Subsoiler approach to establishment brings weed control downside for Andy Barr

In the absence of any drying paint, I have been waiting for the propyzamide treated blackgrass in the oilseed rape to die.

Unfortunately over recent years while the subsoiler style of establishment has given great crop rooting and the ability to apply fertiliser in bands, a major downside has been the noticeably poorer control of the deep rooted blackgrass compared with that in shallow disturbance sowing. A ray of sunshine in the weed control blizzard has been the impressive poppy control, in a trial here, from the soon to be launched “Kerb plus” product.

I agree with the RSPB speaker at the Oxford Farming Conference that we must not damage the environment in our striving for increased food production. However, if people do become hungry, food will come first and, therefore, it may be sensible for organisations concerned about wildlife and the environment to invest money in research that could help produce more food from fewer acres. This would also encourage engagement with farmers. We talk about the environment and food production, but it’s all one ecosystem and 2012 is, after all, the International Year of Co-operatives.

DEFRA secretary Jim Paice says we need to innovate. Aha, that’s farming sorted then, excuse me while I go and do some innovation, who knows I may even throw in some “sustainable intensification” for good measure.

On further investigation, some of the world’s most innovative and fastest growing companies are producing goods or services for the public good. These include Tata and their $2,000 (£1,300) car and the website www.alibaba.com. On the latter, I can buy amminium nitrate fertiliser – with a helpful description, “use: explosives/fertiliser” – or even sell my wheat, in theory. So in that spirit, if there are any organisations that have some “help feed the world” trials in need of some land, please contact me.

Farmer Focus: Andrew Barr

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