Rye is a growing problem for Robert Law

I took the shepherds and the shearing team from New Zealand out to celebrate the completion of this season’s shearing. Who would have thought 10 days ago that we would have six unbroken days of shearing, which rarely happens here without the weather intervening.

Growth of everything has been tremendous over the past few days – in fact, when walking around the crops, a concern now is how leggy some of them have become. We have applied our usual PGR programme to all crops and I am glad we have, as a period of wind and rain later on could be a threat to some of the barley and rye.

A particular concern could be the Protector forage rye we grow for seed on the Nottinghamshire sands. The sprayer operator on that farm, Mark Walker, reported that when applying the last fungicide some ears were touching the bottom of the mirrors on his tractor!

It has been immensely satisfying to be able to walk around the farm and see all the hedges and trees we have planted over the years now thriving with “greenness” and blossom that we haven’t seen for a long time.

This year, the RSPB have been carrying out bird surveys on the home farm at Royston through the Volunteer and Farmer Alliance programme. We aim to do this every five to six years as a way of assessing the measures we are carrying out here and the impact of environmental stewardship. I am glad to say that the numbers and species of birds keep increasing, which is a positive story to tell, rather than the constant references to the declining farmland bird index that we keep hearing about.

It seems that Brussels has finally recognised the contribution made by many UK farmers involved in environmental schemes and that we are now going to be able to use them towards the greening proposals in the latest round of CAP reforms.


Robert Law, a former Farmers Weekly Farmer of the Year, farms 1,200ha on the Hertfordshire/Cambridgeshire/Essex borders growing cereals, peas, forage rape for seed and sugar beet. He also manages 500ha of Nottinghamshire sandland

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