Archive Article: 2002/07/24 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 2002/07/24

24 July 2002

Looking for a winter wheat that ripens as early as barley and outyields Soissons? Staff at Advanta Seeds believe they have found it in French-bred Isidor, just completing its first year of National List trials. Harvested off sandy loam near the Wash in East Anglia on July 19 from a Sept 27 sowing, the short, stiff, potential bread-maker yields on a par with Malacca, says Paul Hickman. "We took our winter barley trials off the same site only four days earlier." Flour quality means Isidor, which has good brown rust resistance, is not a direct replacement for Soissons – UK tests suggest it is more akin to Malacca and Hereward. For growers with stretched workloads finding it hard to make a profit from winter barley the Unisigma variety could be a useful alternative, he believes.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/24

24 July 2002

A new option for Ferri medium-sized hedgecutters sold in the UK by Reco is a multi-lever electric control system. Seen as a lower priced alternative to Ferris existing proportional low-pressure electro-hydraulic joystick control, the new system provides proportional multi-function control and allows use of more than one function at a time. Operational speed is adjusted by the amount of movement given to the levers.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/24

24 July 2002

Cutting back on seed-bed cultivations to save money can be counter productive, warns Rob Clayton of the British Potato Council. Anecdotal evidence from samples sent to BPCs Sutton Bridge labs suggests common scab increases with clod sizes of 20mm or more. "Depending on your market, that could hit potato values," he warns.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/24

24 July 2002

Rapid harvesting in ideal conditions gave way to more patchy progress earlier this week as catchy weather hit. First indications are of a bumper oilseed rape crop, with early barleys far more variable. Here Nick Harding of the JV Farming Company near Dorchester, Dorset, takes Pearl winter barley from chalky ground at a disappointing 6.85-7.3t/ha. Siberia yielded a more pleasing 9.8t/ha. See p50-54 for our detailed harvest report.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/24

24 July 2002

Gathering oats… Dorset contractor Mike Simpson of Pro-ag Services is cutting 20ha (50 acres) of whole-crop oats at 30% dry matter for beef producer David Hawkins on his unit, near Blandford Forum. Whole-crop oats were fed with home-grown crushed beans and minerals to 150 beef cattle on the unit last year, says Mr Hawkins. It is fed through a mixer wagon and cattle seem to finish well on the simple ration, he adds.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/24

24 July 2002

CORRECTION

Seed treatments Premis (guazatine + triticonazole) and Robust (imazalil + triticonazole) were introduced in 2000, not 2001 as stated in Seeds Focus (July 12).

Although ownership of the products is changing with Bayers acquisition of Aventis, business continues as normal, says product manager Tim Holt.

He also says approval for use to retrieve the loose smut status of barley is given by NIAB not PSD, so does not appear on product labels. Robust has that approval as well as Raxil S (tebuconazole + triazoxide), he adds. &#42

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Archive Article: 2002/07/24

24 July 2002

Dont let them slip the leash

Although, I am heartened to see the Royal Societys report paving the way for vaccination (News, July 19), it concerns me that the prominence given to the vaccination issue enables the government to neatly side step the fundamental flaws in its handling of last years foot-and-mouth epidemic.

The scale of unnecessary slaughter was unprecedented. Here are a few facts: First, 10,509 farms had stock slaughtered but fewer than 13% showed laboratory evidence of F&M disease. Laboratory testing is accepted to be at least 90% accurate.

Second, of the truly infected farms visible signs of disease were found four to seven days after exposure to the virus (Jim Scudamore, DEFRA Select Committee, Mar 21, 2001).

Third, 8226 premises thought to have been exposed to virus, were culled as a precautionary measure. Many of those farms were not laboratory tested, but delays in slaughter (due to lack of resources) were such that up to 95% of those farms were slaughtered seven or more days after possible exposure to F&M virus.

We can therefore say with some certainty that by the time slaughter occurred on nearly 8000 farms if the animals had been exposed to the F&M virus, visible signs of disease would have been apparent.

We can conclude that up to 5m adult animals were slaughtered totally unnecessarily.

The Emperor truly has no clothes. But only those without a voice have noticed.

Nicola and Andrew Morris

Contiguous farmers who survived, Eatons Farm, Worcs. Morris@eatons3070.freeserve.co.uk

Border security surely key role?

To hear recently Lord Whitty say that farmers are

deflecting their responsibility for disease control by criticising the governments campaign to stop illegal meat imports is depressing.

Perhaps we should have learnt not to expect anymore from this government, but we live in hope. Surely, it is one of governments major roles to police the borders, to stop anything deleterious to the nation entering. If the USA, Australia and New Zealand can mount effective border controls why cant we? The governments attitude seems to be like a captain sailing out to sea with a ship full of holes and them blaming the pumps for not removing the water fast enough.

The government is becoming more like a little child every day. Nothing is ever its fault, someone else is to blame and how dare anyone think of criticising it.

Paul Dymond

paul.dymond@farmersweekly.net

CSS terms are unacceptable

Like many others I am disgusted with DEFRA. The terms of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme are totally unacceptable.

