31 May 2002

Lorenz Schintling-Horny

Lorenz von Schintling-Horny

grows 550ha (1360 acres)

of cereals, osr and

sugar beet in partnership

with a neighbour in

Lower Saxony. A further

190ha (470 acres) is

farmed in Brandenburg,

north of Berlin in

partnership with his wife

OILSEED rape is flowering at the moment, which is a lovely sight that everyone enjoys.

Prices have slipped slightly to £136/t, but that is not too great a concern. Due to the cold spring there are not as many branches as in other years but the stems are very thick.

Winter barley ears are out and will be at anthesis soon. It has had its 190kg/ha (152 units/acre) of nitrogen and two fungicide applications, both Opera (pyraclostrobin + epoxiconazole) at 0.5 litres/ha – there are no problems with barley this year except for the price. May delivery is the equivalent of £59/t to intervention store, £6-9/t less than in the winter. Despite that, the barley area nationally seems likely to increase next year as the difference to wheat has narrowed, wheat having fallen £12/t in the past six months to £65/t.

Our winter wheat is at flag leaf and first wheat will get another 80kg/ha (64 units/acre) of nitrogen having already had 120kg/ha (96 units/acre). Second wheat will get another 70kg/ha (56 units/acre) to take its total to 230kg/ha (184 units/acre).

Looking down the sugar beet fields is no fun at all. April and May were too cold and wet and all the advantages of early drilling – first week of April for us – have vanished.

The headlands where we are not allowed to spray herbicides near ditches and hedges look absolutely dreadful. I remember the days when we were told to be proud of a clean field and good agricultural husbandry. Now traditional husbandry standards and habits come second with our short-sighted agricultural policy makers.

When weeds are allowed to spread around the edges of the field, herbicide applications and costs will increase next year to the disadvantage of the environment. I think the "consumer" – our agricultural ministry is now called the "ministry for the consumer" – prefers to see either clean fields or a habitat of scientific interest, not scrappy, weedy fields, halfway in between.

What a mess, both literally and politically. &#42