Introduction – Issue 12

Once again I am delighted to be involved with the production of this issue, Direct Driller #12. These pages are filled with facts and figures that have the power to direct arable farmers towards more profitable and long term goals which will stand the test of time. They very much fulfil the original purpose of the magazine which Clive, Chris and I discussed some four years ago. It was made in the recognition of the huge hole that existed in farmers’ knowledge of direct drilling techniques.

The journal’s purpose was to look at every aspect of direct drilling irrespective of the contributor, be they farmers or suppliers. If you have a direct drilling experience, please let us know. Agricultural institutions in the UK and in many other countries have been slow to research and advise on direct drilling. Farmers have been largely left to fend for themselves. Direct Driller, as you will see in this and previous issues, (all available free of charge on-line) provides valuable info which, thanks to sponsors and advertisers, is provided for both in on-line and paper editions.

This issue neatly shows a wide breadth of opinion, from William Waterfield of Farm Consulting Group in his article ‘Regenerative Agriculture – Another Passing Fad or a System Fit for the Future?’ which concludes by saying it is ‘a system of agriculture that is truly sustainable with the potential benefits for consumers and the wider environment.  At the same time, it can allow farmers to diverse their systems adding value or new enterprises.’ In his article ‘Soil Cultivations: Ploughing, non-Inversion tillage and Soil Quality’ Mark Measures, a member of the Agricology Steering Group recognises the bad press gained by ploughers and confesses to be a long time supporter of the mouldboard, but not for turning down manure, ploughing in green manure, or turning over the topsoil to the depths set by regular ploughmen.

He describes the work done by Friedrich Wenz in Switzerland with shallow cultivations just 5cm deep and occasional loosening at 15 cm. In the article ‘Putting Covers into Context’ Steve Corbett, the trials manager of Agrii’s Stow Longa Technology Centre near Huntingdon, says that six years of field scale research has shown that, on their land, biology alone is not measuring up with the performance they get from cultivations. The data is taken from some 600 sites and their conclusion is that, across the country, two-thirds of cover cropping “may be a waste of time and money.” They recommend caution and the need for clear objectives.

All readers will be extremely interested in the article ‘Helping Us Buy’ from Chris Fellows, Direct Driller and TFF supremo. He describes a highly original farm input price comparison website which he and the AgriWebMedia team have developed which will provide significant savings for farmers. Anyone who buys agrichems will be fascinated by this consumerist development which allows users to check out prices paid for deliveries of a wide range of brands and products. Finally a big thanks to all readers. Please support our advertisers and mention Direct Driller when making enquiries to them.