Archive Article: 2002/03/08 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 2002/03/08

8 March 2002

A 3.1m front mounted mower conditioner is now available from Kuhn Farm Machinery. Kuhn says the FC 313 F, when used with the firms rear-mounted FC 313 P mower, can achieve a 6m cut with fully mounted mowers. As with other Kuhn mowers, the FC 313 F has adjustable hydro-pneumatic suspension. The conditioning unit comprises V-shaped nylon fingers with their action controlled by altering the position of the conditioning flap. Price starts at £8300.

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Archive Article: 2002/03/08

8 March 2002

Expert scoffs at cross-pollination scare stories

CROSS-POLLINATION rather than mere pollen movement must form the basis of any assessment of the risk of GM contamination in crops, according to NIABs Jan Ingram.

Following a DEFRA-funded review of a wide range of work on the subject and a detailed experiment at Cambridge, Dr Ingram says: "Much of the previous work is not a good guide to the levels of cross-pollination likely to occur in UK fields.

"A lot of scare stories about how far pollen travels very much over-estimate the likelihood of cross-pollination between fields."

Using male sterile plants and sticky traps to detect pollen from distant crops can be misleading because it ignores the fact that in practice the "receptor" is likely to have already been pollinated by surrounding plants, he says.

Concerns based on pollen allergy studies are similarly flawed, he believes.

Studies at Cambridge show cross-pollination from adjoining fields drops off very rapidly as samplers move away from the boundary between them. And there is good evidence that pollen "barriers" of intercepting crops can help keep levels down.

Much more needs to be known about the role of bees and other insects in cross-pollination, he acknowledges. "But remember that there are about 1bn seeds/ha of oilseed rape."

Huge swarms would be needed to ensure significant cross-pollination from elsewhere. "My personal conclusion is that bees are not important in transferring large amounts of pollen." &#42

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Archive Article: 2002/03/08

8 March 2002

Costly bidding bites into research funds

More is better, or is it? Not when it comes to livestock research, where too many organisations are competing for less money.

Desperate to stay in business, some organisations are spending too much effort bidding against each other for project funding.

Experienced researchers waste their time form filling; particularly with the detail required for EU funds.

Costly bidding processes inevitably bite into scarce research funding. That means further rationalisation. Lets hope the process does not compromise the depth and breadth of vital research.

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Archive Article: 2002/03/08

8 March 2002

Wheat input cuts not a barometer option

Forecasts of £60/t or less for wheat at harvest are enough to tempt many producers to consider cutting inputs. But slashing fertiliser or crop protection products without risk assessment is a dangerous policy, experts agree.

So its heartening to learn that none of FARMERSWEEKLYs barometer farms is planning drastic cuts.

Cost-effective output using modern ingredients, such as the latest strobilurin fungicides, remains their aim. But they intend to keep a close watch on spending. Over-priced products will struggle to get a look in this season – at least on our barometer farms.

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Archive Article: 2002/03/08

8 March 2002

Be cautious when it comes to organics

Tread warily. Thats the natural reaction of growers urged to go organic. Admittedly, NIAB trials make organic wheat production look attractive. But average yields mask big variations and ignore rotational support needed from less productive break crops.

Although the economics of supplying niche markets seem attractive at first, what happens when more producers want to share the benefits?

And for those with direct experience of how organic production can leave farms thoroughly weed-ridden the message is:Caution

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Archive Article: 2002/03/08

8 March 2002

Britains soft spot for African farming

Farmers understand farmers. It doesnt matter where in the world you go: Theres great empathy and compassion between them.

That helps explain why British farmers are still such generous givers to FARM-Africa, the charity that helps poverty-stricken Africans become self-sufficient.

Latest figures show their average donation is £80 – three times the size of the average charitable gift.

Despite tough times in the industry, British producers have not forgotten their overseas counterparts. Donated to FARM-Africa, your money will be put to good use. It will make a big difference.

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Archive Article: 2002/03/08

8 March 2002

Home-grown feeds can pay off but…

Interest in home-grown feeds is rising as producers battle against rising feed costs and the need to ensure greater traceability.

But some protein crops have produced variable results. Although their nutritional value is alluring, many are difficult to grow.

So why bother with an unreliable crop?

To achieve success, protein crops need research dedicated to finding new varieties suited to UK conditions. Some farmers also need more advice on best agronomy practice and harvesting techniques. Its worth the effort.

Such crops could play a key role in pushing down feed costs and help to cut nitrogen use in nitrate vulnerable zones.

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Archive Article: 2002/03/08

8 March 2002

Modern grants just arent easily had

For as long as most of us can remember, farming and grants have been intertwined. But whereas many of the old grants were obtained easily, the modern grant system demands a process of competitive tendering.

That means your application must be better than your neighbours. Even then theres no guarantee youll get the money.

Such a system is cost-effective for the government. But it has left many farmers disgruntled having spent hours filling in tedious application forms only to find that the funds are withheld on a technicality.

The answer? Large amounts of patience, perseverance and professionalism. And, though you may wince at the cost, the wisdom to know when its time to call in an expert.

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