11 June 1999

Green open days

AGRI-ENVIRONMENTAL open days are to be staged by United Agri Products at trial sites in Oxon and Yorks this summer.

As one of the leading agrochemical distributors in the UK, the company investigated agri-environmental issues for 12 years, aiming to link profitable farming with practical conservation.

In 1997 UAP became the first agricultural advisory and supply company in the world to achieve certification of BS: EN: ISO 14001, the international environmental management standard.

Environmentalist David Bellamy describes UAPs trials on headland and field boundary management as "ground-breaking".

"They will help put our once bio-diverse rural landscapes back into working order," he says.

The open days – at Radcot Bridge Farm, Clanfield, Oxon on Jun 22, and Manor Farm, Eddlethorpe, Yorks on Jul 15 – will focus on field margins, forestry weed control, LERAP buffers and targeted input systems.

"We are committed to working in partnership with the farmer to ensure enterprises remain profitable, but that environmental and practical conservation opportunities are also exploited," says Marek Nowakowski, agri-environmental manager at UAP.

"These open days will demonstrate what can be done."

Seed treatment launch

THIRAFLO, a new seed treatment containing thiram for the control of damping-off in spring combining peas, is to be launched at Cereals 99.

"Damping-off is a soil-borne disease which occurs in cold, wet conditions," says Andrew Jones of Uniroyal Chemical. "That is why the spring sown pea crop is particularly at risk. Without an appropriate seed treatment, it can kill plants, reducing populations and giving an uneven plant stand."

A further benefit of Thiraflo is its good seed flow characteristics through drills, Mr Jones adds.

WHAT is your attitude to GM crop production in the UK? Does it worry you? Does it fill you with hope? Or does the on-going media furore merely leave you confused and uncertain?

Some experts say the new crops offer big benefits for UK growers. Improved agronomy, more useful end-products and lower production costs are all possible, they say. Others warn that GM varieties will add to on-farm management problems, fan consumer fears and lead to untold environmental damage.

Who is right remains to be seen. But one thing is clear. Farmers – who will be at the sharp end of the technology – seem to be repeatedly overlooked. Who has asked you what you think, for example? Where is your voice being heard?

FARMERS WEEKLY believes farmers should have their say. That is why we are launching the "GM Crops – Have Your Say" initiative. Your views need hearing; they will make a difference to the way GM crops are introduced into the UK.

So tell us what you think on the coupon below. Whether you want the crops on your farm or want them kept out of the UK altogether, let us know. Your opinions matter.

GM CROPS – HAVE YOUR SAY

1. What is your attitude to GM crop production in the UK?

Pro Anti Undecided

2. Do you think the ability of other growers around the world to grow GM crops puts you at a competitive disadvantage? Yes / No

3. How would you describe the governments handling of the GM crops debate?

Good Bad Unsure

4. Do you think the GM regulations are adequate? Yes / No

5. How would you describe the GM companies handling of the GM crops debate?

Too pushy About right Too quiet

6. What would you like them to do in future?

Explain the technology more clearly.

Seek greater public support before commercialising crops.

7. How would you describe the role of the NFU?

Too pro-GM About right Too anti-GM

8. What would you like it to do in future?

Explain the technology more clearly.

Seek greater public support before commercialising crops.

9. Do you know what SCIMAC is? Yes / No

If so, do you think it is doing a good job? Yes / No

10. Do you believe UK farmers will grow GM crops one day? Yes / No

11. Are you: farmer / consultant / trade / research / student / other

YOUR VIEWS: (add any further comments below)

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SEND TO: "Have Your Say", FARMERS WEEKLY, Quadrant House, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5AS or FAX TO: 0181 652 4005 orHAND IN: at Cereals 99 Farmers Weekly stand 115 near main entrance.