The first meeting of the Anglia Farmers Arable Group was a coming together of some of the most forward-thinking arable farmers in the country. The group shared concerns about the possible withdrawal of glyphosate and increasing herbicide resistance in arable farming, as well as comparing the methods they used for terminating their cover crops. They then went on to discuss setting up a field lab, focusing on the best ways to destroy cover crops, while still enabling successful establishment of a cash crop afterwards.
The key measurements outlined for the field lab are:
- Termination success
- Cash crop establishment
- Cover crop establishment
- Crop Margin
John Pawsey of Shimpling Park Farms in Suffolk hosted the meeting. He said; “Many of the farmers here have different methods for making their farms viable. Whether organic or conventional, this is about us learning from each other and sharing ideas.”
All of the attendees were asked to share their experience of using cover crops. Paul Wortley, farm manager at OW Wortley & Sons of Methwold, South Norfolk, said; “I want to avoid working the soil in the winter months. This year we started to desiccate a few fields with glyphosate but I’m concerned about its residual levels and the soil health. I’m also grazing more this year. Normally I would leave the crop over winter after lightly chopping with a disk and leaving as a green manure."
These discussions were the first step towards all farmers working together to find techniques that will work for them, and enable them to maintain and improve viability on their farm. Following the meeting, everybody who wants to be involved in the group will make a start to physically plan the next step for creating a robust trial. The next meeting will confirm the field lab design and research parameters.
The group is being co-ordinated by Lara Clabburn of Anglia Farmers.