1. Cap Reform.eu
    Created by Cap Reform.eu
    Jun 20, 2018 at 12:42 AM

    The greening architecture in the new CAP

    Written by Alan Matthews

    Environmental NGOs were harsh in their immediate criticism of the legislative proposals on the new CAP. Greepeace said that the EU farming plan “could spell disaster for the environment”. BirdLife Europe said that “The European Commission’s claim that the new proposal will deliver a higher environmental and climate ambition has fallen flat”, arguing that the new plan “does not guarantee any spending on biodiversity and grotesquely slashes funds ring-fenced for the environment across the board”.

    Birdlife Europe has produced a detailed assessment of the Commission’s proposals in a handy tabular form, pointing out both weaknesses in the proposals themselves as well as omissions where the proposals could be strengtened (a summary of this assessment has appeared on this blog).

    In this post, I review some of the issues raised by these critiques and explain some of the key...
  2. News
    Created by News
    Jun 19, 2018 at 12:42 PM
    With wide backing, a new initiative for Soil Health is bringing together scientists, academics, industry, farm advisers and farming bodies to take a long-term approach to understanding and improving the health of soils across UK farmland for generations to come.

    The new body is being formed as a direct response to the Government’s ambition that ‘all England’s soils should be managed sustainably by 2030, supporting profitable and productive farming, and underpinning targets for clean water and air…’ (Defra 25 year environment plan)

    The new initiative aims to work with all devolved governments to deliver this aspiration across the UK. Working closely with Government, through voluntary actions the approach will help farmers and growers to pass on soils under agricultural management to the next generation protected and enhanced.

    Initial backing has come from a range of research and advisory organisations, agrisupply businesses and soil laboratories as well farmers and growers. (Full list- see Notes for Editors). However, the partnership is keen expand to ensure as wide a representation of interests and disciplines as possible.

    Developed over a series of industry gatherings, the initiative recognises that much is already being done to address the issues of soil health from research to practical field demonstrations. This renewed emphasis on soils will continue to build on the existing knowledge and skills base bringing together information, best practice and...
  3. News
    Created by News
    Jun 19, 2018 at 11:50 AM

    An automated spore trap has been developed which could revolutionise disease monitoring in agricultural crops.

    The device, which was developed as part of an AHDB project led by Rothamsted Research, provides near real-time information on the presence of airborne spores and could potentially help farmers target fungicide applications better.

    Several DNA-based methods to detect airborne spores of key crop pathogens were also developed or improved in the project.

    The ‘DNA auto spore trap’, which was developed with the Burkard Manufacturing Company, is mains-powered and can issue regular alerts on the presence of spores that could affect nearby broad-acre crops.

    The device has capacity to sample high volumes of air and can collect spores as small as 4µm efficiently. Once collected, the spores are disrupted to release DNA for identification by a series of ‘in-trap’ laboratory tests. Results are then sent wirelessly to a server, thanks to an internal 4G router.

    Jon West, who led the project at Rothamsted Research, said: “This technology is in its infancy, but its potential power is incredible. The trap can test for the presence of up to three different pathogens in the sample each day. Weather data, collected by an on-board met station, can also be sent by text every 10 minutes.”

    New tests have been developed for the following pathogens: Pyrenopeziza brassicae...
  4. News
    Created by News
    Jun 19, 2018 at 10:49 AM
    Co-robots, robots that work with humans rather than replace them, is the future of high-tech horticultural production, according to experts at Wageningen University and Research in The Netherlands.

    Twenty British growers who attended a 3-day study tour in The Netherlands heard how a different generation of robots can improve productivity by lending a hand, eyes, or even extra brain-power to support growers with data and repetitive tasks.

    They also learned that automating the more challenging aspects of horticulture, such as harvesting non-uniform crops, is still too far in the future to have a realistic impact on production, despite huge leaps in technological development.

    The trip was organised as part of AHDB’s new SmartHort campaign, designed in part to identify innovative solutions to address labour challenges in UK horticulture as a result of the lack of available seasonal workers.

    Gracie Emeny, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager, said: “From visual technology like hyper-spectral cameras that can detect diseases such as botrytis and powdery mildew within the crop before its visible to human eye, to fine mechanics, or ‘soft-hands,’ that can graft and transplant delicate horticultural crops to help with repetitive tasks, the technology in development in the Netherlands has huge potential to aid UK enterprises.”

    Erik Pekkeriet, Business Development Manager, Agro Food Robotics, Wageningen University and Research, said: “My belief is that eventually we will fully...
  5. Farming Monthly National RSS
    Created by Farming Monthly National RSS
    Jun 18, 2018 at 3:52 PM

    Written by FM Web Editor


    Plants can be genetically rewired to resist the devastating effects of disease – significantly reducing crop waste worldwide – according to new research into synthetic biology by the University of Warwick.

    Led by Professor Declan Bates from the Warwick Integrative Synthetic Biology Centre (WISB) and Professor Katherine Denby from the University of York, who is also an Associate member of WISB, researchers have developed a genetic control system that would enable plants to strengthen their defence response against deadly pathogens – so they could remain healthy and productive.

    When pathogens attack crop plants, they obtain energy and nutrients from the plant but also target the plant’s immune response, weakening defence, and making the plants more vulnerable.

    Building on experimental data generated by Prof. Denby, Professor Bates’ group simulated a pathogen attack in Arabidopsis plants, and modelled a way to rewire the plants’ gene network, creating a defensive feedback control system to combat disease – which works in much the same way as an aircraft autopilot.

