Farmer Focus: Is Inaccurate information used against farmers?

It’s March, and spring is in the air. Boy, is it overdue.

We’ve had a dry-ish week with blowing wind, so all of a sudden there is an urge to get machines in the field.

I’m adding rolling to the to-do list if dry weather continues. The constant wet since planting has led to a shallow root structure, so I’d like to consolidate soil better, aid roots and encourage tillering.

See also: Farmer Focus: Soil investment now paying dividends despite rain

About the author

Richard Orr
Richard farms cereals and potatoes in a reduced cultivation system in County Down, Northern Ireland with his wife and two children. Richard is a cereals and oilseeds sector council member and focuses on soil and plant health. He also keeps a small number of cattle, pigs and sheep. 
Read more articles by Richard Orr

Our high soil organic matter (OM) often leaves soils fluffy and open, allowing it to work for us when the weather is not on our side. But with shallow roots comes risk of lodging. 

I logged on to check out my soil analysis on the Daera system following last year’s soil scheme to see if organic matters had been updated.

Lots of our fields now sit over 10% OM which is great, but not all the results are accurate, with some suggesting results as high as 26.7% OM.

Some fields are even duplicated with vastly different results. Which one is right?

Several other things concern me about these results, which have lots of red splashed all over them.

I was always told 3 is an optimum level for many major nutrients, yet these results even have 2+ coloured in red.

Will we next be told we can’t apply nutrients to these areas or until results are updated? Is Daera trying to actively lower the yield potential of NI agriculture?

Surely, for agriculture to survive we must be as efficient and productive as possible, not limit production while importing products.

We were also told results were only ever to baseline NI. Now it seems they will be used to pre-populate your carbon calculator.

Why is it always a continual struggle against accurate information? Open, transparent communication would build trust with farmers.

I urge anyone with results that don’t match their previous history to challenge them now before these false results are used against you.

The issue is people pushing pens do not trust farmers to know what’s best for their land that they’ve worked for decades. Technology can help, but it does not have all the answers. 

Now, I’m off to release carbon from the soil in an effort to grow food to feed my neighbours.

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