Mike Allwood

14 September 2001

Mike Allwood

Mike Allwood is owner-

occupier of 82ha (200-

acres) near Nantwich,

Cheshire. The 175-cow dairy

herd block calves during

May and June. Besides

converting to organic

production, he is also

planning to produce

unpasteurised cheese

MANY producers, I suspect, plan their new enterprises in great detail before undertaking them.

I tend to operate on the find out the hard way principle, as is happening with our potato growing.

All was progressing well, apart from the back-breaking work of harvesting by hand. Then I woke up one day to discover that what I thought was drought stress was actually blight and it had spread across the entire field in two seconds flat.

I decided to harvest spuds straight away, with the help of our contractor, who advised me we could not just put them in bags and store them because they would heat and go off. We do not have floor space to store 14 varieties in bulk inside, so I decided to store them outside, covered in straw and soil. Another friend has kindly told me we should not have done this because they will be eaten by slugs – how helpful friends can be.

Cows are continuing to milk well, having averaged 3-4 litres a cow a day more than last summer. Butterfats are low, but thankfully this has no effect on price, which is fixed. From what I hear, other cows have performed equally well on grass, which is encouraging because I have some quota to lease out. Anyone wanting an early deal before the price begins to rocket should let me know.

If I could change just one organic rule, I would allow knapsack spraying of docks with glyphosate. This would cause minimal environmental damage and make life much easier, as no amount of cutting, grazing or topping seems to eliminate them.

We ploughed a badly infested ley three weeks ago and cultivated it once. Since then we – I use the word we collectively, but it means everybody except I – have been walking up and down digging up old roots and bagging them. So far we have only completed 1.2ha (3 acres) out of 4.5ha (11 acres). I have decided to have a blitz day this week, covering the field in bodies to try to finish the job.

For a third consecutive cut, we have made silage in dry weather. This must be a portent of disasters to come. &#42

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