16 October 1999

Legal niceties of e-commerce

Problem

WE want to use the internet to buy farm machinery from domestic and foreign markets. I am aware of how the system works but what are the legal implications?

Jamie Symington,

L Symington Farms Ltd, Balaclava Farm, Terrington St Clements.

Response

Buying and selling over the internet is predicted to be one of the biggest changes in business over the next five to 10 years. As far as the farming business and the individual is concerned, the primary concern is to be properly protected while dealing with what is a new form of commerce.

Before proceeding with a transaction over the internet you must consider the following:

1) In the case of purchase, such as machinery from a foreign manufacturer, be sure you know who the seller is.

2) Understand the jurisdiction, ie that has the power, right, or authority to apply the law.

3) Check terms and conditions.

4) Make sure you have a paper record of Proof of Purchase.

5) Take advice on payment.

6) Be wary of credit card transactions prior to purchase.

7) Ensure that all the proper paper documentation is provided for warranty claims.

8) Appreciate problems associated with complaint procedures when purchasing electronically.

9) You could be at risk from bogus and fraudulent individuals masquerading as genuine businesses.

If you follow these basic rules the majority of e-commerce transactions should be trouble free. However, problems can arise, and having to issue proceedings against parties in foreign jurisdictions can be expensive and time consuming. In any event make sure that there is always written evidence of the transaction with the address and contact of the company or business from which the purchase has been made.

Tom Watkinson,

partner in Nottingham-based solicitor, Roythorne & Co.

Letters to the Editor

I WAS intrigued by the article in Crops, w/e 4 September, entitled "Doctors cure for nutrient lock-up. I am not against new ideas but when they conflict with a vast amount of experience and field experimental work they are likely to cause confusion.

Not knowing the details of Hungerton Farms I cannot comment on the problems there except to say that I am surprised if they have high soil levels of molybdenum as this does not show on the maps of molybdenum levels for Lincolnshire. Copper deficiency in animals is a complex problems and may not be directly limited to the soil. Copper deficiency in stock and in crops is found in different areas and on different soils.

Many field experiments have shown that triple superphosphate (TSP) is perfectly satisfactory on both limestone and chalk soils as a source of phosphate. It is not locked up within hours as stated in the article.

Experiments on chalk soils have shown that except on deficient soils it is perfectly satisfactory to apply TSP once every two years. Ammonium phosphate may be more beneficial for seedlings but only if placed close to the seed where the acidifying effect of the ammonium can affect the area near the young roots.

According to the article the crops at Hungerton Farms are low in nearly all nutrients. This is difficult to believe as yields appear to be normal. The interpretation of plant analysis is not simple as many factors need to be taken into account such as stage of growth, the particular tissue analysed and the variety. The only common reason I have found for all nutrients to be low is when there is some restriction or damage to the root system.

While in theory using ammonium forms of nitrogen may affect nitrogen uptake, in practice it makes little difference as in warm moist soil ammonium nitrogen is quickly converted to nitrate and for growing crops almost all the nitrogen is taken up as nitrate in whatever fom it is applied. Using ammonium forms of fertiliser also increase the risk of ammonia loss if top dressed in dry conditions.

One statement with which I wholeheartedly agree is that to make the best use of fertilisers requires accurate analysis, independent advice and sound management.

George Wadsworth,

consultant soil scientist and president of the Institute of Professional Soil Scientists

Sign upto tour India

IN the space of the last three decades the sub-continent has gone from food shortages to exportable surpluses of wheat and rice. On this 15-day trip, escape the gloom of a British winter to south India to see agriculture as exotic and varied as spice growing, bananas, tropical fruit, coconuts, coffee and tea plantations, snake and alligator farming, as well as the all-pervading rice paddy fields.

Apart from farming you will see some of the magnificent temples and wildlife parks as well as spending some time at one of the beautiful southern beaches for a spot of relaxation.

Crops columnist, Stephen Carr, will lead the trip. Leaving at the end of January, this tour is yet to be advertised and places are limited to 16 people. Any readers interested in booking a place should ring Bob Newbury of Chandertal Tours on 01323 422213.

I READ your article on slug control with interest, particularly as the job falls to me on our family farm. I find it difficult to totally agree with all the points Mr Rham makes – especially his five simple points.

The first point of monitoring is of course very important, but I feel compelled to say that the next stage where a problem is expected (after oilseed rape) must be to treat the field before drilling. This has proved of great importance and achieved excellent results in work done here. This reduces the initial eating force before the seed hits the ground. After further monitoring at drilling it should be decided if to apply a further does or to watch closely. I certainly agree the next points are very valid, but I think the pre-drilling treatment increases effectiveness against the slimy little critters.

One further point I would make about the article is the lack of comment on the effect the weather has on slug activity and therefore the opportunity to kill the slugs. The weather conditions should also be taken into account; mini pellets will not be effective at this stage in the season after a heavy shower.

John Clough,

jclough@farleysfarm.freeserve.

co.uk