17 May 1996

ICM offers small rise in profit

ENVIRONMENTALLY friendly farming based on the integrated crop management approach generates a modest improvement in profit when compared with conventional arable farming systems.

That was the message Ian Stockdale, head of TSB Agriculture, had for visitors to the launch of the Nevile familys Marlborough Farm at Aubourn as Lincolnshires first LEAF demonstration farm.

Mr Stockdale stressed that the good times currently being enjoyed by arable farming would not continue ad infinitum. Significant CAP changes were likely which would direct support towards more environmental friendly farming systems, he said.

To persuade more farmers to adopt the ICM approach, it was necessary to show such a system was sustainable and was not going to result in a dramatic fall in profitability. To provide factual information TSB is combining with LEAF and Andersons in a project aimed at assessing the full impact of ICM and comparing results with conventional farming in the same area.

Results of a first study, based on a LEAF farm of 800ha (2000 acres) of Cotswold brash will be announced at Cereals 96, with a comparison of results achieved on arable/dairy farms available at the Royal Show. Indications are that adopting an ICM approach does not affect the financial viability of the business. Similar profitability could be maintained, while creating environmental benefits.

Work to date appears to suggest the ICM system may generate a modest improvement in profitability over conventional systems. Farmers would not lose by going down the ICM road, he said. &#42

Alan Barker