Heated debate over no-till support plan

Government plans to support reduced-tillage cultivation methods have divided opinion among farmers.

Defra secretary Michael Gove pledged support for min-till and no-till techniques after the UK leaves the EU in a speech on Thursday (15 March).

Details of any planned scheme are yet to be announced – but Mr Gove’s promise has already provoked a heated debate among growers.

See also: Gove pledges support for no-till farmers

Some farmers welcomed the idea, saying min-till and no-till methods brought environmental and farm management benefits.

Gloucestershire farmer Jake Freestone said reduced tillage meant he was now using fewer insecticides with more predators available to control aphids and slugs.

Cambridgeshire farmer David Walson said he was also applying fewer insecticides – although slugs remained a problem.

But others suggested Mr Gove was misguided – and warned that min-till didn’t work for everyone.

Some farmers pointed out that min-till increased reliance on certain agrochemicals.

Others suggested it wouldn’t work at all – or would favour some farmers over others.

North Yorkshire farmer Will Atkinson said silver bullets weren’t that easy to find – especially on northern farms with heavy clay soils.

Hertfordshire grower Jo Franklin said the government should let farmers do what was best for the field on the day.