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Farming Today

  • 19/06/24 - Re-doing the Green Revolution, the Landworkers' Alliance manifesto and horticulture training

    <p>Could the plant breeding achievements of the Green Revolution be started again from scratch? That's the hope of scientists at the John Innes Centre, who say modern commercial varieties of wheat used by farmers could be replaced with better ones, using wheat lines collected a century ago. Back in the 1920s, an enterprising plant scientist named Arthur Earnest Watkins sent out letters to other Brits around the world, asking them to collect locally grown wheat, hoping the traits in those local cultivars would come in useful in the future. That original Watkins Collection is now based at the John Innes Centre in Norwich - but a massive 60 percent of the genetic diversity held within it, has never been looked at.</p><p>The Landworkers' Alliance is one of the smaller groups. It speaks for regenerative and sustainable agriculture, but with an emphasis on local production, and getting more people involved in growing food. We hear what they want from the next Government.</p><p>And we visit a new "Centre of Excellence" in glasshouse growing at Hadlow College. It's been set up with Thanet Earth - the biggest greenhouse complex in the UK, growing salad veg. </p><p>Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons</p>

  • 18/06/24 - Contaminated salad leaves, UK grown tomatoes and Soil Association election manifesto

    <p>A recent E-coli outbreak is thought to have been caused by contaminated salad leaves. There have been over 200 confirmed cases of food poisoning across the UK caused by e-coli bacteria found in manure, with nearly half those affected admitted to hospital. So how does the bacteria get into the salad, and what are farmers doing to prevent it?</p><p>As part of our week looking at salads, we visit Evesham Vale Growers in Worcestershire, where they grow 500 acres of spring onions outside and some 70 acres of premium tomatoes in glasshouses. Alongside salad production, they grow crops including maize and wheat to feed anaerobic digesters for gas and electricity, and there's a solar farm. Some of the gas and electricity is used to heat and light the glasshouses - insulating them somewhat from fluctuating energy prices.</p><p>The Soil Association, which campaigns for sustainable and organic food and farming, has published it's list of demands in the run up to the election. It wants the next Government to 'grow green jobs' by backing sustainable British farming and protect the NHS by supporting healthy and sustainable food.</p><p>Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons</p>

  • 17/06/24 Salad sales down, farming in the party manifestos, dung beetle conference

    <p>With the rain continuing and below average temperatures, the outlook isn't so sunny for UK salad growers.</p><p>We look at some of the detail in the main parties' manifestos to see what they're promising on issues like the agriculture budget, food security and England's badger cull. </p><p>Sometimes described as a farmer's best friend, dung beetles consume, bury and break up dung, improving soils as they go. Earlier this month vets and farmers met at a conference in Somerset devoted to the dung beetle. </p><p>Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.</p>

  • 15/06/24 - Reproductive ethics in livestock, dog DNA and seed breeding

    <p>Three UK vet practices are now offering IVF for cows. It's a common practise for dairy cows to be made pregnant using artificial insemination, but IVF is more specialist. It allows for multiple embryos to be produced from one particularly good cow, meaning the genetics of a herd can be improved more quickly and its health and productivity improved. But it means hormonal treatments and some invasive procedures for the cow - so is it ethical?</p><p>In a world first, methane from slurry on a farm in Somerset is being broken down and turned into hydrogen gas and graphene. Graphene is a material that was discovered in the UK 20 years ago, and is normally made from mining graphite rock. But a company called Levidian has developed a process which separates the carbon and hydrogen in methane gas, to make graphene and hydrogen. </p><p>And ten police forces across the country will soon be trialling new forensic technology to help identify dogs involved in livestock attacks. We hear from farmers affected and find out why the police think this new kit will help.</p><p>Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons</p>

  • 14/06/24 IVF in dairy cows, CLA election manifesto, flooding, Kate Humble at the Hay Festival

    <p>The vets using IVF to improve dairy herds, and could a new 2-stage planning system help kickstart the rural economy? We hear from the CLA on what it wants from the next government. In a special episode of On Your Farm recorded at the Hay Festival, Kate Humble explains how she accidentally ended up buying a council farm in the beautiful Wye Valley in Wales.</p><p>Presented by Caz Graham and produced by Beatrice Fenton.</p>

