Simon Beddows takes to the airwaves for farmer chat

Being both BASIS and FACTS qualified and undertaking all my own agronomy, I try to use the winter months to catch up on what’s new. I recently attended the HGCA agronomist’s conference, which had an excellent range of speakers. Bill Clark, director of Broom’s Barn, gave a very informative paper on fungicide resistance and new chemistry.

In essence there has been a gradual shift in septoria resistance to triazoles, but they still work, albeit at higher rates. The message for the future is to use mixtures containing different active ingredients. Apparently, the new SDHI fungicides will give more than just disease control; I am sure I have heard that somewhere before.

A trip to LAMMA is planned for the team this month to look at possible replacements for our aging seed drill. We currently run a Horsch C06, and apart from a few issues it has served us well, suiting our stony soils and min-till system. However, the firm has stopped making it and the replacement Sprinter is not in the same league. So we need to see what other tine drills are available, before arranging some spring demonstrations.

Following Caroline Spelman’s speech at the Oxford Farming Conference, I received a request from BBC Berkshire to talk about subsidies. First, the obvious question: Can we live without support? I replied: “Yes, arable farmers can if prices remain at their current highs, but only if all the other countries in the world also stop supporting their farmers.”

In the end, we talked more about the reasons for the current high prices, which the presenter suggested were due to biofuels. He and his listeners now know all about the ban on Russian wheat exports and the impact on prices.

Farmer Focus Arable: Simon Beddows

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