13 November 1998

IFS can put our house in order

INTEGRATED farming systems can help counter unwanted legislation, but changes in support could drive husbandry methods in the opposite direction, ADASs Sue Ogilvy told HGCA roadshow delegates in Salisbury last week.

"Consumer concern is going to dominate markets. IFS is all about putting our house in order."

Nine out of 10 cultivation practices caused no soil erosion problems, said Mrs Ogilvy. But ipu and phosphate washed from fields in soil could be the next clean-up target. "The biggest thing the Environmental Agency will tackle in future is soil sediment getting into watercourses."

IFS methods, like minimal cultivation, lessen erosion risks and reduce nitrogen mineralisation and leaching, but also cut energy inputs, she said. Five years LINK/IFS work shows profits can be maintained, though weed control can be trickier and more management is needed initially.

Growers hoping to adopt IFS should do so gradually, she advised.