Who is going to waste hours filling in forms and spend a fortune on DEFRAs mad ideas when no payment is forthcoming?

This is just another way of fobbing farmers off and forcing them off the land. I have already wasted hours trying to comply. MPs and DEFRA staff get their money far too easily – CSS payments should be paid in advance.

Robin Graham

Ivy House, Hollym, Withernsea, E Yorks.

Terminating the agreement

Our small farm has participated in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme for the past 10 years and it is time to renew the contract.

We have been asked to sign an agreement which contains two of the most one-sided clauses that Ive ever encountered. Those are:

First, 3.17 "You agree to comply with any changes to this agreement which may be necessary as a result of European Legislation".

Second, 7.b and d. "Payments may go up or down." If the annual payments for management go down, you may end this agreement if it as been in operation for at least five years".

The first enforces us to comply with anything that the EU decides with no appeal. The second could mean (although unlikely) that the payments be reduced immediately after signing and we would be tied in for four or five years!

DEFRA has tried to assure us that these are unlikely to happen, but nevertheless the clauses have to be included. We are not continuing our agreement and will manage the land in an environmentally friendly way without aid.

B R Butler

Broomhill Farm, Pancrasweek, Holsworthy, Devon.

Militants shut Banner Lane

The demise of the Banner Lane Massey Ferguson factory (Opinion; News, June 28) has little to do with not joining the k but everything to do with the industrial unrest of the mid-70s.

I worked at Massey for 10 contented years, leaving in 1978. During the last five years I was part of the middle management export sales team, and lived through the horrors of the industrial strife that often shut the factory down for many weeks each year. In fact, we were frequently evicted from our offices by the militant workforce and forced to work as best we could out of local hotel bedrooms. It was bizarre to put it mildly.

That was at a time of unprecedented tractor demand throughout Europe and the production shortfall quickly built up a huge backlog of orders.

No wonder the then senior management was reluctant to invest in Banner Lane. And, as a consequence, the new models under development were all put into the French Beauvais plant. The equally militant Kilmarnock combine factory, producing a very profitable and well-built harvester, not only lost its production to the French Marquette factory, but was closed down.

At that point a distant death-knell sounded for Banner Lane because most European farmers wanted the higher specification tractors under development, all of which became Beauvais products.

I presume lower spec, low horsepower tractors coming out of Banner Lane have been directed more towards the less developed markets, where price is a vital consideration. During the past few years it is difficult to imagine a worse place to build a tractor sold on price than Banner Lane. In my day we were producing up to 90,000 units a year; the same site today produces two-thirds of that number. What has that done to overheads? If the high spec models had been produced at Banner Lane I expect we would not now be looking at its closure. The ghost of Red Robbo would be pleased.

Andy Bone

Riverside House, Clare, Suffolk.

Cold storage spoils spuds

L C Herbert (Letters, June 28) suggests that potatoes have poor culinary qualities. I believe that is down to the cold storage of the crop. Supermarkets are buying on look and skin finish of the potato, rather than taste and culinary qualities.

A potato, which is kept cold, turns starch to sugar and that then alters the taste and cooking quality. Potato sales seem stronger up until the end of December when many are still freshly lifted or stored at ambient temperatures of about 6-8C.

Storage at 2-3C is required to keep the skin finish at standards acceptable to supermarket buyers. This skin is then peeled to reveal a potato that cooks and tastes badly. In turn, that reduces sales which hits growers and packers because the supermarkets fill their shelves with new crop from Cyprus, Egypt or Spain. That also puts the industry at risk of importing potato diseases.

It is not the growers or the varieties that are at fault, supermarkets must take most of the blame. We are doing as instructed – providing what they require. However, their customers purchase what is on the shelves and if that is of poor culinary quality, what will they do next week?

John White

Burnt House Farm, Burnt House Road, Turven, Whittlesey, Peterborough.

DEFRA cards are confusing

We were always under the illusion that animal movement cards were strictly for movement of livestock. Not now. They are to be used to make life easier for DEFRA and the Rural Payments Agency. Claims for Suckler Cow Premium have now to be accompanied with movement cards for all animals claimed. That means more paperwork floating around RPA and should it lose a card, payment could be stopped. Replacements of these cards is also the responsibility of the claimant. They will not be replaced automatically by DEFRA/RPA or the British Cattle Movement Service. Presumably they will be using the same set-up for Beef Special Premium Scheme. I wonder if there is a vacancy in DEFRA?

Maggie Darby

W Darby & Son, Cracknell Farm, Long Drove, Haddenham, Ely, Cambs.

Hunt clubs are self-regulating

Tales about hunt clubs releasing foxes into the wild are rubbish. The seven hunting organizations of England and Wales have a strict code of conduct. Hunts are visited regularly, both while out hunting and at the kennel. Such inspections are run by the Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting.

In the recent parliamentary vote on hunting, I feel it is a shame more MPs did not appreciate just how well hunting is self-regulated. A prime example being the speed at which all hunting was suspended by the ISAH when foot-and-mouth broke out last Feb. Hunting stopped several days before the government said it should. I can assure everyone that no recognized hunt in England and Wales would ever release a fox into the countryside.

