Amongst the cocktail of chemicals used to encourage healthy growth free from weeds, disease and aphid strike, there is also a growth regulator which discourages too much straw, but encourages root development and the all-important seed head which we hope will result in a good yield.
The science of crop growing becomes increasingly technical and finite to ensure that we get the best return from the considerable cost of growing the crops. Arable farmers use the minimum amount of fertiliser and chemicals thus keeping costs as low as possible and within the guidelines as directed by the various agencies and directives which monitor food production and the environment.
Today just about every ounce of fertiliser or chemical used by growers is monitored, checked for suitability and recorded. We seek advice and recommendations from our agronomists, and Independent Soil advisers. Soil and leaf samples are taken regularly which enable us to know the condition our soil is in, and what the growing crop requires. This ensures the process of growing the crop and keeping it healthy is economically justified and acceptable environmentally.
In a fortnight we shall have our annual ‘health check’, to ensure we are complying with the regulations imposed by the Red Tractor Farm Assurance Scheme.
Each time the inspector asks the same questions, checks the files, the fertiliser and chemical stores and makes sure we have recorded every detail of input of seed, sprays and fertiliser. Amongst other things he checks the sprayer and fertiliser spreaders have been serviced and washed out correctly and recorded. Also that we have noted where the farm yard manure will be spread and where and when rat poison has been distributed.
We note when the family dogs have been wormed and the batch number on the product! This requirement is somewhat incongruous considering how many hundreds of dogs are walked regularly across the farm, including the fields where the cattle graze.
The inspector will also want to see the cattle passports. He will check that they correspond to the ear tags on the cattle. In the past when they were already turned out, an enthusiastic inspector stalked them for over two hours with a pair of binoculars, trying to read their ear tags! Fortunately Richard is more trusting and if I say ear tags and passports correspond he believes me.
The bluebells are even better this week. Few visitor have escaped being dragged down to see them. Fortunately they go away understanding my enthusiasm and appreciative of this very ‘English’ and beautiful display.
The garden ground work project was finished just in time before the rain threatened to turn the site into a muddy swamp. If one wants a job well done bring in the professionals. They have worked wonders, and once the grass has re-established, the result will be a unique and very fitting enhancement of the picturesque grounds, and an added attraction for visitors, wedding couples and guests.
Campaigning for the European elections is gathering pace. The insults are flowing in all directions but UKIP appear to be the main target.
The popularity of Nigel Farage is bizarrely understandable. The public feel helpless to influence a situation which seems to be running out of control as successive governments have promised immigration control will be a priority which they would attend to, but thus far have failed to deliver.
The British Government is powerless to reduce the steady flow of immigrants as we are now completely under the rule of the EU.
As with many things moderation is the key. Great Britain has benefitted hugely from immigration from all corners of the globe over many decades. Today we still need foreign workers to fill certain vacancies both in the public and private sector, but it should be possible to police the flow.
The government needs to take the ‘bull by the horns’ now, and offer the public an acceptable solution. Otherwise the resulting fiasco following the European election in May will be a huge escalation of UKIP MEPs representing the UK in Brussels.
Those already there have a poor record of attendance and are not notable for their contribution to EU Parliamentary debate, or an ability to truly represent the British interest. Many voters tell those willing to listen, that they will rent their fury and frustration with a ‘protest’ vote in UKIP’s favour.
How they will vote in 2015’s General Election is up for grabs. Interestingly as explained to me recently by a group of thirty years old; a vast majority of the electorate will follow the lead of celebrities and candidates who have a working background, not political!
The public are put off by infighting and slanging matches, and the perception of politicians is now sadly, ‘they are all as bad as each other’. This is far from the truth, but is the result of high profile politicians letting the country and themselves down through warmongering, dishonesty, greed and too often lacking the qualities including intelligence and experience required to hold the position they have been elected to.
Carola Godman Irvine