Farmer Focus Arable: Andrew Charlton finds TFA advice helpful

I suspect one of the less well thought-out parts of Environmental Stewardship is what happens to rotational measures after they revert to normal farm land?

As an organic farmer I face quite a challenge after wild bird seed mixture (OF2) is finished with. It’s rich in seeds and a headache to get rid of.

If you plough it in and back up again the next year you usually get a carpet of weeds.

This year I’ve taken the bold step of ploughing but cultivating with the Polymag in the snow hoping I can then get a good stirring of the soil to knock out the germinating seeds later with the GLB seed-bed maker. Fortunately both blocks are going into potatoes.

Doing so flies in the face of everything I ever thought was good potato practice, but it isn’t a problem I can afford to ignore.

Overall OELS and Countryside Stewardship have suited me very well, but it would be great if there was some research on how to improve these important matters.

Very happily my SFP turned up in what for me was record-breaking time – on 3 February.

In 2008 it was very late, 20 June, and the RPA was unable to offer an explanation until I received a letter earlier this year stating that I’d been overpaid for 2005 and asking me to refund the difference.

It stated that my 2008 payment would not be delayed if I queried the supposed overpayment. Fortunately almost simultaneously I received a Tenant Farmers Association briefing suggesting that if you had one of these letters you should pay up or your current payment would be delayed.

This wasn’t the first good advice I’ve had from the TFA and I’m glad I took it. The RPA has still not explained the supposed overpayment.

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