found that in many cases the gloves were contaminated on the inside through overuse. The Health and Safety Executive study of just 13 farms shows there is scope for worker exposure unless vehicles and spraying equipment are thoroughly cleaned, says the HSEs Andy Phillips.

&#8226 MEETING grain moistureand storage specifications is increasingly important. So anew training video produced by Centaur Grain and Protimeter could be worth watching ahead of this harvest. Cost effectivedrying and storage techniques are shown, using an on-floordrying system, and reliable/efficient sampling techniques are explained. The 18 minute videois available from Protimeter priced £15 plus VAT(01628-472722 or email protimeter@indsys.ge.com).

&#8226 WAGING war on rodents is the subject of a new practical guide for farmers from the Home-Grown Cereals Authority. With house mice infesting 30% of farms and Norway rats 40%, the need to combat the pests is paramount. The guide explains how prevention and monitoring are the best approaches, with control as a last resort. Details include the safe use of rodenticides, coping with rodenticides resistance, live capture and spring traps. Copies available free from the HGCA (020-7520 3970 or clare.kelly@hgca.com).

&#8226 NOT sure if you are cutting back on potash too sharply? A new booklet from the Potash Development Association aims to explain just how far you can go with cost savings without hitting yields. Written by Keith Goulding, of IACR Rothamsted, it shows how potash levels decline, how quickly they can be replenished and the risks to crops of inadequate potash reserves. Contact PDA (01994-427443 or john@pda.org.uk). &#42

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5 July 2002

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&#8226 THIS years exceptionally dry April could produce some very good oilseed rape yields, says NIAB. The reason is that much of the nitrogen applied by growers was not taken up by plants until after flowering, says oilseeds specialist Simon Kightley. That means excessive canopy growth has been avoided and much more of the fertiliser has been concentrated into pod and seed production.

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28 June 2002

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&#8226 AFTER a difficult year, Charollais sire reference scheme members maintained and improved all aspects of the breeds performance. The average scheme index rose to 235 with growth and muscling still going up, according to Jonathan Barber, chairman of Charollais Sires.

The top 10% of Charollais rams now weigh an extra 8.5kg at 21 weeks with an additional 3.3mm of muscle, but no difference in fat levels. Average Charollais rams have 5.5kg extra weight coupled with just over 2mm extra eye muscle. "These changes give sire reference rams an edge over the normal run of commercial tups and buyers should look seriously at purchasing from these flocks," adds Mr Barber. &#42

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28 June 2002

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&#8226 FOOT-AND-MOUTH disease and swine fever took their toll on East Anglian livestock marketing co-op Anglia Quality Meat during 2001. The co-op posted an £11,000 loss after tax, with pig numbers down by a quarter over the year. This compares with a post-tax profit of £44,500 in 2000. However, sheep and lamb numbers increased by 70%. During the year AQM marketed over 200,000 pigs, 42,000 cattle and calves and almost 32,000 sheep and lambs worth £18.8m, down £3.5m on the year.

&#8226 SUCKLER cow producers should soon receive claim forms for the 2002 Suckler Cow Premium Scheme, which opens on July 1. The procedure has changed this year, with up to 40% of the total cattle claimed now permitted to be heifers, and a new stocking density limit of 1.9LU/ha (0.8LU/acre). Any cattle claimed that dont fulfil the rules will trigger a penalty affecting all the producers bovine subsidy schemes, says the RPA. Closing date for submission of forms is Dec 6. &#42

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21 June 2002

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&#8226 BASF has produced a new free booklet The Complete Practical Guide to Combining Peas and Beans. "It tells you everything you need to know about growing the crop and has a waterproof cover so you can take it into the field with you," says the companys Diane Lovesey." &#42

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21 June 2002

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&#8226 USE a lab to find the most cost-effective way of storing farm-saved seed and malting barley, urges the NFU which offered a free test by Berks-based The Laboratory Company at Cereals 2002. "We assess its long-term storage potential by measuring viability and vigour, taking into account grain moisture and store temperature," says the firms Ken Shearing.

&#8226 RESULTS of the first comprehensive survey of how pesticides are applied on more than 800 farms will be announced by the Crop Protection Association at Sprays & Sprayers next week. &#42

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21 June 2002

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&#8226 ZINC deficiency in winter cereals has more than doubled in the past 20 years, warns nutrition company Phosyn.

Although it is rare to see classic symptoms, yellow tramlines on leaves should sound the alarm bells, says Phosyns Roy Houlden.

"Zinc is not being routinely put back into soils and as yields have gone up, more is being taken out," he says. "It is often worse where high phosphate applications have been made, or where maize is being grown."

His advice is to include trace elements when getting soil or tissue analysis done. "Check copper, zinc, boron and magnesium levels. Growers are used to addressing sulphur and manganese shortages, but do not always investigate other micro-nutrients."

&#8226 TO ensure stored grain stays in top-notch condition Surrey-based Terminix offers a full cleaning, treating and monitoring service.

After an initial free survey the firm tailors a "nursemaid" package to suit individual need and preserve crop value. Many growers fail to check stores before Christmas and so lose quality, says the firms Pete Jeffery.

&#8226 TWO new seed treatments are in the pipeline at Crompton Europe, the company formerly known as Uniroyal Chemical. A new insecticidal seed treatment for wheat bulb fly control has already been submitted to PSD for approval, while a fungicidal dressing for the control of fusarium and bunt in wheat is scheduled for autumn 2005. Cypermethrin is the active ingredient in the wheat bulb fly treatment, with initial results suggesting equivalent activity to tefluthrin. New low rate seed treatment chemistry is in the second product, which will be suitable for wheat, rye and triticale. &#42

New computer tool aids rotation planning, explains Monsantos Karen Lonergan.

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21 June 2002

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Gardening

TOP of the list of gardening attractions again this year is the Royal Show flower tent, one of the countrys biggest and best displays featuring new varieties and old favourites from many of the countrys leading specialist nurserymen. The plant creche will also be operating again this year, allowing those who buy plants at the show to leave them for collection later in the day, and there will also be flower-arranging demonstrations. Vegetable gardening is included as part of the Country Kitchen feature at grid ref E13.

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14 June 2002

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&#8226 LIVESTOCK producers wishing to acquire or dispose of Suckler Cow Premium Scheme quota will be able to do so from Tuesday (June 18). The scheme will run for almost six months until Dec 6 and applications must be received by the Rural Payments Agency on, or before, the day it receives producers 2002 SCPS claim. The SCPS will open for claims from July 1.

&#8226 CHEQUES for most wool producers are likely to be slightly up on last year, says the British Wool Marketing Board. According to the organisations 2002 wool price schedule, the average payment will be 48p/kg, compared with 42p/kg in 2001. Total clip was down 21% at 36m kg, largely due to foot-and-mouth. The disease also forced up the costs of handling wool from 19.4p/kg to 23p/kg. &#42

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14 June 2002

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&#8226 RED Barn Farm, Fradswell, is to be auctioned following the retirement of John Vernon, one of Staffordshires best known stockmen.

The 170-acre grass farm, which he bought in the mid-1970s with wife Mavis after running it as a tenant since the 1950s, will go under the hammer with Howkins & Harrison on Jun 19 and includes a 19th century dwelling. Guide price is £1m.

&#8226 SALOPIAN and mid-Wales auctioneers Halls successfully sold two blocks ofWelsh land in an environmentally sensitive area at auction last week.

Just under 75 acres at Llanbadarn Fynydd, near Llandrindod Wells, went for £146,000 (£1972/acre), while a further 63 acres known as Llethrllwymwynt Hill fetched £104,000 (£1650/acre). &#42

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14 June 2002

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uA NEW range of Specific Off-Label Approvals for herbicides on game cover crops has been secured after several years of crop safety screening trials by UAP in Oxon & N York, says technical director Chris Bean.

uHYBRIDS and GM crops have no place in the long-term plans of new plant breeder Cambrian Seeds. Instead it intends concentrating on small intensive programmes, with partners RAGT in France and DSV in Germany. &#42

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7 June 2002

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uINEFFICIENT nitrogen use has led to IGER producing a computer-based Decision Support System to help producers make the best decisions about their fertiliser. "The system will give individual field recommendations for fertiliser applications and organic manure use, based on data input into the program," says Lorna Brown of IGER. "It takes account of residual nitrogen available in soils and crop needs," she adds.

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7 June 2002

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uHIGH sugar grasses have a role to play in all farming systems, not just dairy herds, says Peter Wilkins of IGER. "Liveweight gain of Charolais steers on high sugar grass rose by 25% against a control group. This was a result of increased intakes of 20%," says Mr Wilkins. "Sheep grazing in a similar trial produced liveweight gains of 20%." Extra benefits of high sugar grasses included improved use of nitrogen by grazing livestock. &#42

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24 May 2002

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&#8226 FARMERS thinking of applying for grants under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme need to get their applications in the post soon, warns DEFRA. "The window for applications this year closes on May 31," said a spokeswoman for the organisation. "This date is not flexible so if people miss out they will have to wait until next year before getting another chance to apply."

&#8226 VIKING Grain Storage Ltd has pointed out that agreement has been reached in principle for Grainfarmers to take over the management of the store and the marketing of some grain from the Viking pool from harvest 2002 (Business, May 17). This means the move is subject to shareholder members approval, which will be sought over the next few weeks. &#42

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24 May 2002

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&#8226 ONE of the countrys leading herds of Angora goats is going under the hammer this Saturday (May 25). The Gillstone herd from Great Campston, near Abergavenny, is being sold by owner, Sue Gill. In 2000, the herd won the supreme championship at both the Royal Cornwall and the Welsh and West Angora goat show. The sale is taking place at Great Campston, Llanfihangel Crucorney, Monmouthshire. Sue Gill (01873-890465). &#42

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24 May 2002

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uMLC is heading up a three-year £1.8m research programme, across nine centres, to reduce pig production costs by 15p/kg deadweight. MLCs Mike Attenborough said this reduction in costs must be achieved through better feed use and reduced days to slaughter from the current 180 day average. Reducing days to slaughter to 155 days is worth 7p/kg and there are producers already achieving that, he added.

uDEVELOPING the UK pig industry is to be given a boost by a new annual research fellowship announced at the Pig and Poultry Fair. Sponsored by Nat West and the Royal Agricultural College, it aims to encourage new ideas and provide focus and inspiration to the industry. The 2002 fellowship has been awarded to Tom Danter, director of Provimi, who will present his review of the Business challenge facing the UK pig industry in November.

uMLC and the Food Standards Agency have launched a joint-funded Zoonoses Action Plan to monitor salmonella as part of an initiative to differentiate British pigmeat and reassure consumers that it is safe. Speaking at the launch, MLC vet Derek Armstrong said the FSA wants a 20% reduction in food borne infections by 2006 due to increasing pressure from customers and the EU. One in 50 pigs will be sampled at abattoirs, with the abattoir paying for sampling.

uTHE Pig Yearbook 2002 is now available and it will help those trying to find opportunities as the industry recovers, said BPEX manager Mick Sloyan, it pulls together research and economic data which can help producers lower pig production costs and improve their competitive position. Copies are available from MLC (01908-844396, fax 01908-609826).

uTHE state of the pig industry may not inspire many, but the winner of the Stellamune Agskills Trainee of the Year Award proves that despite the problems, the future is still bright for some producers. Richard Shirley, employed by LKL Farming, won the award for what the judges described as "maturity beyond his years and a willingness to apply himself". Mr Shirley, 18, plans to use the money from his award to help finance a study tour of Australia to look at outdoor pig keeping. &#42

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24 May 2002

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uUREA-BASED Sunburst, a foliar treatment aimed at enhancing wheat proteins, has changed hands. The former Stefes product, which is used at a quarter the rate of straight urea, also has a wider application window and causes less scorch, notes new owner New-Trition.

uPOTATO growers planning to apply sugar-based Fulcrum CRV should dig down to ensure it goes on at the optimum stolon initiation timing, says supplier SVG Intermol. That is typically about 95% crop emergence, says the firms Phil Holder.

uMARKETING co-op Fengrains emphasis on successful teamwork and good communications has been recognised in an Investor in People award by the government-sponsored Business Link. Last year the Cambs-based business traded over 520,000t of grain for its 550 members. &#42

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17 May 2002

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&#8226 WHEAT breadmaking quality this harvest is set to be better than in 2001, predict Harper Adams University College researchers.

There is a 75% chance that specific weights will be about 76.3kg/hl and Hagbergs about 281, says project leader, Peter Kettlewell, who bases the HGCA-funded forecasts on over-winter differences in atmospheric pressure in the North Atlantic Oscillation, the northern hemispheres equivalent of El Niño.

Judged against HGCA figures, last years first prediction using the technique proved accurate, he says. "But there is always room for improvement, and this year we will be publishing regionally-based results as well as a national figure."

&#8226 A NEW feature at this years Royal Show will be British Potatoes: Growing Quality. Backed by all sectors of the industry, it is the first in a series of field-to-fork displays and intends to illustrate every aspect of production from seed through to a range of finished products.

