Lessons must be learned from beet disaster, says Philip Bradshaw

We have finally delivered the last of our sugar beet for processing. Much of it was delivered from our clamp here at Whittlesey over a relatively mild, late January weekend.

This made the unpleasant task of removing the frost-damaged beet from the top a little more bearable for all involved.

I feel for others who were more badly affected by the early frost. Whatever other lessons are learned from this winter with beet, it surely reinforces the need to get the factories open sooner and maximise early season deliveries.

We now have to manage the situation of a larger than planned area of late-drilled wheat that has grown very slowly, coupled with a high anticipated wheat bulb fly egg hatch this month. As usual, we have followed an integrated strategy to combat this potentially disastrous pest, with seed dressings, rolling for consolidation and spraying insecticides where necessary.

It is a pleasure as always to start the first land-based tasks at this time of year. A combination of rolling, spraying, late ploughing and fertiliser spreading has made things busy, especially because I must still attend some daytime meetings and courses.

For more than 10 years in Cambridgeshire we have enjoyed the provision of a dedicated county police helicopter that routinely joins our local ground-based police to combat crime. As a result, many rural based criminal activities have been reduced dramatically, while conviction levels and recovery of stolen goods has increased.

I understand the financial pressure that police authorities must be under, partly because of the comprehensive spending review. It is important to balance policing needs within limited budgets and make efficient use of all assets.

However, the proposal to run a streamlined, national police helicopter service will surely struggle to match the high level of aerial policing that we have become accustomed to with our county-based service.








Arable Farmer Focus Philip Bradshaw

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