If you are farming in the local area, or know somebody that is, and are concerned about any of the issues raised below, please get in touch with us. We would very much like to discuss any issues that have been identified in your area and work collaboratively to safeguard your business and deliver environmental improvements.
Being Precise with Application
With the latest technology that’s available on the market, precision farming is now within reach for many farmers. When used correctly, precision farming technology – which includes yield mapping, automatic steering and variable rate application – can increase the efficiency of farm operations, whilst ensuring that the local environment is not impacted by run-off/leaching of excess nutrients.
The Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) is now running training courses to help farmers further understand how to improve their farming practice. This initiative is know as ‘Be Precise’ – for more details visits the HGCA website or watch this video.
Here are a few case examples of how farmers in the Anglian region have implemented precision farming and how their business has benefited as a result:
Blackgrass is one of the biggest challenges that growers face on their farm, and with increasing difficulty associated with the use of chemical controls (including herbicide resistance - watch this video), emphasis is quickly turning to cultural controls. The battle can only be won by minimising seed return, combining cultural and chemical control techniques, understanding that one size does not fit all (tailored management per farm), and consideration of the costs and benefits of control over the entire rotation.
There may be light at the end of the tunnel with combined blackgrass control - Read Cambridgeshire farmer Edward Banks’ story and visit the HGCA website for more information.
The Battle Against Slugs
It appears that slugs can’t get enough of our British weather! And this can only mean one thing for farmers and the environment. The use of metaldehyde pellets is thought by most farmers to be the best way to stop slugs from munching their way through your crops; however, we’re continually seeing increasing concentrations of metaldehyde entering the water courses and causing problems for drinking water supplies. The challenge is, metaldehyde is extremely difficult and costly to remove once in water; therefore, we must stop it from getting there in the first place. The metaldehyde stewardship group (MSG) is dedicated to this message through the ‘Get Pelletwise’ campaign. It is important to know whether you are operating in a high risk area for substances such as metaldehyde. Advice and tools have been created to assist you where possible – Know Your Risk.
We aim to work with farmers to promote best practice and consider the alternative tools that are available to reduce the pressure from slugs.
Pesticides or Pests?
Water companies are coming under increasing pressure to ensure that they meet the stringent standards set for pesticide concentrations in drinking water. No more than 0.1 parts per billion! are allowed in drinking water - the equivalent of 3 grains of salt in an Olympic size swimming pool. Modern monitoring techniques are becoming particularly good at detecting minute concentrations of pesticides, therefore it is more important than ever to stop these from getting into the water in the first place. If not, routinely used pesticides and herbicides may face further restrictions on their use.
Pesticides can reach water from farm yards, field drains, run-off, spray drift and over spray of ditches. The good news is that we’ll managed pesticide use is just good common sense: leaving buffer strips between water and sprayed areas, only spraying when soil and weather conditions are suitable, keeping equipment in good order, and being diligent when it comes to filling and washing down sprayers is what matters. This is not only beneficial for the environment, but it also allows you to make the most of the chemicals you buy.
For best practice guidance on your spraying operations, check out the voluntary initiative.