Farmer Focus: Agronomist advice – follow or not to follow?

This is my final Farmer Focus, or FFF for short. It reminds me of agronomist shorthand. Apparently, FFF, for them, stands for Farmer F-up Factor.

Unbelievably, sometimes farming clients don’t do what their advisers have recommended and, just as frequently, do something they’ve been told explicitly not to do – even though they paid someone who they chose for their wisdom and experience to give this advice.

Hmm, well yes, I have been guilty of this.

See also: How a winning mixed soil farmer cut arable crop inputs

About the author

Emma Gillbard
Emma Gillbard is Farmers Weekly’s arable deputy editor.
Read more articles by Emma Gillbard

Drilling a field we know suffers from bad blackgrass too early.

Not admitting that the sprayer ran out before the field was finished, causing perplexity at the sight of weeds or disease in that corner that “probably no one will notice”.

As usual this autumn, we had a recommendation for an insecticide to protect wheat against barley yellow dwarf virus.

Some years, Hew and I will have a frank discussion with Tom Marsh, our conscientious adviser, and explain that we think not spraying an insecticide – which will kill beneficial insects – is justified because there are not enough aphids.

This was not the case this year – aphids were easy to spot and they have thrived in the warm conditions. We did exactly what we were told (for a change).

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing for Farmers Weekly over the past four years. The best bit by far is meeting people who feel they know me from following what we have been up to.

I have chronicled our move to zero tillage, which hasn’t always worked. It is straightforward in a dry autumn like this year, but not easy at all in a wet year.

I’ve told you about our flock of sheep, which didn’t do what we were hoping they would.

With just two of us on the farm, we couldn’t scale up to the number of sheep necessary to graze off all our cover crops as we would have liked.

Thanks for reading and thank you also to Hew, who I know has taken a bit of stick from friends about what I have written sometimes. It could have been worse; I could have included more of our FFF details…

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