FARMER FOCUS: Please tell police about poachers

What a difference a month makes. October has turned into the wettest month of the year, with the now familiar sight of water standing in low areas.

It is evident that one dry summer with good cultivations does not rectify our annus horribilis of 2012. The areas of heavily damaged soil are clearly visible, with crop discolouration the key indicator. There is a lot of work to do over the coming years to get the soil structure back into shape.

Although cultivations will pay a huge part in improving the soil structure, the other main area to investigate will be the soil itself and to increase our understanding of how this living organism works.

The driver for this is the excellent Nuffield report written by Tom Bradshaw – of Harvest 13 fame. As we all rely on the soil, I urge you to download a copy and unleash the thought-provocation process.

From being on top of our spray programme, the change in the weather has caused the workload to start stacking up. Post-emergence blackgrass control needs to get under way in wheat, with the weed now at the two to three leaf stage in early drilled crops.

Soil temperatures need to drop so that we can contemplate starting Kerb applications on oilseed rape. Although the crop is quite large at the moment, experience has taught us that rainfall after application does get the chemical down to the blackgrass.

A growth regulatory fungicide will also be required on the vast majority of the crop. No complaints about that though.

Now that crops are well established and the fields are too wet to travel on, why is it that certain makes of estate cars carrying dogs are able to traverse these fields at ease? The annual autumn invasion of poachers has started and so our fortification of the farm will continue.

Other than solid barriers, nothing seems to deter these people, not even having their vehicles crushed. Please report these incidents – many don’t – because without reports no action can be taken.

Jon Parker manages 1,500ha near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, on a medium to heavy land for Ragley Home Farms, predominantly arable growing wheat, oilseed rape, and salad onions. There is also a beef-fattening unit and sheep flock

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