This is unlike our local RSPCA branch which has recently appeared on local TV claiming it has 15 foxes in captivity which it intends to release into the environment. Such a stupid act is irresponsible and cruel.

Lynda Howard

Hodsock Lodge Farm, Langold, Worksop, Notts.

Withdrawal is only weapon

"What are we going to do about the problems besetting UK farming?" asks Henry Fell (Talking Point, July 12). Short of rioting or withdrawing our product from the market for seven days, we are powerless. Our fortunes reside in the fragile hands of farmings leaders. Those individuals should be locked in a room and released only when they are prepared to sign up to a coherent strategy for our industry. Our message to the Press is disjointed and at times misunderstood.

The Permanent Secretary allowed an MP to accuse farmers of causing foot-and-mouth and acquiring compensation in dishonest ways. F&M came in because effective import controls were not being operated. Valuers appointed by the government arranged compensation, but whoever met a valuer doing what the farmer wanted? Of course, I forgot, if an MPs car was in an accident would the MP offer to take a lower price out of courtesy for the idiot who ran into him?

Let us be under no illusion, we have to assess whether we have been well served by the long-standing president of the NFU. Does he recognise the value of strategic planning or the value of team effort? Does he encourage real debate on serious issues? Does he have a team who criticises him? Has he demonstrated any ability to lead?

There is a good story to tell of this industrys success – wonderful landscape, good food, both come at a cost which farmers can no longer bear on their own. Lock those leaders away to agree, which road they favour and then lets follow them.

"Farmers withdraw your product from the market for seven days".

Hugh Oliver-Bellasis

Basingstoke, Hants.

Welcome all betting odds

On the Monday of the Royal Show, I was ejected politely, but forcibly, from the Farmers Club stand for being unsuitably dressed. I was utterly at fault, and I would like to apologise to the members who had the misfortune to witness this unseemly incident.

Ill have a little wager with anyone, however, that within a couple of years, theyll be desperate to welcome anyone in, no matter how scruffy/smelly they are!

Charlie Flindt

Manor Farm, Hinton Ampner, Alresford, Hants. Flindttowers@aol.com

Traced forage is a UK first

Having instigated the development of the whole-crop mill and the concept of primary processing, I was disappointed with your report (Livestock, July 5) on the outcome of the two-year, MDC-funded trial on the efficacy of processed alkaline whole-crop.

The report is factually incorrect. Primary processed cereal alkalages can be produced virtually anywhere in this country. And, at long last, we have traceable, wholesome forage that is at least equal to, if not better than, quality maize silage. That is not only a UK but possibly a world first.

Without the input of companies like Claas and Volac my belief in this concept would have remained just that, a belief.

Peter King

King Brothers Salterforth, Lane Ends Farm, Cross Lane, Salterforth, Barnoldswick, Lancs. lWe are confident our report accurately reflected the results of the farmer-funded independent research at Harper Adams University College, although there was an omission of 2.5kg of rapemeal in the rations fed to both groups of cows – EDITOR.

The true cost of selling

Peter Delbridge claims (Livestock, June 14) that it is difficult to sell his produce to the public. I would like to respond by saying that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to sell a box of mixed produce to a buyer when he has requested a certain cut of meat.

Mr Delbridge, must realise that in the commercial world customers are always right. They will not accept something that was not ordered and that they did not know about until the day before the mixed produce was due to be delivered. He might like to reorganise his pricing structure and inform customers, at the time of ordering, of the true cost/pound of his produce to avoid any discrepancies on delivery.

Frances Leworthy

Frances87@btopenworld.com

Live exports cause dismay

Compassion in World Farming is dismayed that live sheep exports have re-started. Many of the animals are being sent to southern Europe on journeys that can last 50 hours or more. The animals suffer immensely on such long journeys.

By resuming live exports, the farming community risks losing the public support that it so much needs. Most of the general public and many MPs and vets are deeply opposed to this cruel trade.

I believe there is an economically sustainable future for sheep farmers without live exports. Vigorous marketing on the continent should lead to an increase in meat exports.

Also, British consumers must be persuaded to stop buying imported lamb and instead to buy British. UK supermarkets must be pressed to market the light lambs – and to pay farmers a fair price for them.

Peter Stevenson

Political and legal director, Compassion in World Farming, Charles House, 5A Charles Street, Petersfield, Hants.

GM genes are on the loose

GM genes are escaping into the British countryside. Evidence is emerging that the separation distance of 50m is woefully inadequate to prevent cross-pollination. Can I ask that any farmer growing oilseed rape within two miles of a test site does not save any seed this year?Also growers should be particularly vigilant about volunteers, especially those that seem resistance to agrochemical control.

I appreciate that this may be an inconvenience but it is vitally important for farming in this country that GM crops can be confined to a few hot spots. We need early control before they become an epidemic. If any farmer feels that they need help please contact me on 01942 671020.

I recently arranged for an army, recruited from local gardeners – people who really know their brassicas, to clear up around the test site at Lymm.

Tom Rigby

Johnsons Farm, Lowton, Warrington.

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