&#8226 EUROPEAN potato breeder Agrico and specialist crop company Solanum say they have joined forces to develop new UK varieties and agronomy packages. &#42

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10 May 2002

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uITALY has been refused permission to pay farmers in the Sardegna region a special subsidy covering the additional cost of using gas-oil rather than methane. The Italian authorities say the aid is justified because there is no methane pipeline in the region and farmers are disadvantaged. But Brussels watchdogs have ruled it an illegal state aid.

uFRANCE has confirmed its first case of classical swine fever in a commercial herd, following the recent discovery of the disease in a wild pig in the east of the country. Several non-EU countries, including the Czech Republic, Romania and South Africa, have banned French imports. Combined with movement restrictions, prices have fallen sharply.

uLATVIA is demanding a much bigger milk quota as it prepares for final negotiations on EU membership. Brussels has so far offered the country 490,000t of quota, based on 1995-1999 production. But, according to a recent government study, current production is 850,000t and the sector needs at least 1.2m tonnes if it is to avoid being frozen at recession levels.

uFRANCE has lifted its six-year-old ban on imports of beef and cattle from Switzerland after a drop in the incidence of BSE in that country. To be eligible the animals must have been born after Jan 1, 2001. The move means Swiss beef can now enter four EU countries and the authorities hope the French decision will "snowball". &#42

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10 May 2002

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&#8226 BRITISH Potato 2003 will take place on September 3 and September 4 next year at Newark Showground, Notts. The biannual two-day event will include working machinery demonstrations. &#42

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10 May 2002

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uCONTINUING retail demand for premium turkeys has lead Kelly Turkeys to increase promotion of their KellyBronze franchise scheme. With demand outstripping supply last Christmas, Kelly Turkeys are seeking new producers to take on franchises. "It is a profitable niche product," says Paul Kelly. Stand 91

uINCREASED biosecurity concerns have led Farm Assist Aston to develop a range of disinfectants, sanitisers and fumigants. The products are suitable for use in poultry and other livestock housing, together with foot and wheel dips, transport and processing plants, says the firm. The range is described as reliable products sold at competitive prices. Stand 100

uAN announcement by the government on the future of egg production systems has been welcomed by the British Egg Industry Council. There had been fears that DEFRA would outlaw enriched cages. Andrew Parker, BEIC chairman, reacted to the announcement by saying: "Permitting enriched cages will allow us to continue to produce competitively priced eggs, while protecting the industry from cheaper imports." Stand 69

uHIGHER consumer demand has led to a doubling in the number of free range and barn eggs produced in the UK under the Freedom Food banner, according to figures released by the RSPCA. Mike Sharpe, chief executive of Freedom Food, said he was delighted with the difference consumers were making to the lives of laying hens. Stand 218

uTHE worlds largest pig breeding company will be celebrating its 40th birthday at the Pig and Poultry Fair. PIC, formed in 1962, has developed to the stage where its genetics are found in more than 50% of UK herds. "The industry has changed dramatically over the last 40 years, but PIC has the global resources to continue advancing the UK pig industry," says Steve Dunstan, PIC general manager. Stand 312

uWANT to know how to secure a future in pigs or poultry, then ADAS is keen to talk you though its business solutions to help identify ways to maintain a competitive edge. ADAS believes there is a range of options to consider, including diversification, adding value, meeting customer needs and working with the environment. Stand 101. &#42

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10 May 2002

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&#8226 STROBILURIN fungicides advance onto UK cereals farms is highlighted by a National Farm Research Unit which has found over 84% of farmers have used them.

Strob uptake since their launch five years ago has increased rapidly. In 1997 only 8% of 14,000 cereals farms surveyed had used them. Last year four in every five farms were applying them to their wheat and barley, says the NFRU.

The most prolific strob users are in the east, with uptake in the west lagging by about 20%, it notes.

Bearing in mind the discovery of mildew resistance to strobilurins and fears for yellow rust resistance, the NFRUs Mike Heisig comments: "It must be said that some of these farms may be applying these products in too profligate a manner."

&#8226 OILSEED rapes benefits as a healthy food and green industrial crop will be extolled to the public as part of the NFUs summer Food and Farming Roadshows which started this week. The charm offensive includes a specially produced "Sunshine Crop" leaflet about oilseed rape, cooking demonstrations using the oil, and an opportunity to handle the crop.

&#8226 THERE may still be time to tackle ryegrass in cereals this season, according to Syngenta.

Perennial and Italian species, increasing problems in wheat and barley, can succumb to treatment with Grasp (tralkoxydim) up to and including crop growth stage 39, notes the firms Ian Stott.

"The key is to target the right growth rate. The better the speed of growth, the better the kill." Sprayer speeds of 5mph work best, he adds.

&#8226 YELLOW rust pressure may be low for now, but be aware that Consorts resistance rating has dropped from a nine to a six, warns NIAB pathologist Rosemary Bayles. That reflects the arrival of the new Oxbow strain of the disease, which can infect Consort. Crops aroundthe Wash could be particularly vulnerable. &#42

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3 May 2002

Protect against blight

Blue skies and bone-dry

soils greeted visitors to

the Roots 2002 event on

Lincolnshire Showground

last week. Charles Abel

provides a round-up of

news and views

WITH curative blight spray cymoxanil now off-patent growers have a new opportunity to tailor protectant programmes to blight pressure. At Roots 2002 one manufacturer explained how improved forecasting could help too.

Now Sipcam is offering cymoxanil as a straight, as C50, growers have the chance to make greater use of lower-cost protectant blight spray programmes.

"If the crop has been subject to intense pressure, or target spray dates missed, the addition of a fungicide such as cymoxanil with its curative properties alongside a protectant like fluazinam, provides a valuable additional option for growers," says ADAS blight specialist Nick Bradshaw.

To support the use of protectant spray Shirlan (fluazinam), Syngenta is working with Dacom Plant Systems to offer the first blight forecasting system that uses weather forecasts as well as historical data to determine blight risk.

"It is the first forward-looking system, which uses in-field data," says product manager Ben Miles. By providing live information rather than advice which could be several days out of date it hopes to help growers move on from the use of protectant sprays based on routine applications.

Last year the approach was tested with packers, processors and growers. This year it is available to all via the Blight Forecaster service at www.syngenta-potato.co.uk

Data from in-field monitoring on 15 farms in key risk areas across the UK is sent to the Netherlands for processing by Plant Systems parent company. Three-day weather forecast data is included and the result displayed as the risk to an unprotected crop for the next 24-hours, updated four times a day.

"Blight Forecaster will immediately tell growers when a blight risk has occurred and, if they havent been able to get a fungicide on in advance, highlight the benefit of including C50 in the tank mix, to enhance the kick-back control of any blight spores," says Mr Miles.

C50 will be available for over 30,000ha, says Sipcams Paul Hunter.

"One of the main advantages of the option to mix these two products is that it provides growers with the opportunity to tailor rates to the specific blight risk," continues Mr Miles.

Where blight spores may have infected unprotected foliage Syngenta advises adding 0.18kg/ha of C50, equivalent to 90gai/ha, to 300ml/ha Shirlan. For enhanced kick-back to cover a prolonged delay or intense blight pressure, increase C50 to 0.24kg/ha, equivalent to 120gai/ha, he says. But in all cases the rate of the protectant should be held up.

In trials on highly blight-susceptible Courlan last year the combination gave industry-leading blight control, particularly of blight rot in store, he notes.

BASFs Simon Townsend agrees that the rate of the protectant needs to be kept up, adding that in Danish application trials Ranman (cyazofamid) has shown the best rainfastness and persistency among protectant products.

&#8226 While the arrival of C50 is good news for growers BPCs Rob Clayton warns against complacency. "Growers could see this as an opportunity to relax protectant programmes, because they are better able to clean up infections if they occur. But it is far better to be on top of the job in the first place with blight."

Bone-dry conditions at Roots 2002, but blight was still a topic for debate. New forecasting service and an updated Shirlan label will help growers, says Ben Miles of Syngenta.

Rhizo control to continue

RHIZOMANIA precautions are set to continue across English production areas this year, with details due to be announced any week.

Although statutory controls have been removed industry agreement is likely to see changes to the beet-growing contract to limit the diseases spread.

"Our priority is to prevent the disease spreading any further. If it does, even with tolerant varieties, we will be looking at a 25:25 vision to protect the industry, not 20:20," says British Sugar director Karl Carter.

"We still believe that with the NFU we can keep the control going and can do it without penalising growers with the disease on their land. We will be looking at when crops from infected farms are processed rather than where the crop should be grown."

Help from government is not out of the question, he adds. "Awareness of the p-type of the disease means they are looking at providing some support. The worry is that if the p-type spreads and tolerant varieties turn out not to be resistant to it, then DEFRA may have to go back to Brussels to ask for protected zone status to be reintroduced."

Super-pure sugar beet claims answer

BEET growers pursuing compensation for losses caused by Wissington factorys inability to process super-pure sugar beet are likely to get an answer within two weeks.

Last week British Sugar received what it describes as a small number of outstanding claims from the NFU. But while the number of claims is said to be below 100 they are believed to include some significant crop areas.

"We will be evaluating the claims and hope to resolve the issue within the next two or three weeks," says BS director Karl Carter.

Meanwhile, the company urges growers to maintain their efforts to produce pure crops. Beet which turned out to be so free of impurities that it clogged Wissington factorys filters with super-fine particles need not be a problem in future, insists British Sugar.

"We have put in the measures to deal with the problem and we want to be able to process these purer crops in future," says Mr Carter. "It means extra sugar yield for growers and better extraction for us, so it is in the interests of the whole industry to keep producing pure beet crops."

In addition to the £2m spent on a new system at Wissington, other factories have also been upgraded, he notes. While acknowledging that it was a learning process this past campaign, he claims to be "very confident" that what has been put in place will solve the problem.

New rules on contract tonnages, which apply to last years crop but not previous ones, mean growers who fell below quota last year have not been penalised this year, even if they had fallen below quota in the two previous years, notes Mr Carter.

The new system means growers will face a temporary cut if they under-perform again this year. But provided they meet quota last years shortfall will be cancelled, he explains. Only if tonnage is below quota for three years in a row is the contract permanently cut. &#42

Crop check before placing the blame

CHECK seed management, planting and herbicide use before picking up the phone to blame seed or chemical suppliers if establishment is less than ideal this spring, urges the BPC.

After last years establishment difficulties and four years of problems with seed treatment fungicides the BPC is keen to minimise tension this spring.

"Often failed emergence can be explained by a host of things, like planting misses, herbicide over-dosing, frost pockets and mistimed use of pre-emergence contact herbicides," he says.

There have also been reports of slug-damaged seed and blackleg, particularly in susceptible varieties lifted late and stored wet, he notes.

Seed selection also plays a key role. Better knowledge of the seed and its production can iron out many problems, he stresses. Merchant Scott Countrys invitation for ware growers to visit seed producers makes particular sense, he comments.

Rhizo testing just got a whole lot easier with the introduction of this new in-field kit from CSL. Capable of detecting both the common rhizo strain and the newly discovered p-type it requires just a few drops of juice from a leaf sample to give an answer in 2-3 minutes, explains CSLs Chris Danks. The test was developed for under £40,000 using funds from the British Beet Research Organisation. Cost is £15/four slides.

Monitoring growth brings benefits

Checking crop emergence can provide an accurate guide to when tuber initiation will start for any given variety, so common scab irrigation can be targeted more accurately.That can make a big difference. According to BPC-funded work at Cambridge University Farm a one-day delay in irrigation can leave 70% of tubers vulnerable to infection. Full details are given in a BPC fact sheet (01865 782270,e-mail research@potato.org.uk)

IN BRIEF

&#8226 ORGANIC sugar beet cropping has doubled this year, despite British Sugars disastrous foray into the crop last year. Although growers managed to supply the crop, extracted juice became contaminated when the valve on a storage tank failed at Newark factory. "We have kept to our plan and doubled the production to 20,000t for this year," says Karl Carter. To avoid a repeat of the valve failure, which allowedconventional beet juice to mix with the organic juice, the entire pipe supplying the storage tank will be removed once the tank is full, he explains. "It sounds extreme, but we dont want a repeat of last year." &#42

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3 May 2002

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nCONSUMER attitudes to Channel Island milk and milk products are to be investigated by Promar International, in an MDC-funded project. Key objectives of the research include assessing potential for improved marketing to increase domestic and international sales, say MDC.

nAN analysis of organic milk production, use by dairies and consumer attitudes is to be conducted by the Welsh Institute of Rural Studies, Taylor Nelson Sofres and the Soil Association. The partnership will begin work in May having been awarded a research tender from the MDC.

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26 April 2002

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uMINISTERS gave a positive response to commission plans to ban the last four antibiotics used as growth promoters in animal feed in Luxembourg. The aim is to remove them from the food chain by January 2006, to reduce antibiotic resistance in humans. Farm ministers from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Austria and Germany said it should be done sooner.

uFRANCE reported its first case of classical swine fever in more than a decade, in a wild boar close to the border with Luxembourg and Germany. The ministry of agriculture established a protection zone and banned farmers in the area from exporting pigs. It described the discovery as "a serious sanitary threat".

uLEGISLATION on soil quality is in the pipeline, following the launch of a new EU strategy paper. The report contains no specific proposals but suggests soil has been neglected by EU legislators and more must be done to fight pollution and erosion. It calls for extra agri-environment measures and a new directive to encourage the use of certified compost.

uTHE UK still has the highest incidence of BSE in the EU, according to statistics put to this weeks farm council. In the first three months of the year 272 cases were reported, followed by 116 in Ireland and 82 in France. In total there have been 125 cases of variant CJD in humans, of which 117 are in the UK and six are in France. &#42

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26 April 2002

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&#8226 ALLIED Mills has given new group 2 breadmaking winter wheat Chatsworth the thumbs-up, including it on its recently released 2002 Home-Grown Wheat Variety Classification list. The variety is the stiffest-strawed available and can be sown safely in early September, says breeder Cebeco Seeds.

&#8226 ADVICE on how to prevent a repeat of last years tuber blight problems in store is the topic of a BASF seminar at the Potato Storage Event at Sutton Bridge on May 1.

Top Dutch blight researcher Wilbert Flier will present the latest thinking on combating the disease, including the value of an earlier start to crop protection.

