The annual gamble is upon farmers – when do we sow next year’s crops?
As we move into October our main activity is planting autumn crops, winter barley and winter wheat. Our grass seed, oil seed rape and cover crops are already in the ground. The timing of sowing these crops is becoming increasingly critical. If the crops are planted too early aphids will spread viruses to the leaves leading to diseases affecting the yield. Also early sowing will increase the amount of fungal disease in the crop leading to more
pesticides having to be applied in the spring. Yet, sowing the crop too late can mean the fields are too wet to
get the operations completed. In recent years we have experienced some extreme weather conditions preventing machinery from travelling in fields because of excessive rainfall. Crops can be successfully established in November if only we knew what the weather conditions would be like.
Attacking deadly TB
The TB test of all our cattle was partially successful with no reactors having to be taken from the farm, but we have to re-test two milking cows as their results are inconclusive.
So our future TB status depends on two cows as to how quickly we can be classified as TB-free. It is very frustrating. We have though, I think, made progress as we are not losing as many cattle being confirmed as TB cases as in the past. Fingers crossed that in our next test in 60 days we are clear.
The milking cows are now beginning to eat into their winter supply of food and with our maize crop still to be harvested we look as if we have a plentiful supply of fodder to see us through to next spring. It was a busy month for our farm audits from the Red Tractor Scheme and the Food Standard Agency. Both visits were at short notice, or no, notice so they certainly came as a surprise . We have a few non-compliances to correct otherwise we were reasonably in order. There is a lot of debate within the farming community about the benefits from the Red Tractor Scheme. My feeling is that if it brings farms up to a sensible standard of food production and a high standard of animal welfare then it is worth keeping. But there is a need to explain to consumers what the Red Tractor logo means on food products.
What is the Red Tractor Scheme?
Primarily the food will be produced to a certain standard and the farm inspected regularly. The logo also means
that the produce has come from this country.
The labeling needs to be more readily identifiable to consumers. Also food products coming from outside the UK which are processed in the UK have the logo on the packaging. I believe this is wrong. Currently there are concerns that cereals produced abroad are being mixed with home-grown cereals and given a Red Tractor logo. Yet the imported grain has not gone through such rigorous checks.
At our Rawston Farm Butchery we are promoting the Trust Local Love Local brand. After hosting Open Farm Sunday a few years ago it was apparent that consumers wanted to support the British Farmer. We hope that other counties will follow Dorset’s lead and use the logo with their county flag on to show where the food comes from.
by James Cossins, a fifth generation farmer in the Tarrant Valley.
Sponsored by Trethowans – Law as it should be