Back in the saddle again. As I plod up and down the field applying my carefully selected products, adhering to Integrated Pest Management practices, I have time to take a view on what’s going on in the wider world. Please note the IPM Mr Gove, we are not drenching our soils in chemicals! As I listen to either my Spotify music or current affairs and news bulletins on Radio 4, I swing between moods of reflective tranquillity and bouts of bewilderment at just what is happening beyond the boundaries of the farm.
This week has seen the loss of another useful tool in our chemical armoury, that of chlorothalonil, a very useful fungicide. It is particularly galling to realise that this is not a world wide ban and that our competitors abroad will still have access to it. More over, imported food will have been grown using it. I don’t have an issue with losing any products that are either not safe to use or harm the environment, but this has to be backed up by not exporting our environmental footprint to other countries.
I also heard this week about a decline in British pollinating insects, in particular wild bees and hoverflies, both of which are crucial to agriculture. It was interesting to note that common species of bees, such as those that pollinate flowering crops like rape, are increasing. This slightly flies in the face of the neonicotinoids argument. Apparently, the rise in oilseed rape area since 1980 has helped with this increase along with the flowering strips that many of us have established on the margins. The unintended consequences of the seed treatment ban will be to hit this increase in bees, as the oilseed rape area is set to crash thanks to the cabbage stem flea beetle epidemic. Many in our local agronomy group are giving up growing rape and we may well join them next year.
I am not going to comment on the B word as by the time I press send it will have changed again. Instead I will just enjoy the view from my cab as the countryside changes from a dull grey to a tapestry of green as spring arrives.