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Farming

Group backs herbicide use

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Glyphosate: One of most frequently used herbicides in UK

KEY independent bodies and industry companies in the UK have joined forces to promote best practice to help ensure the continued availability and efficacy of glyphosate-based herbicide products.

The European Commission recently renewed the approval of glyphosate for five years. To retain both the availability and efficacy of glyphosate in the UK for agriculture, horticulture, amenity and wider use, it is important that action is taken at the ground level.

In response, the independent stakeholders AHDB, AIC, NFU and the Weed Resistance Action Group (WRAG) have worked alongside companies within the UK glyphosate industry – Albaugh, Barclay, FMC, Monsanto, Nufarm and Syngenta – to review guidance, update resources and publish materials on a dedicated web page: https://bit.ly/2s09iRA.

Paul Gosling, lead weed expert at AHDB, said: “Since its introduction over 40 years ago, glyphosate has become one of the most frequently used herbicides in the UK.

“The industry fought hard to retain it and now, with the herbicide’s immediate future secured, it is vital that residues are minimised and resistance risks are managed.

“With planning for the 2022 renewal process already underway, glyphosate users must be proactive and follow best practice.”

One way in which glyphosate is used is pre-harvest on a range of cereal, oilseed and pulse crops to control weeds, aid harvesting and protect grain quality and food safety. Label recommendations and harvest intervals must be adhered to and best practice followed to ensure that any crop residues are kept to a minimum.

A new publication entitled ‘Pre-harvest glyphosate use in cereals and oilseed rape’ is now available from AHDB. It outlines the key points to consider, including application timing, which can be followed in the run up to harvest 2018.

Although there have been no confirmed cases of glyphosate-resistant weed populations in the UK, examples have been identified in Europe. Together with widespread resistance to other herbicides and the loss of key active ingredients, this means it is vital to prevent resistance to glyphosate and retain its efficacy.

In 2015, guidelines from WRAG were published by AHDB that detail how best to use glyphosate as a stale seedbed management tool. Put simply, the strategy is: one, prevent survivors; two, maximise efficacy; three, use alternatives; and four, monitor success.

James Clarke from ADAS and WRAG Chairperson said: “AHDB and industry-funded research conducted since 2015 has confirmed that these guidelines are robust. They represent the most recent position and, if followed, can help us to avoid the development of glyphosate resistance in the UK. For weeds, management decisions made by individuals have an impact in their own fields, even if others get it wrong.

“Alternatives to glyphosate should be used whenever possible and more than two pre-drilling applications must always be avoided. When applied, it should be at the right dose, at the right time and in the right conditions. Any surviving weeds should not be treated with glyphosate again and any suspected resistance must always be reported and investigated.”

Farming

2019 ‘a step into the unknown’

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IN HIS New Year Message Kevin Roberts, chair of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has said that never has a year brought such uncertainty, due to the ongoing political deadlock over Brexit.

Mr Roberts emphasised that the red meat industry, which brings £200m a year in export income for Wales and boasts the world-renowned PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef brands, was one of the sectors with most to lose.

WTO Tariffs, which are likely to be levied in the absence of a deal, are 5-10% on many types of goods but on fresh red meat, they range from 40-80%. Independent studies have also identified the sheep sector, which is heavily dependent on exports of its premium-quality produce, as particularly vulnerable to a disruption in European trade.

HCC Chair Kevin Roberts said, “Throughout the past year, I’ve said time and again that the future is fundamentally bright for our industry. We have top-quality produce, brands which are recognised throughout the world, extremely dedicated producers and an industry which pulls in the same direction in promoting high standards in meat quality, welfare and sustainability.

“However, as 2019 dawns we find ourselves standing on a cliff edge,” he said. “Independent reports project a fall of 30% or more in farm-gate prices if there’s a chaotic Brexit, and farmers need certainty in order to invest and continue to develop their businesses.

“HCC is working with Government and others to put contingency plans in place as far as we can,” added Mr Roberts, “but the uncertainty and the range of potential outcomes are so great – just three months before the exit date – that the complexity involved is immense.

“Our industry’s New Year wish is simple; to be able to trade freely and fairly and have some certainty for the future.”

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Farming

NSA hits back at vegan campaign

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THE ARRIVAL of a new year is often a time of optimism, of making plans for the year ahead, but increasingly for livestock farmers, January is now the time producers find themselves arguing a torrent of false claims of crimes against animal welfare, the environment and human health that the media are so quick to promote as part of ‘Veganuary’.

And this year, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is ready to fight back against what it says is ‘a misguided and misleading campaign’.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: “Make no doubt about it, behind the positive messages about Veganuary lies a well-coordinated campaign against livestock farming. Our concern is that our unique grass-based method of sheep production in Britain is hidden within more global and general statistics.

“We are seeing criticisms from welfare campaigners, rewilders, climate change campaigners, and health campaigners – but all these are connected and ignore the fact that UK sheep farming works very much in harmony with our environment, our landscapes, and our human ecology – creating a countryside the majority of the public love and producing a food product that is healthy and nutritious within a balanced diet.

“The climate change arguments that have been buoyed by the recent Paris Climate Change Summit ignore the fact that red meat from livestock that is part of a grass-based system is different from that raised in feedlots and in intensive situations. Even more misleading is that the carbon footprinting tools we use do not take account of whole life cycles and ignore the role of grasslands and grazing animals in storing carbon and organic matter in our soils and even in the wool they produce. I would go as far to suggest that ‘organic greenhouse gas cycling’ from grazed livestock should be treated separately from gas emissions derived from fossil fuels.”

NSA says the UK should be seeking to maintain or even increase sheep numbers here in the UK, related to market demand, but further encourage the distribution into areas that are devoid of livestock in order to provide the multi-functional outcomes that people are interested in today.

Mr Stocker concludes: “In the UK sheep are a form of positive and regenerative agriculture which keep our uplands and permanent pastures in good condition and improve our cropping lands in terms of soil quality and the ecological benefits of a return to mixed farming.

“Some people seem hell-bent on portraying sheep as a global enemy, but in fact, they are the ultimate in renewable technology and are an efficient form of productive land management that is planet friendly.”

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Farming

Sheep and goat inventory

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NFU CYMRU is reminding farmers that the 2019 Annual Sheep and Goat Inventory forms must be returned by February 1.

The form is a legal requirement and must be returned by no later than Friday, February 1, to avoid an increased risk of being selected for an inspection. The form should include the number of sheep and goats of which the farmer is the registered keeper, by CPH location, on January 1, 2019. Farmers must also record the number of sheep and goats on January 1 in their on-farm flock record to avoid a potential cross-compliance penalty.

Sheep and goat keepers have the option of completing the form online via www.eidcymru.org. However, keepers must have registered to EIDCymru prior to submitting the online inventory return. If you are completing the form electronically, you do not need to return the paper form

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