Farmer Focus: We need diversity in both thought and practice

Late June and early July has been a month of sunshine and showers in our part of Suffolk which has been a huge bonus in terms of positively promoting the height of our crops, helping them to keep smothering weeds in their latter growth stages.

Our spelt, which had been a disappointing thigh height, is now up to my chest and even our spring-sown autumn variety heritage blend of wheat is charging along, having vernalised in the late frosts and showing a good head of grain.

It’s also been the annual cycle of agricultural treats, in that for the past three weeks there has been a range of shows to go to.


See also: How farmer grows wheat within a herbal ley

This year, we have been allowed to meet “actual” people rather than ogle at them through the dryness of a moderated Teams or Zoom session. It has been wonderful.

I have been to Cereals, Groundswell and the National Organic Combinable Crops (NOCC) event, and have loved every one of them.

In my social media bubble Cereals did come under a bit of bashing under the perception that it was “old school”, perpetuating the high-input, high-output model denigrated by the latter two events.

My view is that we need them all and they are as important as each other. We “Farming with nature” lovers go on about the importance of diversity within our farming systems as key to building resilience, so why would we discourage diversity in thought as well as practice? 

It is our duty to support, engage, question and listen openly to all these wonderful national agricultural events, as without them we might lose some of our important tools.

It would be like only having access to a 16mm spanner when you know that a 5/8 inch one would do the job better. 

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