Steeple Bumpstead
Agricultural Discussion Society

Established 1929

Newsletter December 1998

The start of another season should see harvest finished, most of next year’s crops sown and the new programme of speakers organised. Oh how I wish it was that simple ! Harvest wasn’t too bad but we only just got the linseed in the barn before the weather broke at the end of September and it hasn’t stopped raining since. The programme was all done and dusted until at the last minute the first speaker had to back out because of a family illness. Panic then sets in because it is difficult to do more than one thing at a time (I am only a man) and I was already busy trying to get harvest finished.

You will understand when I say how glad I was to find Dr David Stormonth who agreed at such short notice to give us a talk about tactics in the battle against herbicide resistant blackgrass. We had a talk on this subject a few years ago when we all tended to take the view of " I’m all right Jack - it’s someone else’s problem". Since then herbicide resistance has spread and it was pointed out to us that if we haven’t got it yet then our neighbour probably has! It was very appropriate to review the problem at this time of year when most blackgrass control is done and we also discussed some of the newer products on the market and how best to use them to maintain their effectiveness.

Our November speaker was Peter Hepworth who is a yorkshireman and a dedicated "chemical farmer". Coming from Yorkshire he is very outspoken and his views are not always ‘environmentally correct’ but he maintains that a clean farm will in the long run use less chemicals than a weedy farm. Keeping the weeds out means a very aggressive herbicide programme in the hedge bottoms and he keeps all roadside verges mowed to reduce the source of weed seeds. Peter loves his crops, his farming and big machinery. If it is new, big and brightly painted he will want it on his farm for a demonstration, and he is always so enthusiastic about the potential of these new machines. He writes regularly in one of our agricultural magazines and although we may not always agree with what he says, it is HIS article that we read first. We love to agree with him and we love to disagree with him. May he long continue to be controversial. Needless to say, he spoke to a packed room!

Stephen Graves (Secretary)

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