Farmer Focus: OSR ban idea is ill-conceived, says Will Howe

A Times reader has suggested a new piece of legislation that DEFRA can add to its pages of red tape – a ban on growing oilseed rape in the UK to protect those with asthma and so save the ailing NHS some money.


I fear the reader may have not recognised the larger picture. A reduction in oilseed rape will in all likelihood lead to an increase in palm oil and soybean oil production in Asia and Central America. This will lead to an increase in deforestation, which in turn will raise carbon dioxide levels in the air. This will also lead to breathing problems, but many more issues besides.


My oilseed rape now looks relatively good. It certainly won’t win the prize for the tallest plant at the village fete, but, hopefully, it will yield.


Fieldwork is up to date. The new sprayer is proving its worth, when it is working, by allowing me to cover the ground much quicker than previously; so much so that the machine has been in the shed for 10 days.


The farm always looks its best at this time of year with the bright yellow of the rape, the dark green of the wheat and the beans just starting to flower. And, as spring turns slowly to summer, it will be all change here.


A new (second-hand) frontline tractor is on its way, the new combine will be set to work, a new cultivation policy will be in place and there’ll be a different labour structure for the summer.


But the biggest change will be the first new addition to our family, who, although not being be able to help us with any of the above for a few years, will, hopefully, provide us with plenty of joy in the meantime.


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