Archive Article: 1998/03/27 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 1998/03/27

27 March 1998

CORRECTION

GREMLINS crept in on Budget night last week. Grant Thorntons phone number should have read 01993-771121, not as printed. Apologies for any confusion. &#42

CORRECTION

GREMLINS crept in on Budget night last week. Grant Thorntons phone number should have read 01993-771121, not as printed. Apologies for any confusion. &#42

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Archive Article: 1998/03/27

27 March 1998

Leonard Morris

Leonard Morris is tenant at

206ha (510-acre) White

House Farm, South Kyme

Fen, Lincoln. His heavy land

grows winter wheat and

oilseed rape and spring

peas and linseed. Lighter

ground is cropped with

potatoes, spring rape and

linseed

AT THE beginning of the month we collected an Australian agricultural trainee who has been placed with us through the International Agricultural Exchange Association.

He comes from an 800ha (2000-acre) rice, wheat and sheep farm on the New South Wales/Victoria border, approximately three hours north of Melbourne. He should experience a different type of farming while he is here.

We did not get the snow at the beginning of the month, but we did get 23mm (1in) of rain over three days making 40mm (1.6in) for the month. The water authority is already announcing drought conditions in the area for the coming year.

However, on our land it has delayed work yet again. We finally managed to get the light land ploughed ready for spring crops using the Opico square plough, which is light enough to carry over the worst of the wet holes.

On the heavier land we have managed to apply the first of the nitrogen to the oilseed rape – 250kg/ha (2cwt/acre) of 34.5%N.

But chickweed kill in the oilseed rape from pre-emergence Butisan S (metazachlor) is poor. One field is growing away fast enough to smother the weed, but the second has had to be sprayed with Galtak (benazolin) at 1 litre/ha.

That means I can not spray some patches of blackgrass for two weeks. The forward crop has already been sprayed with 0.75 litre/ha Laser (cycloxydim) and 1 litre/ha of Cropoil for cereal volunteers and blackgrass.

The last of the wheat has now been sprayed with 0.125 litre/ha of Topik (clodinafop-propargyl) and 1 litre/ha of Cropoil. The Amazon (clodinafop-propargyl + dff), Auger (ipu), Cropoil mix used earlier on some wheat seems to be taking effect at last and I can now see where the tramlines are.

Our forward wheats are at GS30 and look well, so at the time of writing they have still not had any nitrogen. However, it is possible to find signs of yellow rust in the Consort and Riband which will have to be dealt with shortly. &#42

Wet weather earlier this month hindered progress for Lincs farmer Leonard Morris. But spring rape ground is now ploughed and winter rape has had its first N. Grass weeds in wheat have finally been subdued.

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Archive Article: 1998/03/27

27 March 1998

AUCTIONEERS

COMMENT

MARKET

Maidstone

AUCTIONEER

Alan Mummery

(Lambert &Foster)

AUCTIONEERS

COMMENT

MARKET

Maidstone

AUCTIONEER

Alan Mummery

(Lambert &Foster)

NEW season lambs look set to hit the market in bigger numbers earlier this year than usual, according to Alan Mummery.

Farmers, who traditionally sold them as stores in the summer and autumn, may rush to get them finished early, worried there wont be the demand for stores there was last season.

"And store buyers will be more cautious, having had their fingers burnt. Some animals sourced at last summers auctions for record prices of £40-plus are now being slaughtered for less than £35.

"There have been a lot of casualties this year – people may not be prepared to gamble on lamb again."

Lamb breeders may, therefore, choose to take advantage of the relatively-lower creep feed costs and push stock on fast, says Mr Mummery.

"People are concerned enough about farm profitability. Its been a terrible fruit season, hops are diabolical and beef remains awful. If they can see the opportunity of getting £40/head for finished lambs in June, theyll probably take it."

Demand for stores later in the season could also be down, with people less prepared to fold sheep in the winter after this years experiences. At Maidstone, as elsewhere, dirty fleeces have been a problem.

"We have offered a cleaning service at 30p a head which, although potentially making an unsaleable sheep saleable, represents another cost to the farmer," says Mr Mummery.

The first sign of the drive to market stock earlier was seen last autumn, in the form of big interest for the best breeding sheep. Rams with high breeding indexes were sought after. "A ram shows its true colours in the early lamb market, throwing strong, fast-growing offspring."

One of the few factors slowing the rapid progress of lambs is the high incidence of doubles, rather than singles, says Mr Mummery. "Two dont get fit as fast as one, after all."

The first new season went through Maidstone in mid-February, chiefly the early producers further east in the county who, following the closure of Canterbury mart, looked for a different outlet.

"Numbers will now build up quickly and when there are sufficient lambs available, buyers turn their backs on hoggets."

Interest in them, meanwhile, will snowball, as demand spreads from the butchers and specialists to the bigger retailers. Buyers will be looking for a "true milk lamb", rather than something that is weaned and has been fed. Level of finish is the key to good prices. "At Easter time, 40kg may be the ideal weight – but dont keep lambs on to 40kg if they are fit at 38kg.

"Buyers also want farm-assured stock – so the cost of becoming assured is soon recouped in sale values," reckons Mr Mummery.

New season lamb numbers will build quickly, says Alan Mummery.

Farmers worried about lack of store demand may look to finish lambs early and take the cash. Buyers are beginning to show interest.

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Archive Article: 1998/03/27

27 March 1998

A SUITABLE COSH&#42 assessment is essential to ensure you have safeguarded anyone who may be exposed to a pesticide – be it the operator, the public or anyone else, says John Bouckley, a principal inspector with the HSE at Nottingham.

The first step is to decide whether the crop really needs a spray and then decide which is the safest, effective product to use. "It might be that alternative cultural or biological controls could be used instead," comments Mr Bouckley.

After deciding on a product, read the label. The assessment should then decide who is likely to be exposed to any health hazard and what controls may be necessary.

Minimise risk

An operator can then minimise risks by using engineering controls such as induction hoppers and direct chemical transfer, combined with regular maintenance of the sprayer.

At least ensure nozzles, pipes, valves and pressure gauge are in sound condition. Good work procedures also make for safer spraying. A level table surface to stand packs on, adequate measures and efficient pack rinsing systems are examples.

But, preventing drift is number one priority, especially when spraying near houses or areas of public access such as footpaths, points out Mr Bouckley.

A selected product may require personal protective equipment during certain operations. This must be made available by an employer or self-employed person and worn by the person handling or applying the chemical.

The COSH&#42 assessment must also decide if additional risk requires extra ppe precautions, such as spraying at a reduced volume or using certain additives.

Your assessment should be updated regularly to take account of new products and equipment. Dont forget regular training of people handling pesticides must be given under COSHH, as well as FEPA/COPR demands.

"Keeping records is also vital. Information is then available if there is an untoward incident. Records also allow a review of working practices to see if improvements can be made," says Mr Bouckley. &#42

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