&#8226 NON-FOOD crops are the subject of a new feature area at the Royal Show on July 1-4, promoting crops with real potential to boost arable farm incomes, says event organiser, the RASE.

Technical information for a range of crops will detail production, processing, storage and markets. Companies involved include British Biogen, Central Science Laboratory, ADAS and the British Association for Bio-Fuels and Oils.

&#8226 BRITISH Seed Houses has won top merchant status in the cereal and herbage seed categories of the British Association of Seed Producers annual awards.

The accolade recognises seed cleaning, purity and general appearance of the business.

&#8226 BOOST blackgrass control in set-aside burn-down by adding adjuvant Stamina to glyphosate, suggests supplier Interagro. Stamina improves the rainfastness and weed control of glyphosate formulations in wet conditions, doubling the level of weed control, the company claims. &#42

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19 April 2002

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&#8226 ORGANIC strawberry and apple production are the subjects of two new DEFRA-funded growers guides available from the HDRA. Each booklet contains sections on varieties, soil fertility, weed control, habitat management, pests and diseases and their control, economics and marketing, and other practical apsects of production. Copies cost £8 (024-7630 3517).

&#8226 LEAF has been awarded a £10,750 grant to develop its activities in Scotland. The award, given by Scottish Natural Heritage, will be used to promote the uptake of Integrated Farm Management and raise consumer awareness. &#42

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19 April 2002

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uNEW independent trials show that SL567A (metalaxyl-M) systemic carrot fungicide gives best cavity spot control when applied as a single full dose at the first true leaf stage, rather than straight after drilling, says Syngenta. The work also confirmed there is no advantage from split-dose treatments. To suit smaller growers the product is now being sold in one litre packs as well as 5-litre LinkPaks.

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19 April 2002

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uA NEW nozzle selection chart from the HGCA promises to help growers match nozzle to spray target this spring. The chart updates the 1999 version with latest trials data and new products, including air-induction nozzles, says Paul Miller of Silsoe Research Institute, who helped compile the chart.

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19 April 2002

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&#8226 CREEPING thistle, which can slash sugar beet yields, has roots which can go as deep as 5m and is so prolific that just one plant can spread infestation over 80sq m within two years. That is the background to Dow Agrosciences new technical guide to controlling the weed. Tel: 0800 689 8899 for a free copy.

uSCIENTISTS at Leeds University have pinpointed the plant gene linked to the production cytokinin plant hormone. They believe the discovery could eventually help improve the shelf life of vegetables and flowers.

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19 April 2002

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uBUTTERFLIES on the farm is the theme of this years FWAG farm walks sponsored by Hydro Agri. The organised walks in June, open to the public, will show how retaining and creating habitats and integrating them with commercial demands can attract the insects. Details from mid-May (020-7669 8702 or jane.hampson@fwag.org.uk). &#42

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5 April 2002

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&#8226 CURATIVE and protectant dose response curves for the strobilurins are presented on the HGCAs latest topic sheet Using New Strobilurin Fungicides on Cereals. Copies from HGCA on 020-7520 3920 or visit www.hgca.com

&#8226 GROWER feedback is requested on the new sclerotinia risk decision guide launched on the agriknowledge web-site www.agriknowledge.co.uk earlier this week. By entering crop and farm data disease risk is classified as low, medium or high and spray decisions can be tuned accordingly. &#42

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29 March 2002

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&#8226 THIS years Pig and Poultry Fair will take place at Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warks, on May 15 and May 16. However, to ensure there is no risk of spreading foot-and-mouth, livestock will not be exhibited, say the organisers, RASE. Seminars focussing on pig health and welfare will also take place on both days, covering pig wasting diseases, salmonella and EU pig welfare standards. For further information contact Jane Spence at RASE (024-7685 8275, fax 024-7669 6900).

&#8226 PORCOFRAM Marketing is to survey pig production and marketing strategies in Europe and the UK to devise a blueprint for producers in collaboration with processors and retailers. Using a £125,000 government grant, it hopes to build on the collaboration which exists within the Glanbia Producer Group, supplying Glanbia Fresh Meats, and to the pig industry in general, adds Tony Suckling of Porcoframs parent company BOCM PAULS. &#42

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29 March 2002

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&#8226 RECRUITING adequate skilled labour to work on UK dairy farms has become a problem, but it is one a new MDC and Lantra-funded project aims to address.

MDC technical manager Brian Lindsay says that after consultation with milk producers, it is evident that skilled labour is a critical issue. MDC is now inviting tenders from research bodies and consultants to investigate the problem and find practical, innovative and applicable solutions. &#42

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22 March 2002

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&#8226 MILK producers are being offered free bulk milk tests by Bayer Animal Health to identify whether herds have infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) to help with disease control plans and investigate incidence. Bayer says that sample bottles are available from vets and it advises taking two samples, one from the whole herd and one from first lactation animals only. It suggests stripping and mixing milk from milking heifers in a jam jar to collect a suitable sample.

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22 March 2002

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&#8226 WOOLLEY and Wallis is launching a 90-acre dairy farm at Fernham, near Faringdon, Oxfordshire.

Fernham Farm features a five-bedroomed Victorian dwelling and 35,000sq ft of modern buildings, including a 12:12 herringbone milking parlour and 1000t silage clamp. Guide price is £1.1m, says selling agent James Higham.

&#8226 GRANGE Farm, Chediston, Suffolk, is up for sale with Bidwells. The 306-acre arable unit comes with a moated, nine-bedroomed, Grade 2 listed manor house in need of some refurbishment.

The firms Jim Bryant is valuing the property at £1.4m and expects both residential and farming interest. &#42

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22 March 2002

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&#8226 SILAGE eye is becoming more common among cattle fed older forage stocks and without vet treatment severe infection of the eye may occur, says Glos-based vet Chris Watson. "Poorer quality forage can be dry and tends to break down easily producing debris, which can physically invade the eye, or there is contact with spoiled silage. To avoid it, dont fully fill a ring feeder/trough with poor silage," he suggests. &#42

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22 March 2002

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uTRAVEL awards of up to £1750 to study water management in agriculture are on offer through the Jack Wright Memorial Trust. Details from the Secretary, 21 Arwenack Avenue, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 3JW or e-mail: JWMT@yahoogroups.com. &#42

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22 March 2002

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uLINSEED growers wanting seed treated against flea beetle need not look abroad. "Many growers assume that there are no flea beetle seed treatments after the loss of approval for lindane-based treatments in the UK," says Julie Goult of Dalgety Arable. "But Chinook (beta-cyfluthrin + imidacloprid) is permitted as a read across from oilseed rape. Dalgety Arable has a limited tonnage available in the UK for this spring."

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22 March 2002

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uEXTRA data demands from PSD on Aventiss new mid to late-season blight fungicide, a fenamidone plus mancozeb formulation sold as Sereno in France, mean it is unlikely to be launched this season, says the firms Eileen Bardsley. "We submitted exactly the same data package in France and it has been approved there, but weve been asked for more data here. It does seem our authorities are a bit stricter."

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15 March 2002

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&#8226 IRELAND is in danger of under-spending the k2bn (£1.3bn) of EU and national funding available for its Rural and Environmental Protection Scheme due to the low uptake. So far only half the 70,000 farmers projected to join have signed up, prompting calls from the Irish Farmers Association for the scheme to be simplified and the payment rates increased.

&#8226 A SCHEME to help Spanish milk producers buy-up milk quota in the Asturias region has been declared illegal by state aid watchdogs in Brussels. The aid took the form of an interest rate subsidy, paid to producers looking to expand. Spain has been given two months to take measures to recoup the money, worth around k240,000 (£148,300).

&#8226 BRUSSELS has approved state aids worth k1m (£618,000) to farmers in the German state of Nordrhein-Westfalen as compensation for market losses due BSE. The aid will take the form of a 5% interest rate subsidy on existing loans, with up to k25/cow (£15.45/cow) subsidy available on new loans. Up to 500 beef farmers will benefit. &#42

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15 March 2002

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&#8226 PANT Farm, a 188-acre upland livestock rearing farm, near Sarn, in the Welsh borders, is available from Shrewsbury-based firm Halls, after the decision of Cambrian Land, a Welsh farming company, to reorganise its business.

Including a five-bedroomed house and 17 acres of IACS-registered land, the whole property is being valued at £500,000 but has also been split four ways.

&#8226 MOOR End Farm, Gnossall, Staffs, is due to go under the hammer on Mar 20 with joint auctioneers Hinson Parry and Barbers handling the sale.

Mike Taylor, of Barbers, says there has already been plenty of interest in the 143-acre, fully equipped dairy farm which is guided at over £600,000. More than 60% of the land is IACS-registered and accommodation is a four-bedroomed house at the centre of the farm. &#42

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8 March 2002

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&#8226 INDIFFERENT responses to sulphur in spring malting barley in a mixed farming area of Scotland are probably due to farmyard manures providing sufficient sulphur for plant needs. The SAC in Aberdeen sprayed sulphur onto growing plants at various timings, but got a maximum yield response of just 6%, despite low or moderate soil S levels.

&#8226 A NEW computer model for estimating PCN numbers in fields earmarked for potatoes can predict the risk to the crop. But commercial sampling methods need improving, says the SCRIs David Trudgill. Soil type, PCN number and type, varieties grown, rotation, control methods and expected yield are fed into the model, which then forecasts how present and future crops will be affected by PCN and how the potential infestation will be affected by changes in control or planting strategy. But Dr Trudgill warns that routine sampling methods for PCN on farms are too variable to be used with the model because they can miss PCN "hot spots". &#42

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8 March 2002

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&#8226 WILL you be drilling sugar beet on turning headlands this spring? Typically yields are 20-50% less. Averaged across the whole rotation having such areas in permanent set-aside would increase profit by £9/ha, says IACR-Brooms Barns Mike May. Similarly wet holes, shaded, or grazed areas would be better not cropped, he says.

&#8226 DONT just let it sit there, do something is the message from Mike May, of IACR-Brooms Barn, to growers on weed beet. Control of low populations rarely gives an economic return, but prolific seeding and long dormancy means bolters and true weed beet must not be ignored. "I regard it almost as a stealth weed in the way it creeps up."

&#8226 UK dirt tares are the lowest in Europe. Averaging just 6.5% by weight delivered to factory, UK figures for harvest 2001 were just ahead of Swedish, Spanish and Austrian dirt tares, all at 7%. The figures, based on the CEFS campaign survey 2001, show France delivered most soil to its factories, at 20%. &#42

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8 March 2002

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uOLIVER Seeds has launched its free 2002 Grass & Forage Guide. It features established grass and forage varieties, alongside new and improved varieties, mixtures and growing systems of grass, maize and fodder crops (0800-0561122, fax 01522-507319).

uA TECHNICAL manual, said to contain all the information producers need to know to grow and feed a successful crop of maize, is being offered by Nickerson. It is written by independent authors, providing advice on fertiliser application, weed control and ration inclusion (01472-371220, fax 01472-371386). &#42

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8 March 2002

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&#8226 SOMERSET firm Greenslade Taylor Hunt is holding a collective property auction on Mar 22. Included will be a 36-acre block of land and buildings at Harpford Farm, Langford Budville, near Wellington. The guide is £80,000-100,000.

Also set to go under the hammer is 30-acre Lower Whatley Farm, Otterford, Chard.

Its listed farmhouse in need of complete renovation is valued at about £250,000 with 16 acres, while the remaining land in two lots is priced at about £2000/acre.

&#8226 FPDSavills has de-merged its property buying department into a separate subsidiary to be known as Prime Purchase.

Justin Marking, formerly in charge of rural property at Savills, will be heading up the new operation. He says part of the reason for forming the independent company was to avoid any potential conflict of interest when recommending properties to potential purchasers.

Clients will pay a registration charge and further fees on success. &#42

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1 March 2002

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&#8226 TREATING spring barley seed carrying less than 15% net blotch infection is probably not worthwhile. Trials by Valerie Cockerell, of the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency, show below that level other sources of inoculum can have a greater effect. That means more than 93% of seed planted in the past two years in Scotland did not need a seed treatment against barley net blotch.

&#8226 MILDER wet winters may be encouraging annual sow thistles to compete with oilseed rape and hinder harvesting, a Dow AgroSciences survey suggests. "Of the 17,000ha of rape represented in the survey, around 38% was said to harbour significant populations," warns Rene Pollak. "The key to superior control is to be aware of which species is being targeted and to spray the weeds when oilseed rape canopies are still open." Using Dow Shield (clopyralid) at 1 litre/ha before the weed passes the four-leaf stage gave over 92% control in replicated trials last year.

&#8226 LATE season spraying appears to be the best way to overcome the spring barley leaf-spotting complex, which is usually found in conjunction with Ramularia collo-cygni. Growers should use a strobilurin with a triazole at GS45 (boots swollen), advises Neil Havis of SAC Edinburgh because later strobilurin use risks delayed ripening. Early results from HGCA-funded SAC trials show good control of Ramularia with azoxystrobin or trifloxystrobin, with chlorothalonil and cyprodinil also having an inferior, yet significant, effect. Chariot is most susceptible and Optic the least affected variety. &#42

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1 March 2002

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&#8226 RYEGRASS, present on about 10% of the UK crop area, is an increasing threat to wheat yields as growers move away from isoproturon-based autumn herbicides, warns Dalgety. The weeds potential to trim ouput is largely underestimated, says the firms Bob Bulmer who recommends Grasp (tralkoxydim) in March or April to avoid losses of up to 12.5% from 50 plants/sq m. &#42

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1 March 2002

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&#8226 THE deadline for woodland improvement grants at the imp-roved 75% rate, introduced in the wake of foot-and-mouth, has been extended by the Forestry Comm-ission by an extra year to Mar 10, 2003. New applications for the higher level of payment must be submitted by the end of July. Claims agreed since April 2001 will also qualify. The deadline for prior ag-reements remains March 2002.

