Logged-in Menu

Login

Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN)

Potato Cyst nematode (PCN) is a pest which is decimating Scotland’s potato industry and has also affected daffodil bulb growers. The chemical treatments available are limited and harmful of people and soil. Without a solution, it was expected that the seed potato industry would be annihilated in 30 years. The Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS) has picked up on some work undertaken in Holland that showed that creating a chitin rich compost can clear fields of PCN. Chitin comes from shellfish and from Soldier flies. As well as trials on the compost other framers are working on trap crops, where the nematodes hatch and attach themselves to other plants where they cannot complete their lifecycle, and also PCN resistant potato varieties.

For the full article head to www.innovaivefarmers.org and look for the September 2020 news.

Ten Years for Agroecology in Europe

The recent Soil Association magazine has an article on ‘Ten Years for Agroecology in Europe’ which sets out how ti would be possible to provide a sufficient and healthy diet to a growing population using ecological faming – without the use of pesticides. It discusses the current problem of crops commercially available to farmers being specifically designed for high pesticide use aimed at increasing yields and nothing else, This just leads to an increasing need for pesticides, meanwhile pests and diseases quickly develop resistance so new and more potent pesticides are needed. Pesticides have been shown to play a major part in the catastrophic farmland wildlife crash. Removing a single pesticide, like neonicotinoids, doesn’t work as they are simply replaced by another pesticide. The report shows how moving the farming system away from a reliance on pesticides can still provide a sufficient and healthy diet to a growing population, and this year work on a UK model will illustrate how such an approach can also tackle climate change impacts and wildlife decline.

 

The Importance of Soil

The Land Magazine www.thelandmagazine.org.uk has an interesting article in its issue 27 which considers why soil is not seen as interesting or relevant by politicians or people. The UN has reported that a third of all the worlds soils are degraded, yet UK Governments plans to improve the environment (2018 25 year Plan to improve the environment) still have no roads maps, no identifiable milestones.. so no soil health strategy linking the state of our soils with their sustainable management. There is no sense that the Government has any coherent vision for achieving its aims. Last year the Sustainable Soils Alliance (SSA) campaigned to get soil health included in the Agriculture Bill as one aspect of what farmers can be paid for because it is a means to delivering other public goods. So a step forward. The article outlines some of the problems faced by different levels of complexity; in a country with 747 different soil types how can policy makers decide what counts as a healthy soil – a task the SSA is on with in an attempt to break down the inertia that exists. Currently the monitoring of soil receives 0.4% of all Defra’s spend on monitoring of air, water and soil. At a time when the UK is losing 2.2 million tonnes of topsoil each year, much of which ends up in water courses as sediment contamination. English Farmers have a one in 200 year chance of being inspected for observance of the Farming Rules for Water. The article also looks at peat loss and the role of peat and soil in carbon storage – 95% of UK land carbon stocks are held in our soils, and 40% of this is stored in peat bogs which are decreasing rapidly.