By Peter Lundgren, The Farmer
It seems to have been a busy time – only not busy doing productive field work.
Every year I am assessed for the Assured Food Standards – better known as the Red Tractor logo and I have to say I find the process frustrating. I’m sure there are good reasons for the assessment but it takes up a half day and, however much I try to prepare and get everything I need together before the assessment, the assessor comes up with half a dozen issues I wasn’t aware of and requires a load of paperwork that I don’t have to hand.
It’s the tick-box mentality of the process that frustrates me. But never mind. I’ve found all the right answers to all the questions and I’m now accredited for another year which means that we can sell the wheat with the red tractor assurance logo attached. I’m assured having the assurance allows us to sell to a wider range of markets and users but it does feel as I’m shouldering the cost of assurance for others in the food chain to benefit.
My name was pulled out of the hat by the Environment Agency for a visit to check on my records of the use and storage of fertilisers and manures. Everything was as it should be but as the majority of the questions and checks were the same as those from the Assured Food Standards I couldn’t help wondering why the two agencies can’t talk to each other and save me half a day of repeating myself.
We had a good frost over last weekend that should hopefully slow up the number of aphids flying into the crop and carrying the Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus with them. The sprayer has been out with some herbicide to deal with broad-leafed weeds that have grown too large in the mild autumn weather to leave until the spring (remember the badass pansies?) along with some manganese to help address the manganese deficiency inherent in the peaty soil.
I’ve also been working on the green oak barn – those of you who came to the collective event saw the stacks of timber in the yard – and hopefully I’ll get a crane in soon and I can start putting up the frame.