SOUTH-WEST co-op Cornwall Farmers has announced a £3.5m boost in turnover to almost £40m. Profits after tax stood at £357,000, which enabled a 4% interest payment on share capital to the groups members.

The co-op has also bought BOCM Pauls forage division, placing it among the UKs top five suppliers of forage. &#42

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22 February 2002

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&#8226 THE deadline for woodland improvement grants at the impr-oved 75% rate, introduced in the wake of foot-and-mouth, has been extended by the Forestry Commis-sion by an extra year until Mar 10, 2003. New applications for the higher level of payment need to be submitted by the end of July. Claims agreed since April 2001 will also qualify. The deadline for prior agreements remains March 2002.

&#8226 DAIRY farmers needing extra quota to ensure their positions are adequately covered or to enable the release of milk cheques held by milk buyers should act soon. The deadline for submitting forms to the Rural Payments Agency for the transfer of leased quota is Mar 31, while paperwork for permanent transfer must be sent to the RPA by Mar 1.

&#8226 THE 2002 Suckler Cow Prem-ium Scheme quota national reserve application period will open on Mar 1 and run until Mar 28. But scheme administrator the Rural Payments Agency warns the supply of GB lowland and English Less Favoured Area quota for this years scheme is very low and all allocations are unlikely to be made.

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22 February 2002

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&#8226 ALL BPC levy-payers should have you received their free copy of the BPC Store Managers Guide? If not, call the BPC (01865-782222 or e-mail publications@potato.org.uk). The guide is also available to non-levy payers, price £80.

&#8226 IF you store potatoes, keep May 1 free for the Potato Storage Event at Sutton Bridge Experimental Unit, says the BPC. A series of seminars and agronomy related to storage issues will run alongside stands from many equipment companies. Entry is free to levy payers or £10 to non-payers.

&#8226 WINTER beans have averaged a 0.6t/ha yield response to manganese applications at flowering for the past two years, says ProCam senior agronomist Nick Myers. "For an input cost of £3/ha that is something that needs to be borne in mind. We have had similar responses with spring beans." &#42

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15 February 2002

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uEU finance ministers have given a frosty response to the commissions proposals to spend k40.2bn (£24.6bn) on enlargement from 2004 to 2006. Meeting in Brussels on Tuesday (Feb 12), they said the plan was too expensive. And the UK joined others in attacking the idea of paying even a reduced level of income aid to farmers in the new member states.

uSUPPORT for EU membership in Poland has slipped following publication of the commissions enlargement proposals, which suggest farmers in new member states should get just 25% of the direct payments for existing farmers, reports Reuters. A poll by a Warsaw research centre found 54% favoured membership compared with 60% in December.

uHEAD of the Belgian food agency AFSCA, Luc Beernaert, has resigned following further failures in the countrys safety controls. Last week samples of pig feed slipped through untested and were later found to contain cancer-causing polychlorinate biphenyls (PCBs). This week traces of the banned antibiotic sulphonimide turned up in poultry feed.

uEU food safety commissioner David Byrne has written to German farm minister Renate Kunast demanding a full explanation as to how a lab in Bavaria was able to test for BSE without a licence and four other labs operated to unacceptable standards. The scandal has led to the recall of large quantities of beef and further dented German consumer confidence. &#42

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15 February 2002

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uTHE first tractor registration figures to be released this year by the Agricultural Engineers Association (AEA) reveal that January saw 716 units being recorded. This is an impressive 48.9% increase on the same period last year and one which the industry will undoubtedly hope can be sustained in ensuing months.

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15 February 2002

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uCERVA has published a technical folder which clarifies the European Standard (EN858) for the design, installation and maintenance of oil/water separators. Produced with the support of the Environment Agency, it is aimed at those intending to install drainage systems for collecting surface water contaminants (023-8068 7100, e-mail amccarthy@conder.com). &#42

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15 February 2002

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&#8226 CHIPPENHAM market has changed its market day from Friday to Thursday in response mainly to new government regulations. The markets operators, Premier Livestock Auctions, said the decision was not an easy one, but the closure of Gloucester market and its Thursday sale last year also had an influence. The Cocklebury Road site hopes to reopen for business on its new sale day later this month, once it has been granted a license to start trading again.

&#8226 ASHFORD cattle market has announced its charges are to remain the same when it reopens. Despite extra biosecurity costs, the Ashford Cattle Market Companys tolls and Hobbs Parkers commissions will not rise. &#42

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25 January 2002

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uNEW spring barley Prestige could be Europes next number one malting variety, believes breeder Monsanto. The firm says the Cork/Chariot offsprings exceptional adaptability has given yields as good or better than market leaders under a wide range of conditions from Scandinavia to Spain and Ireland to Poland.

uEYESPOT will be a problem for cereal growers this year, warns ADAS pathologist Bill Clark. The stem-base disease was already present in September-drilled wheat in November and the New Year frosts will not have made much difference to infection levels. "You can get 10-30% yield loss without even seeing whiteheads at harvest," he warns. &#42

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25 January 2002

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&#8226 THE countries thought most likely to join the EU first met in Prague this week to agree a united front for impending accession negotiations. The so-called Luxembourg group, (of the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia), want full access to direct aid from the day they join. Brussels will unveil its plans next week.

&#8226 FOOD quality controllers in several European countries are trying to track down consignments of animal feed from Germany, which have been contaminated with fishmeal containing the antibiotic chloramphenicol. The contamination is believed to have come from a delivery of shrimps from China and processed in the Netherlands last November.

&#8226 AN Irish livestock farmer has been jailed for four years for laundering over £5m through various bureau-de-change in London during 2000/2001. Patrick Coughlin from Co Clare was involved in a cigarette smuggling scam, changing the money mostly into Italian lira. He pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering and smuggling.

&#8226 GERMANY reported a fresh outbreak of classical swine fever on a farm in the Bitburg area near the border with Luxembourg this week. About 200 pigs on the farm have been destroyed, with a 3km-quarantine zone established around the holding. The source of the outbreak is believed to be wild boars. &#42

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25 January 2002

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&#8226 FIND out the latest whole-crop research results and user experiences of growing and feeding such forage at this years Whole-Crop Forage Conference on Feb 6 at Harper Adams University College, Shropshire. Places must be booked with the Maize Growers Association and cost £22, or £20 for members (01189-761276, fax 01189-761451)

&#8226 PIG units with 750 sows or more than 2000 pigs over 30kg will sooner or later have to meet the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control requirements, according to ADAS. To help producers plan for this eventuality, ADAS has organised a series of meetings, on behalf of DEFRA. Meetings begin on Feb 6 (01902-693197, fax 01902-693178).

&#8226 STRUGGLING to keep digital dermatitis at bay this winter? Find out more about coping with this difficult disease from a leading expert Richard Laven, says MDC. The organisation has organised two producer meetings, at Truro, Cornwall on Jan 31 and Shepton Mallet, Somerset, on Feb 1, (01285-646503, fax 01285-646501). &#42

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18 January 2002

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&#8226 AGRONOMY training on offer from Arable Research Centres has won financial support from DEFRA, cutting prices by 75% this winter. ARC members and non-members now pay just £23.75 for a full day and £16.25 for a half-day course. A total of 60 courses are available across England, including cultivations, agronomy, cereal husbandry and disease identification (01285-652184).

&#8226 PERFORMANCE comes before price when farmers choose potato blight fungicides, says BASF. In its survey of nearly 300 growers over 70% put effectiveness ahead of cost when making their selections. Only 15% said price was the most important factor.

&#8226 EUROPEAN food industry customers will take all the edible linseed UK growers can produce, says Nickerson which is offering guaranteed Linola buy-back contracts at £180/t ex-farm. The company is looking for 100 farmers to sow at least 12ha (30 acres) each. "Unless we find more growers we will lose this export trade to the Canadians," says David Pearson. &#42

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18 January 2002

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&#8226 LATEST figures from the Welsh National Assembly reveal that the average value of land and buildings sold in the first quarter of 2001 was £2712/acre, significantly above the £2023/acre recorded during 2000.

&#8226 FPDSAVILLS has finally sold Lubstree Park Farm, near Telford, launched in May of last year. Agent Tony Morris-Eyton says contracts were exchanged in December.

The property, home to a successful soft fruit enterprise, failed to attract buyers with the working capital necessary to continue the venture and was relaunched in September as a residential and arable holding.

This grabbed the attention of a Cheshire farmer who came up with the £1.4m guide price and now plans to run the farm as an arable concern. &#42

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18 January 2002

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&#8226 BAYER has extensively modified the usage directions for its Monceren range of potato seed treatment products. In particular it stresses that top quality clean seed must be used and that tubers and sprouts/chits must not be damaged during handling. Furthermore, it now only supports the use of Fungazil 100 SL in conjunction with Monceren DS. There are no recommendations for the use of Monceren IM or Monceren Flowable with any other seed tuber treatment.

&#8226 SOYA UK has added a new information service to its web-site. Growers logging on to www.soya-uk.com can now ask technical questions and order further information on white lupins and soya. &#42

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11 January 2002

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&#8226 A COMPULSORY modulation rate should be introduced across the whole of Europe, delegates were told. German parliamentary state secretary Matthias Berninger said more money should be transferred from production subsidies towards the environment.

&#8226 THE era of "industrial farming" is over and should make way for organic systems, a debate at the conference was told. But the motion, this house believes 30% of agricultural land should be organic by 2010, was quashed.

&#8226 A FORMER farm leader from a county devastated by foot-and-mouth disease called for more help so marginal farms can recover. Alistair Wannop, past chairman of Cumbria NFU, said such farms occupied a significant area which must not remain unsupported.

&#8226 BRITISH farmers will be targeted by a north American wheat marketing group which hopes to market grain internationally. Farm Corp International aims to make a profit from marketing large quantities of grain and lobbying government. &#42

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21 December 2001

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&#8226 SOYA growers have an earlier, higher yielding variety to try this spring, says Hants-based Premium Crops. It is offering seed and commercial contracts on Gentleman, a new variety which out-yielded the current market leader by 10% in NIAB 2001 results.

&#8226 LATEST version of map-based recording software Farm Trac allows users to integrate financial costs alongside physical crop inputs. This transforms it from being a simple recording system to one providing valuable management information, says Farm Works Vince Dempsey. &#42

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21 December 2001

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&#8226 PRINCE Charles has urged agriculture students not to let recent setbacks in the industry put them off farming, according to The Guardian. The prince told students at Kingston Maurward College, near Dorchester, not to let BSE and foot-and-mouth disease deter them. "You are the future. Youve got to keep [farming] going," he said.

&#8226 SCRAPIE compensation payment will triple in the hope that more farmers will report suspected cases of the disease. The government believes low payments mean that under 20% of cases are actually reported. Payments will be increased from about £30/animal to £90, except in the case of cull females where a £30 rate will still apply &#42

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21 December 2001

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&#8226 BEEF market managers in Brussels have extended the Special Purchase Scheme for over-30-month animals by three months to the end of March. It is available in mainland Europe and Ireland to support the cull cow trade in particular.

&#8226 SUCKLER cow producers and beef heifer finishers will once again be the two beneficiaries from top-up payments from the "national envelope" in Northern Ireland.

The £7.5m available will be split equally between the two groups, providing an extra £7.70/head to the SCP and about £40/head on the beef heifer slaughter premium. &#42

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21 December 2001

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&#8226 FORAGE legumes can increase the profitability of livestock enterprises, according to the British Grassland Society and Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, who have organised a conference on the topic. The conference on Jan 30 at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, Glos, will feature the results of the four year LEGSIL project and the potential role of Lotus in UK animal production.

&#8226 WANT to know about research and experiences on robotic milking? The First North American Conference on Robotic Milking promises to offer plenty of both, with 42 presentations featuring specialists from 14 countries.The third day of the conference – Mar 20-22 in Toronto, Canada – will include visits to farms(001-877 424 1300, email rmilking@omafra.gov.on.ca). &#42

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14 December 2001

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&#8226 PLANS to amend the 1997 Hedgerow Protection Act are likely to be released early next year. In answer to a written parliamentary question, rural affairs secretary Margaret Beckett said the system was being reviewed in light of developments such as the Countryside Survey 2000 and the recommendations of a group looking at existing arrangements.

&#8226 THE Health and Safety Executive has produced an extended version of its video Back on the Farm, which explains how farmers can reduce injuries. Copies will be sent to over 250 agricultural and allied colleges but can also be bought from the HSE bookshop for £25 a copy (01787-881165).

&#8226 NFU Scotland is supporting a Scottish Countryside Alliance protest march in Edinburgh on Sunday (Dec 16). Union president Jim Walker said the March on the Mound was an opportunity for farmers and crofters to highlight areas where the government must act. Former Scotland rugby captain Rob Wainwright raised a March on the Mound standard outside the Scottish Parliament last week. &#42

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14 December 2001

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&#8226 UNITED Auctions Group, the Perth-based auctioneer, has submitted a planning application to build a new market in Stirling, next to its existing Kildean site.

UA plans to redevelop the old market site and build a new two-ring market with retail and support facilities to replace the old one.

