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Focus on Farming Practice (FOFP)

C/O Alistair Leake
Focus on Farming Practice
CWS Agriculture
The White House
Stoughton
Leicester
LE2 2FL

Tel: 0116 271 4278
Fax: 0116 272 0640

A project established in 1993 by CWS Agriculture, Hydro Agri and Profarma in order to evaluate integrated farming practices in a real farm situation.

To achieve this a site at the CWS Agriculture Stoughton estate has been given over for experimental cultivations. These cultivations are seeking to compare integrated farming techniques with more conventional methods on a whole farm basis. The comparisons made are on the basis of the effects on profitability and on environmental impact of the farm as a whole.

The project is aimed at producing a practical agricultural system that brings healthy farm profits, high quality produce and environmental benefits, using the best of modern, traditional, and integrated farming practices. Focus on Farming Practice seeks to advance knowledge to enable farmers to make balanced judgements to meet the demands of the consumer, make a profit and protect the environment.

The key issues are:

  • Rotate crops ensuring that the same species do not follow each other directly in the same field.
  • Cultivate the soil only lightly after harvest.
  • Crops are drilled late to reduce competition from germinating weeds.
  • Varieties are chosen carefully such the best for the situation in terms of vigour, disease resistance and nutrient response is sown.
  • The whole system is designed to minimise the need for chemical crop protection but when it is required chemicals and the dosage are selected with care to ensure environmental protection.
  • Soil mineral nitrogen is conserved via minimal tillage and autumn planting.

Key benefits:

  • Minimal tillage helps increase soil organic matter, improves drainage and deters aphids potentially reducing outbreaks of BYDV.
  • Delayed drilling allows weeds to be controlled before crop is sown.
  • More targeted inputs reduced production and input costs.

Key disadvantages:

  • Weeds are kept close to soil surface so germinationmay increase.
  • Crop residues can encourage slugs.
  • May produce lower yields especially where there are large areas to drill and land is heavy but quality appears unaffected.
  • To compensate for lower germination rates high seed rates may be required.
  • Sowing late may increase nitrate leaching.
  • Targeting inputs successfully requires increased management time, specific expertise and access to technical information.

Environmental benefits:

  • Encourages greater biodiversity especially bird species..
  • Management system encourages beneficials and increased worm populations.
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