Husbandry inputs and safe food

In a field in Wiltshire – I’d be ashamed if it were mine. More thistles and wild oats than wheat as a crop. Cultivations and sprays need to be used with a sensitivity to weather to get weed control; economically.

As I get older, I worry more about the standard of husbandry in farming – in some farms there seem to be some sliding of standards of cleanliness in crops.  Most of the crops I see as I travel around the country have, what I learned as a student to be described as “clean bottoms”, leaving an almost weed free stubble at harvest. During my vacations as a student at Reading, more years ago than I care to mention, I was lucky enough to serve under a farm manager of the name of Richard Noyce in Hampshire. I learned so much from him in terms of using the theory I had from Reading out in the field. Amongst other things, he knew how to use cultivators, chemicals and timing with the weather, to dramatically reduce the weed load on the following year’s crop. Many things are different, now, but we need food more than ever.  Despite this worry, most crops I see are of a high husbandry standard and Britain does have consistently amongst the highest yields of any nation on earth.  We probably do have the safest food in the world, too. Better tell the great British public.

Bill Butterworth, Land REsearch Ltd, 24 August 2017