&#8226 GRAINMAN, Glencores internet trading site, is offering a free bottle of champagne to anyone who sells more than 100t of cereals on-line before Christmas. The web-site is celebrating a successful year – more than 2000 farmers are now registered. To claim your bottle, log on to www.grainman.co.uk &#42

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7 December 2001

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uREADING Universitys Rural History Centre has been awarded £5.1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to allow it to move to a new location. The centre, which used to be called the Museum of English Rural Life will move from the universitys Whiteknights campus to St Andrews Hall in the town centre. The museum aims to show the history of food and farming within the overall rural economy.

uMEMBERS of the Second Hand Machinery Dealers Association dug deep to raise more than £1800 for the charity child Line at their annual dinner on Saturday (Dec 1). The event, which is only in its second year, was attended by over 120 people who came from all parts of the country to the venue in Cheltenham. The association was formed last year to give dealers a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues.

uSCRAPIE compensation for sheep slaughtered in December will be £28.95 if the disease is confirmed at post-mortem and a maximum of £400 for suspects where scrapie is not confirmed. BSE compensation for cattle slaughtered will be up to £561 if the disease is confirmed and a maximum of £701.25 where BSE is not confirmed. Compensation for cattle slaughtered with brucellosis will be a maximum of £567. &#42

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7 December 2001

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&#8226 A 25-acre block of unimproved Lincs land at Colsterworth, near Grantham, went under the hammer on Nov 21 with agent Shoulers for £1680/acre – just under the £43,000 guide price.

According to the firm, the buyer was a local businessman with farming interests who will probably farm the land himself with the possibility of integrating it into his other business in the future.

&#8226 JOINT agents Strutt & Parker and Webb Paton have sold Smithwick Farm, near Rowde, Wilts, to a non-farming buyer for close to the £1m guide price.

The 197-acre former dairy unit, brought to the market due to a family reorganisation, featured an eight-bedroomed farmhouse and a rental income of £24,000/annum from the converted dairy buildings.

&#8226 A "rare example" of traditionally managed Wilts grassland is for sale with Woolley and Wallis. Sutton Lane Meadows, Sutton Benger, near Chippenham, extends to 12 acres and is priced at £35,000.

Designated an SSSI and home to over 500 green winged orchids, the meadows are being sold for the first time since 1947 due to the retirement of farmer Graham Carter.

&#8226 MIDLANDS rural consultancy firm Berrys has merged with Cheshire-based agent A G Bowcock. The new firm will trade as Berrys.

The partnership already has offices in Northants, Salop and Notts and managing partner Paul Pridmore said the company has felt for some time that a base in the north-west would tie in well with its existing operations. &#42

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30 November 2001

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&#8226 BOCM Pauls has sold the last two units of its pig production business, which at its peak involved 60,000 sows, to breeding and genetics company Rattlerow Farms.

The purchases at Winch and Mundford in Norfolk means Rattlerow now operates a total of 14 independently owned pig units throughout the country.

&#8226 PROVIMI, the Rotterdam-based animal nutrition firm with annual sales in excess of £800m, has announced the merger of four of its UK-based sister companies to form Provimi Limited.

The move, which combines SCA Nutrition, NuTec, Norvite Feed Supplements and Top Number pet foods, will strengthen the firms position in the marketplace, says chairman Tony Drake.

CORRECTION

Cranswick plc has asked us to point out that the Cranswick feed mill mentioned as being closed in our article on ABFs profits (Nov 9) was known as Fishers Feeds of Cranswick. Cranswick Mill, part of the Cranswick plc group of companies, is totally separate and very much open for business. &#42

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30 November 2001

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uAN UNLIKELY catalogue of disasters left two Hungarian farmers dead and a third seriously injured when they attempted to slaughter a pig. The first man tried to electrocute the pig but instead managed to electrocute and kill himself, reported the web-site Ananova. The second was so shocked that he had a heart attack and died, while the third electrocuted himself trying to unplug the homemade pig stunner. Reports say that the pig remains alive and well.

uCOUNTRYSIDE campaigners in England are planning to charter planes from Stansted to Edinburgh to transport people up for a protest march about land reform and hunting. The protest – which is called "March on the Mound" and described as an event for freedom in the countryside – will take place on Dec 16. Organisers have invited everyone who had booked a coach for the cancelled Countryside March on London. &#42

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30 November 2001

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&#8226 USING rented land to expand a dairy business is sensible and economically viable, but tenants must negotiate hard to get the best terms for their business, warned George Dunn, chief executive of the Tenant Farmers Association. Special attention should be paid to agreements on milk quota purchases, tenancy terms, succession and rent reviews. "Avoid oral agreements, particularly within families and clarify intended rights and responsibilities between parties," he said.

&#8226 CO-ORDINATED, production-based research is needed to provide information about grazing-based dairy systems for the existing 300 UK farms using the system, said Deborah Topp, consultant with Pasture to Profit. "However, research should also aim to give confidence to other dairy farmers to investigate the option." She also urged the 1.2% of producers currently on a grazing-based system to actively promote the system to the industry, increasing understanding of what they are doing and removingthe myths. &#42

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30 November 2001

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&#8226 POTATO leaf sap tests, pinpointing changes induced by aphids, could be used to help avoid unnecessary insecticide sprays, work by ADAS and York University suggests.

&#8226 CONSUMERS of food are more concerned about price and convenience than in how it is produced or any environmental considerations, according to Food Standard Agency surveys.

&#8226 LEACHING resistant, phased release nutrients and important secondary elements like calcium, magnesium and sulphur are key features of Carrs Fertilisers latest environmentally protective New Choice range.

&#8226 EUROPES premier spraying event, Sprays & Sprayers 2002, featuring the latest innovations in equipment and application technology, will be on June 25 & 26, 2002, at Whittlesford, Cambs.

&#8226 MORLEY Research Centres 1600 members have given the thumbs up for its potential merger with NIAB. At their annual meeting, they voted to support detailed negotiations which could lead to a formal agreement next spring. &#42

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23 November 2001

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uJOB loss figures from farming for the twelve months ending Jun 2001 are unlikely to be made available until mid-Jan. The statistics are usually released before Christmas but DEFRA said they would be delayed because of complications to survey work caused by foot-and-mouth disease.

uMORE than 50% of the apples and pears sold in most supermarkets are imported, claims Friends of the Earth. Out of the eight big retailers, only Waitrose buys more fruit from home than abroad, it says. Safeway, which came bottom of the league table, rejected accusations that only 25% of its apples were British, claiming that one in three apples sold came from the UK.

uTHE Countryside Alliance has attacked government plans to hold hunts responsible for the activities of saboteurs. Hunting will resume in Dec in disease free counties but only under strict conditions. Hunts must prove that all hunters and followers, including saboteurs, comply with the rules. The alliance said it was concerned at the "bureaucratic conditions" attached to obtaining licences and accused DEFRA of leaving hunts at the mercy of people dedicated to disrupting them. &#42

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23 November 2001

Cool and dry OSR to combat mites

COOL and dry oilseed rape to keep mites out, warns CSLs Ken Wildey. Early reports of mites in store suggest surface layers have absorbed atmospheric moisture or seed was not dried low enough initially.

"The target moisture content for safe, long-term storage of oilseed rape is about 7.5%," he says,

Fire brigade chemical treatment Actellic (pirimiphos-methyl) has been withdrawn and Satisfar (etrimfos) is no longer sold, so growers should move seed to mix and re-dry surface layers, he says. Resistance to pesticide products is widespread in any case. &#42

IN BRIEF

&#8226 THE latest move in the voluntary stewardship programme to fend off the threat of a pesticide tax is a series of 37 spray operator workshops focusing on water pollution and farmyard activities. Organised by the Crop Protection Association and UKASTA and starting on Nov 27 at Ross-on-Wye, the countrywide half-day training events cost £25. Details from your local distributor.

&#8226 FRENCH manufacturer CDP Clartex is to take over SumiAgros slug pellet business including metaldehyde-based product Optimol. The move takes effect from Dec 1.

&#8226 SCOTTISH seed potato growers are losing over one-third of their market to farm-saved seed, says Alistair Redpath, chief executive of Perth-based Pseedco. "Some 35-40% of our available domestic market is being supplied by other than certified or classified seed." Growers believe they can do the job better or more cheaply, which is unlikely if work is costed properly, he says. &#42

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23 November 2001

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&#8226 THRAPSTON Livestock Markets first video sale of store cattle was held last week in the marts canteen. Keen bidding due to a shortage of good quality stores in the area meant a complete clearance with plenty of competition for cattle. Michael Bletsoe of auctioneer Henry &#42 Bletsoe & Son said prices were similar to last year. Top price went to eight blue-carded Limousin steers that made £555/head.

&#8226 HENLEY-IN-ARDEN Auction Sales annual Christmas turkey and goose sale with classes for live and dressed birds will be held at Warwick Road Market, Henley-In-Arden, on Dec 5. Entries will be judged by Stan Hems, president of Birmingham and District Butchers. Last years champion turkey sold for £625. &#42

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23 November 2001

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uWHAT is believed to be a record price for farmland at Heightington, near Bewdley in Worcestershire was achieved at auction when 8.17 acres went under the hammer for £39,500 (£4834/acre). A very dilapidated stone and brick cowshed and stockpen at Buckeridge, with residential planning consent for two small houses, made £171,000.

uLANDOWNERS whose assets include Lordship of the Manor should take advice with regard to the Land Registration Bill which will replace the Land Registration Act of 1925. There are potential problems where there are manorial rights over someone elses land, according to Smiths Gore. The Bill proposes that where rights are not registered within 10 years of the new Act coming into force, they will cease to be relevant.

uA "SMALL, tidy" dairy farm with 112 acres and over 318,000 litres of milk quota in Dyfed will be auctioned by Edward Perkins, Haverfordwest, on Dec 7. South Rogeston Farm at Portfield Gate includes a four-bedroom farmhouse and modern dairy parlour with a range of traditional and modern buildings. Auction guide is £300,000-£350,000. &#42

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16 November 2001

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uKEEP up with the latest strategies for feeding and managing cattle and sheep over winter by attending an SAC meeting or participating via a video link for remote areas. Meetings will take place in Scotland over the next few months. Further details are available from local SAC offices.

uNEW to maize growing or need more information on growing and feeding the crop? The first 100 producers to phone Grainseed Maize on (01379-871073) will obtain a free copy of the book, Maize – Producing and Feeding Maize Silage. Written by three of the UKs leading authorities on maize – Mike Wilkinson, Gordon Newman and David Allen – the book covers production, harvesting, ensiling, composition, feeding to dairy and beef cattle and maize for herd replacements.

uNOMINATIONS are invited for the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers Princess Royal Award. The award is made to recognise achievement of outstanding benefit to the UK dairy industry. Nominations must be made by Nov 30 (01926-887477). &#42

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16 November 2001

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uMILLIONS of ks from the EUs annual k90bn (£55bn) budget have gone missing, according to the annual Court of Auditors report. Despite efforts to tighten up on financial controls since the new EU commission took over two years ago, the track record for agriculture has not improved. Most errors are bureaucratic, rather than the result of fraud.

uEURO-MPs meeting in Strasbourg this week called for a radical overhaul of the live animal trade. In particular they are demanding a maximum eight-hour journey time to slaughter or a maximum distance of 500km, an end to export subsidies for live shipments and new aids for small slaughterhouses in isolated areas. Formal EU proposals are due next year.

uBRUSSELS has approved new rules for intensive pigs throughout the EU, to take effect from Jan 1, 2003. These include a minimum weaning age of four weeks, a maximum noise level of 85 decibels in pig houses and minimum lighting of 40 lux for eight hours/day. Fresh water must be constantly available and the worst forms of castration will be banned.

uIRISH farm leaders have been restrained by the High Court in Dublin from encouraging farmers to withhold sugar beet from Irish Sugar factories. The suspension of deliveries resulted in the closure of one factory last weekend. Former Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, has offered to mediate in the ongoing price dispute. &#42

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16 November 2001

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uA SOMERSET farm was praised by the Automobile Association in its accessible hotel of the year competition. Double-Gate Farm in Wells, run by Terry and Hilary Millard, was highly commended by the judges for its achievements in making its accommodation accessible to independent disabled travellers. The awards look at features such as bathroom design and quality of service.

uTHE Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust is inviting applications for awards for the year 2002. The scheme, which has been completed by many of the leading lights in the farm industry, offers individuals funding to allow them to complete an in-depth study in the UK or overseas. Candidates must be 25-40 years old and resident in the UK. For more details contact John Stones 01858-555544.

uMINISTERS are to implement measures to keep potato brown rot out of the UK. Imports of potatoes from Egypt will be banned from Nov 30 unless detailed requirements are met. Consignments will be inspected and tested for the disease. The measures follow the discovery of traces of infection in about 0.2% of the 27,500t of Egyptian potatoes imported into the UK during the 2000/01 season. &#42

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16 November 2001

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&#8226 SHREWSBURY-based agent Halls is selling 127 acres of accommodation land near Whitchurch, Shropshire, in four lots. Most of the land is IACS-registered and is being disposed of by farmer Charles Wilson, of Bradeley Green Farm, because it is surplus to requirements. The guide is set at £2500-£3000/acre.

&#8226 CHURCH Farm, Stoke Goldington, Bucks, has been sold by Bidwells. Offered in seven lots for £3.25m it was bought as a whole except for one cottage. A landowner from the nearby village of Salford, on the outskirts of Milton Keynes, is the buyer and, say local sources, the 900 acres will initially be cropped by a farmer from Sherington, less than five miles away.

&#8226 LAND belonging to Corus, formerly British Steel, is going under the hammer on Nov 21 through the Grantham office of Leics-based Shoulers. The 25 acres of Grade 3 IACS-registered land at Colsterworth is being guided at £1720/acre and is subject to a 27-year "clawback" clause. &#42

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9 November 2001

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&#8226 WITHDRAWAL periods for the antibiotic Synulox, used mainly for treatment of cattle and pig respiratory diseases, have been extended, according to a letter published in Vet Record.

