Farmer Focus : Matthew Dale 19/11/04

I WAS DEFINITELY starting to suffer brain fade by the end of yesterday.

It was the third day of my FACTS training and the old grey cells were grumbling. Seale-Hayne and serious study were long ago and it has all taken a bit of adjusting to.

Thanks to EU funding, I can get subsidised courses down here, so I decided it was too good a chance to miss. The knowledge will come in very handy.

It means I can now both spell and say words like “volatilisation” and talk about the equilibrium of soluble and insoluble phosphate in the soil. Impressive, eh?

I shall be able to work out proper nutrient budgets to save money, be up to speed on current legislation, and hopefully have a head start with what is to come.

From what I hear on the grapevine, the Water Framework Directive will have a huge impact on farmers.

The new controls on muck and fertiliser use and proposed restrictions on cropping steep and thin soils could cause as much disruption as the SFP and cross-compliance rules.

I feel the changes to British agriculture and the countryside could be more dramatic than most of us first thought.

I know that as farmers we pride ourselves on our ability to adapt, but what is around the corner requires a huge shift in mindset and farm policy to cope.

The fact that all my autumn drilling is complete and the crops look well is almost irrelevant.

Just as dotting i’s and crossing t’s is more important on an IACS form than having the correct areas on the ground, sticking to the new rules could be more beneficial than growing a 4t/ha crop of wheat.

And there we were wondering what was going to happen to all the field inspectors with the ending of IACS.