Soil Association campaign is ‘misguided’

I keep reading stories about the Soil Association still knocking mainstream agriculture. The latest accusations being that they are campaigning against a new large-scale pig unit in Derbyshire.

Why do these people feel they have to sit in their so-called ivory tower and judge what other farmers are doing? I guess they have to justify their existence somehow. Whether you farm conventionally or organically, are we not all in the same industry, but just do things in a different way?

I have farmed both ways and there is a great deal of knowledge to be gained from both, which is why I am now using a lot more manure than previously. I hope organic growers don’t have to pay too much to be members of the Soil Association, as I think they are being led up the garden path. We should all be singing from the same hymn sheet, as there are markets for all agricultural food produced. The customer makes the choice and our industry must supply what they want.

Drilling was finished by 1 October, leaving a small acreage to do after sugar beet lifting. We have a deal now for a large quantity of cattle muck to spread on the land each year. We are currently spreading and ploughing that while there is a gap in the shooting to allow us on the land destined for next year’s sugar beet. We have also spread Thames Water waste for the first time on ground coming for second wheat, which I hope will give it a good start due to the little bit of nitrogen available.

I know this is not what you would call “organic”, but organic principles have encouraged me to do it. Let’s all spend the time pushing British agriculture and stop knocking each other.

Richard Cobbald is farm manager for West Wratting Park Estate near Cambridge. The 1,300ha of heavy soils grow wheat, oilseed rape, sugar beet and spring barley.

Read more from Richard and our other Arable Farmer Focus writers.

See more