Yesterday morning, Son-in-law Bard and I went on a farm walk on somebody else’s farm. While you may think that this was simply a pleasant stroll in the rolling hills of North Hertfordshire followed by a spot of lunch, please step away from the presumption. This was a fascinating walk, observing another farmer’s methods along with experts. One expert (bad cop!) warned us of the penalties available from non-compliance of rules invented by Europe and gold-plated in London. The other (good cop) waxed lyrical about the added-value of conservation for the land, the beast and the bug. Now, before you think I’m being cynical, we have large areas of the farm dedicated to just this, so in some ways she was preaching to the choir. However you are never too old or too ugly to learn, so I hung onto every word (especially the warnings of financial penalties!)…
Thirty farmers went out on a walk,
To listen to advice and a cautionary talk.
Wearing wellies, coats and hats,
Flapping and walking like wax-clothed bats!
Storm force wind from the North West,
While we were told what bees like best!
Pollen and nectar margins are good,
For bees and bugs and beetles you should!
The dates when fertilizer, spread it you can,
Have been decided by desk-bound man.
You must keep the spread from a water-course,
Spread only so much from a sheep, cow, or horse!
Plant winter seed to feed wild bird,
To only plant millet would be quite absurd,
Add wild radish, mustard and kale,
The birds will be happy, you cannot fail.
Make sure you spray at recommended times,
Or you’ll be subject to varying fines!
Be aware of LERAPS, it’s a great solution,
If you wish to avoid prosecution.
Plant beetle banks to keep them alive,
Will also help your crops to thrive.
Other insects will become your friend,
And lessen the amount of chemical spend.
Don’t forget the NVZ,
Non-compliance, Bang! You’re dead!
Then of course there’s Cross-Compliance,
A multi-use tool (or fine-making appliance!),
But as one old farmer said to me,
Be better make profit from growing you see,
“Nobody cares about food anymore,
What we need now is a bloody good war!”
With thanks to all involved in the morning’s session at Bennington especially ‘Good Cop’ and ‘Bad Cop’ for making sense of much that befuddled me.
Glossary of Terms:
LERAPS: Local Environment Risk Assesment for Pesticides
NVZ: Nitrogen Vulnerable Zones
CROSS COMPLIANCE: A requirement for farmers to comply with a set of Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) and keep their land in Good Agricultural and Environment Condition (GAEC) in order to qualify for Single Payment Scheme (SPS) and other direct payments.
© Baldock Bard 2013
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