I have been busy this winter with various off-farm activities, including my last formal event as a Landskills East chairman. The project has been extended slightly to shorten the gap between it and the new Skills project, and I look forward to seeing the new “Nationwide” package being rolled out, hopefully sooner rather than later.
On the farm, I have finished my winter ploughing and will cultivate some of the heavier areas on a frost if the chance arises. The oilseeds are wintering quite well, have good ground cover, and are yet to suffer from our normal high level of pigeon pressure.
We have got the largest irrigation reservoir full at Whittlesey, and should get the smaller one at Newborough topped up once we get the pump overhauled. There should be enough water available, although I believe we are still technically in a drought.
The annual battle with wheat bulb fly on late-drilled crops is just starting, and we are carefully applying Dursban (chlorpyrifos) as part of our usual strategy of chemical and cultural control.
Obviously, like all pesticides, chlorpyrifos need to be used very responsibly, and I am pleased to support the “Say no to drift” campaign to maintain the availability of this important active ingredient.
With the loss of dimethoate for wheat bulb fly control almost certain, chlorpyrifos will really be our only pesticide choice to control this damaging pest on late-drilled wheat when the seed dressing runs out of steam. It also has an important place in control of blossom midge and leatherjackets in wheat, and in fruit and vegetable crops for many other pests.
We all need to continue to demonstrate our collective responsibility with uptake of extended buffer zones, use of appropriate low-drift technology and professional pesticide application and handling practice. It is essential to show cross-industry support to maintain chlorpyrifos and many other active ingredients availability under ever-increasing regulatory conditions.