    Just as an aircraft’s autopilot control system detects disturbances like wind gusts or turbulence and acts to reject them, this new plant control system detects a pathogen attack, and prevents the pathogen weakening the plants’ defence response.

    This method could render crops more resilient...
  6. AHDB Potatoes RSS
    Created by AHDB Potatoes RSS
    Jun 18, 2018 at 12:52 PM

    New AHDB Potatoes Store Managers’ Guide

    Written by Stuart.Baxter@ahdb.org.uk

    The latest data on in-store airflow, tuber respiration and sprout suppression is included in the 3rd edition of Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research’s (SBCSR) Potato Store Managers’ Guide.

    The guide, released this week (Monday 18 June), is written by Adrian Cunnington, Head of Crop Storage Research at AHDB and is the latest publication from the world-leading SBCSR research team.

    Release Date:
    Mon, 06/18/2018

    Continue reading more on the ADHB Potatoes Website...
  7. News
    Created by News
    Jun 17, 2018 at 9:23 PM

    It that time of year again and nominations for the British Farming Awards are open again. So if you know a worthy winner of any of the categories then please get nominating. Just getting to the final is a great achievement and every farmer at the event seems to enjoy the evening! We certainly did and will be at the awards again in 2018.

    There are 14 categories in total. All recognising farming’s core sectors – arable, beef, sheep, dairy and machinery – as well as acknowledging the vast array of farm diversifications emerging as farmers add value to their businesses.

    The awards aren't just about the scale of a business - they are about innovation and adaptability. So tag people on TFF who you think should enter or just nominate them and then tag them.

    Entries close on Friday 13th July 2018

    Here are all the categories and the winners in 2017

    Agricultural Student of the Year

    Benjamin Theaker
    Nottingham Trent University

  8. Farming Monthly National RSS
    Created by Farming Monthly National RSS
    Jun 15, 2018 at 2:42 PM

    Written by FM Web Editor


    Kit Harington and Rose Leslie meet staff and students at Longlands Farm to launch crowd-funding appeal for new headquarters. (Picture by Paul Lack)

    Win dinner with Kit Harington who plays Jon Snow in the hit series ‘Game of Thrones’, in exchange for funding Longlands Care Farm near Bromyard in Herefordshire, which has launched an appeal for a new headquarters.

    Kit, whose family is local, is patron of the farm, and he’s offering the dinner at the acclaimed Green Cow Kitchens fine dining restaurant on the Whitbourne estate to major donors – visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/longlands to find out what you need to do to win and to see the range of rewards on offer for donors.

    Why Longlands?

    Longlands is an amazing place – a farm where teenagers who struggle with mainstream school are given a second chance, and thrive. But the charity has grown out of its original headquarters, a converted tractor shed, and needs a new building where staff, volunteers and students can meet and learn – and cook and eat together, a vital part of the farm’s ethos.

    Kit harington, who visited the farm with his fiancée Rose Leslie, said: “I’m very proud to be Patron of Longlands Farm. I’ve had a look round for the first time and it’s been an incredible experience. I’ve seen the wonderful work that goes on here, and I’ve met all these...
  9. The Guardian RSS
    Created by The Guardian RSS
    Jun 15, 2018 at 7:22 AM

    The magical wilderness farm: raising cows among the weeds at Knepp

    Written by Patrick Barkham

    You can’t make money from letting cows run wild, right? When Patrick Barkham got access to the sums at a pioneering Sussex farm, he was in for a surprise.

    Orange tip butterflies jink over grassland and a buzzard mews high on a thermal. Blackthorns burst with bridal white blossom and sallow leaves of peppermint green unfurl. The exhilaration in this corner of West Sussex is not, however, simply the thrilling explosion of spring. The land is bursting with an unusual abundance of life; rampant weeds and wild flowers, insects, birdsong, ancient trees and enormous hedgerows, billowing into fields of hawthorn. And some of the conventional words from three millennia of farming – ‘hedgerow’, ‘field’ and ‘weed’ – no longer seem to apply in a landscape which is utterly alien to anyone raised in an intensively farmed environment.

    This is Knepp, a 3,500-acre farm in densely-populated lowland Britain, barely 45 miles from London. Once a conventional dairy and arable operation, at the turn of this century, Knepp’s owners, Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree, auctioned off their farm machinery, rewilded their land and, as much by accident as design, inched towards a new model of farming. Some view the result as an immoral eyesore, an abnegation of our responsibility to keep land...
  10. Farming Monthly National RSS
    Created by Farming Monthly National RSS
    Jun 15, 2018 at 12:02 AM

    Written by FM Web Editor


    UK universities and agricultural research centres which improve the resilience, sustainability and quality of major crops will benefit from a funding package worth around £5.3 million over five years, Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced today.

    The funding will go to four leading agricultural research centres to help develop new technologies and environmentally friendly production for farmers and growers across the country.

    They will focus on boosting productivity for pulses, wheat, leafy vegetables and oilseed rape as part of Defra’s Crop Genetic Improvement Networks (GINs).

    Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

    “Developing new technology is crucial to making sure our farmers can continue to grow world-class produce in an environmentally friendly way.

    “Through this new fund, I hope to see the creation of new and innovative growing practices and crop protections so we can truly unlock the potential of our food and farming industries.”

    Since their creation in 2003 Defra’s GINs have:

    • Increased crop resistance to pests and diseases such as orange blossom midge and turnip mosaic virus.
    • Enhanced pea crops which are now being used to produce high-quality animal feed.

    The four recipients that will undertake the research are the John Innes Centre, Rothamsted Research, University of...