Mike Rowlands 141ha
(350-acre) Bowden Farm,
Burbage, Wilts, is in organic
conversion, with 32ha (80
acres) fully organic from
Oct 99. Potatoes, carrots,
wheat and peas will rotate
with grass for suckler cows.
At Amesbury 404ha (1000
acres) is in conventional
OUR organic wheat has had two weed harrowings and, although there are still some large weeds, it has done an amazing job.
Only a week later the crop looks greener, showing the benefits the weed harrow has on mineralising the nitrogen in the soil.
Record keeping and form filling seems to be an increasing part of the business these days. We have just done the IACS forms and have now computerised the Soil Association records. They have to be spot on, and we have just had our annual inspection. As usual, the inspectors had a lot to say, but generally appreciated the improved record keeping. They were anxious to know our stocking density in the buildings and to see if we had applied for all of the seed derogations. I have to say they were most thorough.
Our first fully organic field of Cara is planted and we will plant the rest when the weather improves.
On our conventional cereal farm, my son has decided to go for strobilurins on the cereals at T1. Besides the proven 0.8t/ha (0.3t/acre) yield benefit, as seed growers the bigger grain size produced is important too.
After a recent Wilts, Hants and Dorset seed growers meeting we concluded that if farmers want new, better varieties, then the "Farm Savers" 50% concession on royalties has to stop. It seems to be counter-productive, as the reduced royalty income is forcing the breeders to push up the royalty rate on both existing and new seed varieties. In turn that forces more to look at home-saving. A vicious circle that may put merchants and professional seed growers out of business. Farm saved seed and royalties are always a sensitive area, but those against paying the full royalty should ask themselves if they want seed grown to the Lower Voluntary Standard, with possible blackgrass and other weed contaminants. Such pernicious problems can take a life-time to eradicate once introduced. *
Record keeping is an increasing part of the business, including the organics, says Wilts grower Mike Rowland.