When the drug, manufactured by Pfizer, is used in cattle and pigs destined for human consumption, the current withdrawal period of 14 days is being increased to 42 days from the last treatment for cattle and 31 days for pigs.This is due to use of new statistical methods for their calculation, explains Pfizer technical services director Tony Simon.

The withdrawal period for milk remains unaffected at 60 hours.

&#8226 A NEW sheep scanning protocol and contract work record form has been launched by the National Association of Agricultural Contractors to help scanners comply with DEFRA foot-and-mouth licensing requirements.

A copy of the protocol will be sent out with every new licence issued by DEFRA, or from the be NAAC (01733-362920). &#42

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9 November 2001

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uFARM-Africa has raised £10,000 in less than six weeks to buy 400 breeding goats for poor farmers in Africa. The goats will be used in a number of dairy goat improvement projects in Ethiopia and Kenya. Richard Turner, director of fundraising, said the response to their appeal had been magnificent considering the foot-and-mouth epidemic. Donations can still be sent to Give a Goat at Freepost, FARM-Africa, Lon 14108, London WC1A 2BR.

uTHE Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, the leading provider of on-farm conservation advice, is extending its services in Wales. The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has agreed to make funds available over the next three years to enable FWAG to develop a Welsh-based service. The need for FWAG in Wales was identified in a feasibility study last year. The service will be fully operational by early 2002.

uAN internal investigation is ongoing after the suspension of 18 civil servants who work for DEFRA. The staff, who had all worked on foot-and-mouth issues, were suspended from the departments office in Exeter pending a probe into expenses claims. A DEFRA spokesman said it was impossible to know how long the investigation would take, but it was unlikely to affect the running of the office. &#42

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IN brief

2 November 2001

IN brief

&#8226 INTRODUCING a breed of cow with naturally higher constituent milk can achieve a higher milk price on some buyers contracts. Jonathan Blake explains that Jerseys typically produce milk of 4.7% fat and 3.8% protein, compared with Holsteins at 3.7% fat and 3.2% protein.

&#8226 HIGH milk yields appear to dilute milk concentration. While higher milk yield/cow leads to higher total output in kg of fat and protein, this is at the expense of fat and protein %, says Jonathan Blake.

&#8226 GENETIC selection can influence milk constituents as both fat and protein % are heritable traits, says Jonathan Blake. When selecting sires for use on a herd it is possible to concentrate or dilute milk constituent percentages.

&#8226 PREDICTING changes in milk composition by altering diet ingredients is complex. But Jonathan Blake believes new computer feeding models in the Feed into Milk system, due for launch shortly, will improve the accuracy of these predictions. &#42

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2 November 2001

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uFATHER Christmas must find alternative transport this year – all reindeers have been grounded because of foot-and-mouth. DEFRA is banning the movement of the animals because they are cloven-hoofed and capable of carrying the disease. Britains only herd, at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre in Scotland, has cancelled its usual bookings for Santas Grottos.

uTWO pig farmers on BBC2s Ready Steady Cook programme promoted British pork. Mark and Diane Edwards from Lancashire, cooked head-to-head on an episode of the show on Monday (Oct 29). TV chefs Phil Vickery and Brian Turner used their pork and dry cure bacon to produce a range of tasty dishes in just 20 minutes.

uSCRAPIE compensation for sheep slaughtered in November will be £28.95 if the disease is confirmed at post-mortem and a maximum of £400 for suspects where scrapie is not confirmed. BSE compensation for cattle slaughtered in November will be up to £561 if the disease is confirmed at post-mortem and a maximum of £701.25 for suspects where BSE is not confirmed. &#42

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2 November 2001

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uBRUSSELS has cut next years planned spending by almost k2bn (£1.23bn), as the beef market improves and foot-and-mouth comes under control. This means the budget for 2002 is k4.4bn (£2.7bn) less than the maximum allowed under Agenda 2000, although budget commissioner, Michaele Schreyer, insists that savings cannot be diverted to other farm supports.

uITALY and Germany received the all-clear to grant state aids to some of their farmers who have suffered the side-effects of the BSE crisis. Those in the German area of Hessen will get 100% compensation for disposing of animal feed containing meat and bonemeal, and for BSE testing. Farmers in Lombardia will get heavily subsidised loans to help offset income losses.

uBSE does not appear to be reaching epidemic proportions in continental Europe, according to compulsory tests on over 30-month cattle destined for the food chain. Out of 4.15m tests between January and August this year, just 145 were BSE-positive. But BSE is much higher in tests of fallen stock and emergency slaughter animals. &#42

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2 November 2001

IN BRIEF

&#8226 NET blotch infection is soaring in some crops of Regina barley in the south-west and Pearl in Norfolk, reports Dalgety Arable. Fungicide should be applied if infection exceeds 40%, advises the firms Bob Bulmer. "Use one that does not contain carbendazim. This fungicide can actually encourage net blotch in the long-term." Most forward crops are less well developed than wheat but are growing rapidly, says ADAS. &#42

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2 November 2001

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&#8226 MANAGEMENT of PIC UKs pig recording schemes, Easicare and Pigtales, is to be taken over by computer software specialists, Agrosoft, developers of Winpig software. The consolidation of recording systems will allow creation of a central database capable of delivering up-to-date information to pig producers, says Agrosofts Stephen Hall.

&#8226 DETECTION of the BSE prion in brain stem material taken from animal carcasses is now possible, says Reading Scientific Services. The companys Ray Gibson says the test could be used on all carcasses entering the food chain to allay consumer fears about food safety.

&#8226 NITROGEN use on grassland has dropped by 25% compared with use in the mid-1980s, says the latest report of the British Survey of Fertiliser Practice. This is due to a reduction in area receiving nitrogen fertiliser and a drop in rates applied. Phosphate and potash rates in 2000 were also 15-20% lower than in the mid-1980s, adds the report.

&#8226 WANT to learn about animal homoeopathy? This winter a course is being run by vets and homoeopaths for interested producers. Dates are Nov 21 at Duchy Home Farm, Tetbury, Dec 12 at Abbey Home Farm, Cirencester and at the Royal Agricultural College on Jan 10. Further details of the course, which costs £150, from Chris Aukland (01342-822219). &#42

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26 October 2001

IN BRIEF

&#8226 FARMERS are playing Britney Spears CDs to scare off troublesome wild boars in Germany, reports the Daily Record. Farmer Herrmann-Josef Becker tried music because he was unable to shoot the animals which are a protected species. He said: "Madonna didnt work too well, Robbie Williams was a dead loss but they cant stand Britney Spears."

&#8226 A FARMER whose Countryside Stewardship Scheme claim form arrived at DEFRAs office in Bristol on Oct 3 had it returned with a letter saying his claim could not be accepted before Oct 1. The letter, dated Oct 15, asked him to resubmit his form. John Paget of Elm Farm, Burnett, Keynsham, said he had little confidence in the department.

&#8226 THE Advertising Standards Authority has rejected a complaint involving quota broker Ian Potter Associates. DCFM Quotas said an advert claiming Potter was "the only name" for quota was misleading. But the Advertising Standards Authority said the advert expressed an opinion about the level of service offered by the company. &#42

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26 October 2001

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&#8226 SCOTLANDS biggest farmer-owned meat and livestock marketing business, the ANM Group, has bought Dornoch abattoir in Sutherland to develop a lamb slaughtering business.

The slaughterhouse was modernised in the early 1990s but has been mothballed since the beef export ban was imposed on the UK in March 1996.

ANM has not been involved in large-scale lamb processing since it closed its Edinburgh abattoir in May 1998. It hopes to have the Dornoch plant, bought for an undisclosed sum, open early in the new year following the installation of a new lamb slaughter line.

"The challenge of running a profitable lamb slaughtering and processing facility will not be an easy one," said ANM chief executive Brian Pack. "But we believe the sheep industry is a fundamental activity for the future of Scottish agriculture."

Although Dornoch is a long way from the market for lamb, it is in the heart of lamb country, Mr Pack said. The aim, with support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Executive, is to develop the "Highland Lamb" brand.

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26 October 2001

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&#8226 THE closure of the St Merryn Meats abattoir in Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire, came as a blow to local farmers last week with the company blaming strict meat hygiene regulations and the foot-and-mouth crisis for its demise.

A spokesman for St Merryn said the site was being mothballed. However, he stressed Skellingthorpe was a unique case and the move would not affect the companys other abattoirs or its plans for further expansion. &#42

Up to its closure, the Skellingthorpe site had been killing up to 700 cattle each week.

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26 October 2001

IN BRIEF

&#8226 A WELL equipped west Wales dairy operation on the Carmarthen/Pembroke border is available from Cardigan agent J J Morris for £800,000.

Ffoswinau, Llanboidy, Whitland, is ring-fenced and features 258 acres of grass, a milking set up that can handle 220 cows and a four-bedroomed farmhouse.

&#8226 IN Somerset, a 280-acre stock farm on the slopes of the Mendip Hills is on the market with Dreweatt Neate.

Carscliffe Farm, Cheddar, includes a 5-bedroomed house and a useful range of buildings. About 20 acres are IACS-registered and the guide price is £790,000. &#42

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26 October 2001

IN BRIEF

uROTTING willow branches may be just as good at getting rid of pond algae as barley straw. The suggestion comes from the first three of a new series of free pond fact sheets based on 10 years research which are available from the Ponds Conservation Trust (01865-483249).

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26 October 2001

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uFREE innovative technology to subsistence farmers in the poorest parts of the world is a feature of Syngentas recently formed Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, which aims to help improve food security and quality, says the company. &#42

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26 October 2001

IN BRIEF

uDID you know Advanta Seeds "supports" nearly half the UKs premiership football clubs? That is because the pitches of Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and others are sown with Advanta amenity mixes MM25 and MM60. Murrayfield and Twickenham are made of the same – it is just cut longer. At £70 a bag and 25 bags a pitch for an overseed, that would make an expensive silage mix!

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26 October 2001

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uCOMPUTERISED farmers can move to digital mapping with new software for a cost comparable to paper maps, says Pear Technology. The firms PT-Mapper, allowing users to measure areas and distances accurately, split and join fields, and draw and measure headlands at the click of a button, can be downloaded and evaluated free for 14 days. Thereafter it costs £125 + VAT. (www.peartechnology.co.uk)

uONE of the most persistent pyrethroid insecticides against BYDV in cereals and flea beetle in oilseed rape is available from only one source this season. Cambs firm Interfarm UK says it is sole supplier of Alphaguard 100EC, based on alpha-cypermethrin, which offers quick knockdown and about six weeks protection.

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26 October 2001

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uKEMIRA Agricultures new web-site offers advice and interactive tools to help farmers make the best decisions on fertiliser policy. Visitors to www.kemira.co.uk will find comprehensive advice on all aspects of fertiliser use, ranging from the basics of plant growth to technical crop nutrition advice, including example farming systems and latest research findings.

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26 October 2001

IN BRIEF

uBE PREPARED for restricted spreading options when using urea, warns IMATS fertiliser specialist John Crowe after last spring saw an upsurge in problems linked to imports. Urea is lighter than ammonium nitrate and its quality varies depending on source, he notes. "Spreading urea should be confined to what I would term best spraying days in terms of wind conditions."

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19 October 2001

IN BRIEF

uTWO long-established buying groups, Oxfordshire Farm Group and Chesham Farmers, have merged to form the Orion Farming Group covering the home counties and Wilts. The new organisation, which will have 300 members and turnover above £20m, aims to remain faithful to the needs of farmers while reacting quickly to market changes. &#42

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19 October 2001

IN BRIEF

uLLOYDS TSB has launched the eighth and final instalment of its Helping You Achieve Success farm management series. The latest guide gives pointers on how to manage an existing farm business better using technical improvements and cost controls, as opposed to making wholesale structural changes. It also looks at downsizing. Contact 0117-943 3114.

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19 October 2001

IN BRIEF

&#8226 YEW Tree Farm, Laxfield, Suffolk, is on the market with Clarke & Simpson. The property includes a listed 5-bedroomed dwelling, an extensive range of traditional buildings and 195 acres of grade 2 arable land.

The residential element is being guided at £350,000, and the land is tagged at £500,000 (£2600/acre).

&#8226 A 310-acre Lincs arable holding is on offer from FPDSavills. Featuring a 3-bedroomed agriculturally tied dwelling College Farm, Swineshead, Boston, is available in two lots for £800,000.

The majority of the grade 1/2 land is IACS-registered and under drained and has been used for the production of root crops.

&#8226 WINSTON Churchills former country house is for sale. Lullenden Manor, near Lingfield, Surrey, features six bedrooms and a 3-bedroomed guest wing.

Including about 77 acres of paddocks and garden, London agent Knight Frank is hoping to attract £2.5m for the property. &#42

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12 October 2001

IN BRIEF

&#8226 TERROR weapons, including biological and chemical agents, could be smuggled into the UK in illegally imported meat, president of the British Veterinary Association, David Tyson has warned. Mr Tyson recommended a review of import controls to prevent terrorists exploiting what he regards as weak import controls.

&#8226 GENETICALLY modified crops are probably safer than conventional plants and foods, the EU Commission declared this week. Publishing the findings of some 81 Brussels-funded research projects, conducted by over 400 scientific teams throughout the EU over the past 15 years, the commission said it had failed to find any new risks to human health or the environment.

&#8226 THE chair of the Health and Safety Executive has described 53 deaths in agriculture last year as disgraceful and claimed it shows the industry is not doing enough to stop fatalities. Bill Callaghan made the damning remarks after a two-day fact-finding mission into agriculture which involved visiting farms to speak to farmers and their employees. "The sharp increase in deaths last year – from 44 to 53 – shows that the industry is simply not doing enough to prevent this tragic loss of life."

