Farmer Focus: Jim Alston on calculating greenhouse gases

Winter cereals look well in this area and the OSR is in exceptional shape, perhaps too much so in some cases. Ours, in hindsight, could have done with some nitrogen. Although the plant is there, it is well behind the neighbours.

Sugar beet harvesting is proceeding steadily and adjusted yields are good, but the days of complaining about being too dry are long gone.

Potato prices are causing the greatest concern, especially how contract prices will look for next year. Matching costs to lower prices will be crucial and I think the coming year will see the gap between buying well and buying badly wider than ever. I am not well enough informed to get the best deals, so all inputs go through purchasing group Anglia Farmers. Its specialist buyers are in the markets on a daily basis.

The other pressure rearing its head was articulated in recent comments by Lord Sterns on the greenhouse effect of eating meat. The greenhouse signature of agriculture is high as it is being calculated without considering the gasses released in growing and transporting imported food. This must be corrected to avoid bad policy being put in place based on incorrect figures and assumptions.

You may be familiar with social networking site Facebook. It includes games, one of which is called Farmville, where players manage a simulated farm. This American site is probably going to provide many of the 62 million-plus players it boasts with all the agricultural knowledge they will ever have.

If only it were that easy.

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