Patrick Godwin is farm
manager for the 930ha
(2300 acre) Lee Farm
Estate, West Sussex. Soils
are chalk-based with
combinable winter and
spring crops occupying
525ha (1300 acres).
DRILLING was completed on Oct 28 with 15ha (36 acres) of Soissons. Despite 150mm (6in) of rain last month the ground remains dry, and the unseasonably warm weather has allowed crops to grow away strongly.
Since then we have completed our autumn spray programme. Our main weed burden is of annual meadow grass and wild oats. As the oats can germinate any time from early September to late April we take great care not to spend our entire graminicide budget early on and miss the later germinators. A good autumn residual followed up by selective spring applications usually does the trick. This year we have used chlorotoluron, and mixtures of IPU and pendimethalin in the form of Trump.
These are anxious times for us on the South Downs. Over the next few weeks two important pieces of information will be released. Firstly the Countryside Agency is to issue draft maps for the new "open access" areas under the right to roam legislation. We have three months to register any objections to this draft plan which shows the areas deemed to be suitable for the public to wander over at will.
The second release is the draft map for the new National Park boundary. The feeling here is that although there will be a consultation period it is not a question of "if" but more of a "when" we become the South Downs National Park.
The public perception of having the right to roam in a National Park fills me with dread. While the law may be specific about areas "open for access", arguing the toss in the middle of a flock of sheep with an irate rambler who claims he has every right to be there will do nothing to help community relations. I suggest we leave access to the Downs to the wide-ranging rights of way that already exist. It is already perfectly possible to enjoy the Downs to the full without disturbing the local inhabitants, human or otherwise. *
"Right to roam legislation fills me with dread," says Patrick Godwin from the South Downs.