Farmer Focus Arable: Grain store cleaning time for Andrew Charlton

June is always grain store cleaning month at Poplar Farm.

This operation has greater importance on an organic farm because cheap knockdown sprays against store pests are not available to me, especially as I have a drive-over floor in one of the stores with its additional nooks and crannies for pests to hide in.

Thorough cleaning is essential and I hire in a Big Brute cleaner to get all the stores as spotless as I can. The clever part is I then follow that up with Diatomaceous Earth as a long-term control. This product is no more than ground-up rock rich in fossilised diatoms – very small algae-like creatures that lived millions of years ago.

At a microscopic level, they are very jagged and abrasive to the outer shell of mites and weevils which leads to moisture loss and ultimately death. It is non-toxic and leaves no residue, but it needs to be down for a few weeks before loading the store, which is why I start cleaning out earlier than many others. I have had no storage pest problems in the years I have been using this approach.

It’s a pleasure to record that our landlord has recommenced new lettings after a break of eight years. This is in line with their new strategy which projects a much more dynamic vision on to the estate, as well as plenty of challenges to tenants to be more forward thinking. I don’t know of a neighbour here who is not ready for this challenge.

I hosted a farm walk recently for the local Young Farmers’ Club, which I found enjoyable and stimulating. I was really impressed that over two dozen members made the effort and they were so well informed and not afraid to question me.

Although I suspect they were a little suspicious that my blackgrass control strategy is what it is – nothing at all.

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