&#8226 AN agricultural lecturer who persuaded his students to use the Internet to complete coursework when F&M prevented them from leaving their homes has been awarded a £1000 prize and a decorative plaque for his ingenuity. John Whalley, who teaches at Bishop Burton College, East Yorks, was named eTutor of the Year in a competition sponsored by the Times Higher Education Supplement and the Learning and Teaching Support Network.

&#8226 FARMERS frustrated by licensing delays at North Yorkshire trading standards call centre have been urged not to be abusive towards staff after three operators walked out in protest. The centre has been deluged by nearly 2000 calls from farmers desperate to move animals trapped by F&M restrictions. Stewart Houston, the National Pig Associations producer group chairman, said some had been abusive and called for calm.

&#8226 A WEST Yorkshire farmer who was sentenced to six months in prison in 1999 for being cruel to his animals has been jailed again after breaking a lifetime ban on keeping livestock. David Holmes, 45, of Hen Holme Lane, Silsden, pleaded guilty at Bingley Magistrates Court of failing to comply with the ban and was sentenced to another five months imprisonment. &#42

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12 October 2001

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uTHE South of England Agricultural Society in conjunction with farmers weekly and HSBC are holding a free "Euro breakfast" at the South of England Centre, Ardingley, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, on Nov 6 at 8am. Speakers will include HSBC chief economist Dennis Turner; one pro-Euro farmer Stephen Carr; and one anti-Euro farmer Charlie Flint. For ticket information contact Mrs E Cuff on 01444-892700.

uNATWEST has postponed its next "Gearing Up for Change" business seminar to be held at Newton Rigg Agricultural College on Oct 15, because of foot-and-mouth and on-going concerns over bio-security in the region. The new date, expected to be early next year, will be arranged shortly. The other seminars are going ahead as planned. &#42

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12 October 2001

IN BRIEF

&#8226 A NEW formulation of methylated seed oil adjuvant for cereal herbicides is said to give extra grass weed control when used in place of a standard oil of the same type.

Drill, from Loveland Industries, includes more surfactants and emulsifiers than current standard products to help wet small, hard-to-hit grass leaves and penetrate their waxy surfaces in cold conditions, explains the firms David Foster. &#42

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12 October 2001

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&#8226 HEAVY saturated soils are frustrating potato lifting in the south-east and East Anglia. But overall progress, despite heavy weekend rain in places, is certainly better than last season at the same time, says BPCs Rob Burrow. Before last weekend 36% of the UK crop was cleared against 29% in 2000, he estimates.

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12 October 2001

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&#8226 BIRCH Hall Farm, Ellesmere, Salop, which goes under the hammer with Wright Manley on Oct 16, features 158 acres of IACS-registered land and extends in total to 231 acres, not as previously stated.

&#8226 INTEREST from a neighbour helped push up the price for 185 acres of Lincs arable and pastureland at Harmston, near Lincoln.

Auctioned by Perkins, George Mawer & Co, the parcel, part of Barn Farm, made £600,000 (£3243/acre), against a pre-auction guide of £450,000. About 158 acres were IACS-registered. &#42

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12 October 2001

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&#8226 NEW precautions to keep potato ring rot out of the country come into force next Monday, after which importers of potatoes from Germany must notify the relevant UK authorities in writing at least two days before produce arrives.

DEFRA says the requirement will allow it monitor the trade and target inspection to guard against introducing the highly contagious disease which can cause severe economic loss.

The move comes after bacterial ring rot (Clavibacter michiganensis) was found in German consignments earlier this year.

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5 October 2001

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uKNOWING how your potato cyst nematode population is split between Globodera pallida and G rostochiensis is vital to optimise control measures, including variety choice. Now a new test offered by NIAB can differentiate between the two species with greater accuracy than before. Cost is £27 per soil sample, £7 cheaper than before, with results available in 72 hours.

uSOIL structure and its management are the focus of two new free DEFRA-funded guides from the National Soil Resources Institute at Cranfield University and the Soil Management Initiative. They explain how to identify soil structure and the role of cultivations in maintaining and improving them. Yield is often driven by poor structure at 20-23cm depth, rather than top-soil issues, says NSRI scientist Ian Bradley. Contact 01525-863259. &#42

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28 September 2001

IN BRIEF

&#8226 THE current build up of military tension over the terror attacks in the US could have serious consequences for most GPS equipment used world-wide. The scrambling systems of positioning signals from US satellites which was turned off 18 months ago could be turned back on to help conceal the position of US troops. That would alter the accuracy of hand-held GPS units and standard satellite navigation equipment from 5-10m to around 100m making them useless for agricultural work.

&#8226 A TOTAL of £21.8m will be split between 700 pig farmers to help them restructure their businesses under the pig ongoers scheme. About 99% of the 712 applications to the ongoers element of the Pig Industry Restructuring Scheme were successful. This comes on top of the £15.6m allocated under the outgoers element. But the National Pig Association expressed disappointed that no more money will be made available under the scheme.

&#8226 DEFRA is on the lookout for a new member for the Lake District National Park Authority to help take responsibility for conservation, recreation, planning, access and resource issues. Candidates are welcome from any background must be able to commit a minimum time input of 2-6 days per month. Applications are available from Rachel Sayers (DEFRA) on 0117 372 8234.

&#8226 DURHAM and Darlington Health Authority is considering asking vets to monitor stressed farmers as part of an initiative to tackle mental illness and the high rate of suicides in rural areas.

In a report to the authority, health strategist Ceri Mathers says she believes that farmers – especially those affected by foot-and-mouth – could be vulnerable to mental health problems. &#42

and suggests that vets "may well have a role" in identifying those who may need help.

A FASHION designer has produced a collection which she claims was inspired by the recent crisis in the rural community. British designer Tracey Boyd showcased her collection, which has been sponsored by Jordans Cereals, at London Fashion Week (Sept 17-23) reports web-site Ananova. "The collection reflects my concern at the crisis in rural life over the past few months," she said

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28 September 2001

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&#8226 THE Countryside Agency has launched a web-site that aims to remind people about the links between the food they buy and the countryside they love. The site (www.eat-the-view.org.uk) explains how the way something is produced is important, plus how and where to buy local foods. Liz Newton, project director at the Countryside Agency, said the site would help improve the market for regional produce.

&#8226 NORTHERN Ireland has been awarded almost k44m (£27m) to spend on rural development over the next six years under the EUs LEADER+ programme. The money will be spent on a number of initiatives, including the use of new technologies in rural areas and projects to add value to local foods. The focus will be on job creation and helping farming families. About one-third of the funding is coming from Brussels, one-third from the government and the rest from the private sector.

&#8226 A GROUP of Chinese restaurants in Newcastle is believed to have been awarded £20,000 as compensation for stories suggesting they were the source of the foot-and-mouth outbreak. According to a report in the Daily Mail, the money has been paid through a regeneration fund called One North East. This is backed by the governments rural regeneration fund, set up to compensate those who had suffered due to the crisis. The payment is understood to be the first for damage to reputation under the governments F&M compensation scheme. &#42

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28 September 2001

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&#8226 KVN Stockdale is to run a series of digital picture auctions for Bodmin Moor Farmers Club between October and December.

About 3000 suckled calves from Bodmin Moor will be sold through the auctions, which will be at Hallworthy Stockyard starting on Oct 10. Even though many auctions have used video technology to sell stock this autumn, the BMFC felt it was too costly to use professionals, and DIY videos would not be of sufficient quality.

&#8226 West Country auctioneer Greenslade Taylor Hunt has rearranged an on-farm sale of 140 Holstein Friesians for the Meaker family at Shride Farm, Othery, Somerset, on Friday (Oct 5). This is seemingly contrary to DEFRAs recent ruling to ban all farm sales. But the auctioneer obtained clearance for the sale on welfare grounds and by adopting stringent biosecurity measures. Catalogues are available from the auctioneer (01823-334466). &#42

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28 September 2001

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&#8226 A PARCEL of land featured in Constables painting The Valley of the Stour is on offer through Suffolk firm Fenn Wright.

Post Office Meadow, near Stratford St Mary in the Dedham Vale, extends to 11 acres and is guided at £65,000. According to local reports the vendor is the 1970s comedian and folk singer Richard Digance. The firm, however, would not comment.

&#8226 LEICS-based Shouler & Son reports the auction of 173 acres of Lincs land for close to the guide price earlier this month.

The mix of grade 3 arable land and woodland, near Sedgebrook, Grantham, made £330,000 against a guide of £350,000. Agent Martin Shouler reckons this values the woods at £1200/acre and the soil at £2000/acre. &#42

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21 September 2001

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&#8226 THREE farmers who went along to the opening of a footpath by the Prime Minister in his constituency were granted a surprise 40 minute meeting at his home. Andrew Thompson and Bill Chrystal from Wingate and Phillip Young from Sedgefield, were invited to a meeting after they agreed not to ask questions during the event. The farmers reported that Mr Blair was well briefed and listened to their points and concerns.

&#8226 MILK consumption at a school in Cheshire has risen from six to 200 glasses a day after the opening of a milk bar by First Milk. The company has already opened a hundred milk bars in schools in Scotland but the one at Sandbach School is the first in England and Wales. Roger Evans, deputy chairman of First Milk said the milk bars presented an up-to-date image to enable milk to compete with other soft drinks. Consumption in Scotland is 25% higher than the rest of Britain.

&#8226 OVER a hundred farmers have applied to join Cornwall Quality Livestock after learning that members are eligible for a 50% grant for the purchase of livestock trailers. Speaking at the Royal Cornwall Show, CQLs marketing manager Clare Parnell said applications had increased since grants had been offered for the purchase of performance-recorded rams and bulls, handling and weighing equipment, and for computers and software to help management. &#42

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21 September 2001

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&#8226 ONLY 20% of the lamb fed to troops stationed in the UK is British, defence minister Dr Lewis Moonie has admitted in a letter to Lib Dem MP Paul Tyler. Mr Tyler described the situation as a "scandalous betrayal of both service personnel and farmers". He said arrangements must be altered drastically to give priority to health and safety and to recognise the consequences to British farming of double standards.

&#8226 THE British Wool Marketing Board is asking for nominations for a county representative on one of its nine regional committees from Jan 1, 2002. Candidates must be under 65 on Jan 1, 2002, registered as a wool producer and be nominated by 10 other registered producers in the area. Details from BWMB, Wool House, Roydsdale Way, Euroway Trading Estate, Bradford.

&#8226 STAFFORDSHIRE Police will now be able to attend courses on driving farm vehicles, animal handling, and preventing poaching and sheep worrying as the force bids to improve rural policing. Demand for the courses, has been encouragingly high, organisers say. &#42

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21 September 2001

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&#8226 WEST Country property consultant Symonds & Sampson held its third video auction of dairy stock last week, with trade levelling at £570. The sale of 233 cattle was due to be held on farm at Rempstone Farms at Corfe Castle, but the venue had to be switched to Sturminster Newton because of the new regulations banning on-farm sales. A top price of £900 was reached with cattle selling to 27 buyers. The auctioneer reckons that with tighter movement restrictions it will use video auctions throughout the winter.

&#8226 AUCTIONEER Bagshaws is arranging a series of digital sales at Uttoxeter and Bakewell markets to replace live animal sales. The stock will be inspected and sorted by auctioneers and the pictures will be displayed in the sale ring as well as in a catalogue. Entry forms and catalogues are available from the auctioneer.

&#8226 ABERDEEN and Northern Marts annual September spectacular at the Thainstone Centre, Inverurie, was hailed a success by its organisers. ANM now hopes to have both a show and sale for its Christmas classic fatstock show in December if biosecurity restrictions have relaxed enough. This time judges placed cattle in their classes based on video clips before the audience had a chance to vote for a steer and heifer champion. Top price went to the overall and heifer champion, an 11-month-old Limousin x Blonde dAquitaine which sold for £1300. She was owned by John and Marlene Pirie of Chapel Park, Kingussie. &#42

&#8226 SEDBERGH auction mart has been given the go-ahead to start a collection centre from Sep 20. Prime stock, light lambs and cull sheep will be brought together on Thursdays and over-30-month cattle on Wednesdays. All stock must be booked in and licensed to move. &#42

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14 September 2001

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&#8226 THIEVES who break into Brooksby Agricultural College, Leics, may find themselves in for a short, sharp shock. The college has planted spiky shrubs across access points, walls and fences following a spate of vehicle crime and break-ins.

&#8226 PLANS to make the Welsh Winter Fair a two-day event, following cancellation of the Royal Welsh Show, have been scrapped and no cloven hoofed animals will be exhibited. Organisers hope that farmers will still attend to talk to breed societies, advisory agencies and commercial companies. The poultry and Christmas craft shows will go ahead as usual.

&#8226 THE Army has agreed to move a military exercise planned for the end of October in Wales to an area outside the principality. This follows pressure from farming organisations, which described the decision to hold manoeuvres in foot-and-mouth free areas as insensitive and indefensible because it could spread the disease to other counties.

&#8226 SCOTLANDS AgriScot event will take place on Nov 29, 2001 and not as previously printed. The show, which is being developed as a replacement for DairyScot, hopes to attract 200 trade stands and have business seminars featuring leading industry personalities. It will take place at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Edinburgh.

&#8226 THE Womens Food and Farming Union have requested a public apology from Tesco about questions in its National Farming Survey. The WFU says many of the questions are ambiguous and confusing and imply that conventional food is unsafe. "Everyone is concerned about food safety, animal welfare and the environment…but they are not necessarily worried about them," said a spokeswoman. &#42

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14 September 2001

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&#8226 THE National Primestock Show which was scheduled for Nov 18 – 19 has been cancelled because of foot-and-mouth disease.

uUNITED Auctions annual October beef week, set for Oct 22-Oct 25, is unlikely to take place, says the auctioneer. F&M restrictions are to blame, because despite market sales being permitted in Scotland, restrictions rule out a four-day event. &#42

David Leggat, the companys marketing director, said: "The October bull sales are an important landmark in the beef breeding year and we would want to ensure that consignors and purchasers have some means of trading available to them."

