Ticking Boxes

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.

Please feel free to read through questions and responses from the Field of Wheat collective members and the Farmer.

Miriam

Ahah!!! There is the answer to my question..... they got sprayed!!!! Hooray for the frost :-)

2015-12-10 21:16:59

Tom Powell

Hi Peter, Great to hear that you're making progress on the barn! I hope the cold snap was long enough to put a dent in the aphid poopulations, we're gone right back to around 16 degrees in the South West which feels bonkers for mid December. Are you able to tell us what you used to spray the broad-leafed weeds, and why you chose that particular chemical? I wondered whether you might use glyphosate and aim to clobber the blackgrass too, or is that a separate operation? Tom

2015-12-15 09:42:18

Peter Lundgren, The Farmer

Hi Tom Its still ridiculously warm - 14 degrees out there today - I've even seen bumblebees flying this morning which is quite mad when you think that today is the shortest day. This warm weather is causing a few challenges - not least that the weeds are still growing. That's one of the reasons why I decided to use a herbicide against broadleafed weeds when I would prefer to wait until the spring and sort them all out with one application. On the advice of the agronomist I used a product called Cylops which is a mixture of Bromoxynil and Diflufenican to get control of the weeds, especially some chickweed that was getting very large. As for Glyphosate; I can't use that in the growing crop because Glyphosate kills all plants including the growing crop (unless the crop has been genetically modified to be tolerant of glyphosate). We can only use glyphosate when the crop is either dead (ie just before harvest) or after harvest when we can use it to control weeds such as blackgrass before sowing the next crop.

2015-12-22 15:45:47

Tom Powell

Thanks for that Peter, a nice insight into the decision making. Out of interest, are there any side-effects or costs (ecological or otherwise) that you would expect from using these compounds? (Sorry for the slow response, and Happy New Year!)

2016-01-14 11:59:26