21 April 1995

Greater control with achievable aims

ICM is a "state of mind", according to Middlesbrough-based LEAF farmer Robert Campbell. He likened it to a "staircase" with scientists and researchers defining the steps. "I am well down on the staircase, climbing slowly but with enthusiasm."

Mr Campbell pointed out that just as environmentalists aspire to achieve bio-diversity, there was a similar bio-diversity among farmers. That meant each farm was different and needed different solutions to problems. Echoing Prof Brown, he said there could be no "prescriptive" definition of ICM.

Using a chart of farms "perceived greenness" he suggested there was a solid wall between the relatively small numbers of organic growers and the rest. But from the other – intensive – end of the scale the distinctions were more blurred, because most were already practising ICM at some level.

Mr Campbell said he did not wish to see even more complex systems introduced to identify area aid as payment for what the public saw as "good". "I believe it is essential farmers take much greater control of their destiny by setting out achievable aims, meeting them and then challenging those who would wish us to move further to give logical and scientific reasons."

Humberside farm manager Neville Thompson agreed ICM was "all about attitude". It allowed growers to express the "art" of farming. Cultivations and timing of inputs were just as important as science, he said. &#42