Last year more than 1000 pedigree beef cattle were sold during the beef week.

ABERDEEN and Northern Marts first sale at Caithness Livestock Centre last week for more than six months was greeted with a strong trade. In total, 397 steers sold to a top price of £690 for a Belgian Blue cross bullock from A&W Campbell of Thurso. Of the 261 heifers that sold, the largest bid of £565 went to a Charolais cross beast from J S Polson of Bower in the Scottish Borders.

AUCTIONEER Wallets Marts Castle Douglas continued its digital picture breeding sheep sales last week with a Blackface ewe lamb sale on Friday, Sept 7. Trade was buoyant with the top price pen from Messrs Worrell, Duchrae and Dalry selling for £56. Overall, despite fewer sheep forward trade levelled at £34.69, up £6.20 on the year.

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14 September 2001

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THE Dairy Show at the Bath and West Showground in Somerset promises to offer milk producers a busy programme of technical seminars.

Seminar topics include avoiding tax on precious profits, business expansion post foot-and-mouth, dairying in 10 years time and three sessions on cow feeding. These sessions are sponsored by NatWest and Dairy Crest.

Tickets for the show on Oct 3 cost £5 at the gate, which opens at 10am.

VISITORS to this years Dairy Event can also attend the Dairy Industry Show, held at the NACs Warwick Conference Centre on Tue, Sept 18 and Wed, Sept 19.

Organised by the National Dairymens Association, the show will combine a programme of seminars with exhibits of goods and services for the milk industry.

"The two events bring together practical dairy farming and milk retailing," says event director Robert Clarke.

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7 September 2001

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&#8226 GROWERS interested in organic production and farm retailing are invited to a series of after-noon/evening farm walks in East Anglia on the following: Organic vegetable transplants (Sep 13), on-farm organic processing (Sep 20), direct and local retail sale of beef, lamb, pork and poultry (Oct 4), free-range organic egg production (Oct 25). Organised by East Anglia Food Link, each costs £10 or £5 to EAFL members or producers in Objective 5b areas. Contact EAFL on 01953 889200 or email eafl@gn.apc.org

&#8226 MANAGEMENT of new winter wheat Xi19 will need to be fine-tuned to balance its extremely high yield with potential Group 1 milling quality, says breeder Avanta. Results from one of its largest development trials programmes, over 21 sites, to help growers do that will be made available through regular mailings and via the web-site www.xi19.com

&#8226 GOT an idea for an industrial crop use but cant get it off the ground for technical barriers? The LINK programme on Competitive Industrial Materials from Non-Food Crops (CIMNFC) has been extended to May 2002. Closing date for initial applications for collaborative research is Sept 19, 2001. &#42

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7 September 2001

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&#8226 OVER 80% of visitors to the Royal Agricultural Society of Englands Town and Country Festival this year thought farmers do a good job of looking after the countryside, according to a survey. Four out of five people who responded to the poll also said they thought British food was best.

&#8226 FOOT-AND-MOUTH disease has increased the membership of the Dumfries and Galloway region of NFU Scotland by more than 60 members. Regional board chairman Wuffy McIntyre said the surge in membership was a fitting tribute to the efforts of all union representatives, staff and members. "It is the profile and workload taken on by many in the region that has impressed so many of our fellow farmers."

&#8226 A SUFFOLK farm is being sold to a charitable trust which intends to turn the 80ha (200 acres) into a conservation and angling park. David and Hazel Prutton, of Emmerdale Farm, Darsham, are retiring and selling the holding, including the farmhouse and buildings, to the trustees of a project called Sleepy Hollow. &#42

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7 September 2001

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&#8226 SIX of the nine new winter barleys recently accepted for Recom-mended List trials have BaYMV resistance. They include New Farm Crops six-row variety Sequel, which is said to have grain quality at least as good as most two-rows.

Other newcomers with BaYMV resistance include a coded variety and Kestrel from Advanta, Parasol from PBIC Monsanto, Saaten-Unions Clara and another coded variety from Nickerson.

&#8226 UNTREATED farm-saved seed or that given the wrong treatment is being blamed for a rise in the incidence of loose smut in Scotland.

NIAB recommends that home-saved seed should be tested and treated if loose smut is found.

Treatment with Raxil S (tebuconazole + triazoxide) costs only £7/ha (£2.80/acre) based on a seed rate of 150kg/ha, says Bayers Sean McGill. "This will stop loose smut going out of control." &#42

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7 September 2001

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&#8226 LODGE & Thomas reports the successful sale of two Cornish farms for close to the asking prices. Treveague, near St Austell, a 123-acre coastal farm was guided at £375,000 and went to non-farmers from Bristol, while 145-acre Derval Farm, Newbridge, was snapped up by a local farmer for around £450,000.

&#8226 THE home of the Dartington Cattle Breeding Trust is for sale through Luscombe Maye Hands Hughes. Although Venton stud, near Tigley, south Devon, is being offered in eight lots, the guide for the whole 87-acre property is £500,000-600,000. Two lots include three-bedroomed bungalows. The rest contain land and buildings.

&#8226 A TRADITIONALLY farmed mixed Borders unit is on the market with McCoshim & Co. Berrybank Farm, Reston, Berwickshire, inc-ludes 442 acres of fertile arable land, a 1m gallon reservoir, 1200t of grain storage and accommodation for 500 cattle. Five dwellings are also featured and offers in excess of £1.32m are invited. &#42

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7 September 2001

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&#8226 BORDER Leicester Sheep Breeders Society will hold a video ram sale at Lanark market on Sept 26. The sale will precede the annual meeting being held at the Cartland Bridge Hotel. Sale registers are available from from any auction mart that normally hosts Border Leicester sales. The BLSB sale in Northern Ireland will take place at Ballyclare on Sept 13.

&#8226 SHEEP breeders and buyers interested in Border Leicester or Scotch Halfbred sheep can visit two new web-sites for information about the breeds and forthcoming events (www.borderleicesters. co.uk and www.halfbred.co.uk).

&#8226 MOLE Livestock Initiative says it has a growing market for well reared Friesian or Continental cross bull calves, 12-16 weeks old. But there is little demand for beef cross heifers and British breeds are also difficult to place. (0845-601 3281 or molelivestock@molevalleyfarmers.com).

&#8226 MOST collection centres are up and running now with 80 approved throughout England and Wales. A few more might come on line to handle over-30-month stock, says an MLC spokesman. Regular collections are taking place, although stock numbers have dropped recently. Full details can be found at www.mlc.org.uk

&#8226 FOOT-AND-MOUTH has taken its toll on the Belgian Blue cattle society with 28 herds countrywide lost during the past eight months. The Borders Club has been particularly hard hit, losing 15 out of 32 herds – 50% of its membership – said the BBCSs executive chairman Gill Evans at its annual meeting.

However, in the past 15 months, the society has added another 48 members, and new birth registrations are up by nearly 100. &#42

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31 August 2001

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uGERMAN police are threatening legal action after a cow pat on the road resulted in two motorcyclists sustaining serious injuries, reported the web-site Ananova. Officers have warned they could charge the cows owner with negligence because the muck should have been cleared up. Local farming groups described the decision to pursue the case as ridiculous.

uFARM-Africa launched a "Give a goat" appeal to help improve stock in East and South Africa. UK-bred Toggenburg and Anglo Nubian goats boosted milk yields by as much as 12-fold when crossed with herds in Ethiopia and Kenya. The charity now has a list of 1000 requests for more pure-bred animals. Donations towards the cost of each £27 animal can be sent in an envelope marked simply "Freepost FARM-Africa".

uSCRAPIE compensation for sheep slaughtered in September will be £28.95 if the disease is confirmed at post-mortem and a maximum of £400 for suspects where scrapie is not confirmed. BSE compensation for cattle will be up to £561 if the disease is confirmed at post-mortem and a maximum of £701.25 for suspects where BSE is not confirmed. Rates have stayed at April levels because foot-and-mouth has prevented an indicative market price from being calculated.

uBRITAINS most notorious vice queen, Lindi St Clair, is on the look out for a farmer. The former Miss Whiplash has told the Daily Mail that she has been advertising for a farmer to be her next partner. The advert reads: "Buxom lady offers intimate relations with farmer who has lake." The lake is apparently needed for the 100 ducks and five geese she has raised on her smallholding in Risbury, Herefordshire. &#42

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24 August 2001

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&#8226 PART of its series entitled Helping You Achieve Success, Lloyds TSB Agriculture has published a guide on investing in and managing a new farm business. It is aimed at two types of newcomers to farmland: those who have surplus cash or assets and are looking to purchase, and those who are looking to take their first (or next) step on the farming ladder without investing in land.

"We hope it will show how new money and new blood can work together for the benefit of all involved," says Tim Porter, head of agriculture at Lloyds TSB.

Available free from local business managers or email (agriculture@lloydstsb.co.uk).

&#8226 ONE of the smaller organic farms among the clutch to come to the market this market has found a buyer.

Balsdon Farm, with 109 acres near Inkpen, Berks and a house with an agricultural tie, is under offer to a local purchaser new to farming.

Agent Strutt & Parker is "hopeful" the unit, valued at £750,000, will remain organic.

Considerable interest was shown in the IACS-registered pasture farm, but not principally for its organic status, says the firm.

A huge mail-out to certified organic farmers resulted in a poor response. &#42

&#8226 IACS-eligible arable land at Harbury, Warks was auctioned by Howkins & Harrison to average £2785/acre. The larger parcel, at 78.8 acres, went for £200,000; the remaining 14.47 acres for £59,000 (over £4000/acre). Both were bought be neighbouring farmers.

"Both were bought by farming buyers, but, unusually, with farming money," said auctioneer Tim Ball. "Most of the land we have sold in the past 12 months has been to farmers, but with non-farming money."

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24 August 2001

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uPRODUCER processors avoided paying a milk super-levy by leasing in a massive 70m litres of quota last milk year. The Intervention Board has released provisional figures for 2000/01, confirming that both direct sellers and wholesale producers were below quota. It is the first time since 1989/90 that no super-levy at all has been charged. Temporary transfers of quota resulted in a net gain of 70m for direct sale quota, and the sector ended 20m litres below profile. Wholesale production finished 263m litres below quota. &#42

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24 August 2001

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uSUGAR beet pulp is expected to be in short supply this year, and traders are tipping citrus pulp as the bargain replacement. First prices from Banks Cargill put sugar beet pellets £13/t above last season, at £88-90/t delivered for Aug/Sept, rising to £95/t for April. Citrus pulp is discounted by £5-6/t in August, widening to £15-17/t by April, a significant saving over sugar beet, despite its lower protein content, claims the companys straights trader Hugh Shedden. "Buying citrus this year will save the farmer money without harming milk yield," he says.

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24 August 2001

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&#8226 THE National Sheep Assoc-iations Wales and border region ram sale committees ram register has amassed 12,000 sheep from regular vendors of 31 different breeds. Jane Smith, secretary of the border ram sale, says inquiries are forthcoming, with hill farmers looking for tups much earlier than usual. (01291- 673939 or www.nsaramsale.co.uk).

&#8226 BILL Quick & Sons, breeders of pedigree Limousin and Blonde dAquitaine cattle and Rouge de LOuest and Texel sheep, will hold the first livestock sale in Devon for some time on its North Tawton farm on Sept 6. About 75 shearling Texel tups and 20 females will be on offer, along with 15 Rouge rams.

&#8226 ONE of the largest herd dispersal sales this year is taking place in Wilts following a farm sale. Up to 700 British Friesian cows, consisting of three herds of 150 cows, 100 in-calf heifers and 120 (10-12 month) heifers and calves, are on offer. Contact Trevor Rowland of Dreweatt Neate (01249-445599). &#42

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24 August 2001

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&#8226 APPLICATIONS are being sought for the Potato Export Award 2001 sponsored by Food From Britain, HSBC and the British Potato Council. Exporters of processed, seed and ware potatoes are eligible. The awards provide recognition for a successful export strategy, international sales and industry best practice, says BPC export manager Cliona Cassidy. Three short-listed companies will receive a travel voucher from the BPC and the winner will be announced in December. Details from FFB or BPC.

&#8226 WINNER of the Royal Northern Agricultural Societys annual cereal growing competition is Jim Mair of Old Inn Farm, Colpy, Insch. His field of Optic spring barley beat 93 crops from 43 farmers to take top honours in the contest sponsored by Caledonian Seeds and contractor DM Carnegie of Laurencekirk. Mr Mair paid tribute to consultant Bryan Chalmers of Allathan Associates, Turriff who looks after agronomy and local contractor Alan Sutherland. Runner-up was Ian Davidson, Mosside, Oldmeldrum. &#42

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24 August 2001

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&#8226 THE MDC is asking dairy producers to contact the organisation, within the next two months, with ideas for research priorities for the coming year. Whatever current problems and issues are earmarked, such as market returns, fertility or bureaucracy, MDC research will aim to find solutions (01285-646500 or www.mdc.org.uk). &#42

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17 August 2001

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uMONITOR milk protein on a weekly basis to indicate how well you are feeding cows, says Teagasc dairy adviser Dermot McCarthy. At this time of year, protein can be depressed by grazing poor quality grass, grazing cows too tight or a shortage of grass, he warns in Tegascs Todays Farm. He suggests comparing figures with last year and discussing ways to improve milk protein at group meetings. &#42

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17 August 2001

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