  • 13/06/24 Farm vets and the strain of TB; Wildlife Trusts election wish list; Dog DNA

    <p>We’re talking about vets all this week and one of the most difficult and unpleasant jobs they face is dealing with serious illness and disease in livestock, like the devastating foot and mouth outbreak in 2001. Breaking the painful news to a farmer that their whole livelihood is under threat is something no one wants on their job description. The threat of bovine TB can take a heavy toll on the mental wellbeing of both farmers and vets. We meet a dairy farmer in Derbyshire who's lived under the shadow of TB all her life, and also the farm vet who runs the TB Advisory Service which supports farmers and vets.</p><p>As the general election campaigning continues, party manifestos are coming out, thick and fast. We’re going to be taking a detailed look at all of the main manifestos with key party spokes-people, the week before the election on 4th July, but we’re also hearing from a range of campaign groups and organisations that live and breath farming, rural life, wildlife and the environment to find out what they would like from the next government. Today it’s the Wildlife Trusts, the organisation that campaigns for wildlife and wild places.</p><p>Ten police forces across the country are to trial new forensic technology to help identify dogs involved in livestock attacks. It involves collecting canine DNA at the scene. The South West of England has more dog attacks of this kind than anywhere else in the country – last year, farm animals worth hundreds of thousands of pounds were severely injured or killed by dogs, according to NFU Mutual. The hope is these new DNA test kits will recue the number of dog attacks. </p><p>Presenter = Caz Graham Producer = Rebecca Rooney</p>

  • 12/06/24 - Cereals 2024, the arable event

    <p>Post-Brexit trade barriers are leaving the UK behind when it comes to introducing new varieties of crops - according to the British Society of Plant Breeders. Anna Hill reports from the arable event, Cereals 2024, where seed breeding is centre stage.</p><p>After one of the wettest years on record left many farmers have been struggling to get out into the fields to plant or spray crops...but new drone technology could help - making it possible to spray on land that's still too soft to put heavy machinery on.</p><p>And away from the show, we visit a Welsh livestock farm to find out how vets and farmers are working together to reduce the use of antibiotics.</p><p>Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons</p>

  • 11/06/24 - Graphene from slurry, bluetongue and vet recruitment

    <p>In a world first, methane from slurry on a dairy farm in Somerset is being broken down and turned into hydrogen gas and graphene. The farm involved is Worthy Farm, which hosts the Glastonbury Festival. It already has an anaerobic digester which uses slurry from their dairy cows to make methane which is used to make electricity, and now also used to make graphene. We find out how it all works.</p><p>Last year tens of thousands of sheep in the Netherlands died after contracting bluetongue - a virus transmitted by biting midges. Famers in England are being warned to be vigilant for signs of the disease, and scientists at the Pirbright Institute in Surrey are studying midges to try to predict what might happen this summer.</p><p>And a shortage of vets means recruiting can be a challenge - and it can be even harder for practices in remote areas. We visit from practice in Fort William in the West Highlands who are finding it difficult to recruit a new member of staff.</p><p>Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons</p>

  • 10/06/24 Calls for a bigger farming budget, closure of another Cornish fish market, farm vets.

    <p>Farmers need more money - so says the National Farmers' Union which says the incoming Government should increase the agriculture budget. Over the next few weeks as well as hearing from politicians about what they propose for farming, the environment and rural communities, we're also going to hear from rural and wildlife groups about what they think incoming MPs should be focusing on. Starting with the NFU which launched its manifesto at the end of last year. </p><p>Fishermen in Looe say the closure of the Plymouth Fish Market is a disaster for their industry. Now the day catch has to be sent around 30 miles further, to Brixham Harbour for auction. The Looe Harbour Commissioners are trying to help the fishermen by transporting the fish to Brixham.</p><p>Our topic for the week is vets. While they'll still be involved in a emergency, the role of a farm vet has changed a lot over the years. They now work with farmers on whole herd health. But that doesn't make the job any easier and as we'll hear this week recruiting vets in rural areas can be a challenge.</p><p>Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.</p>

  • 08/06/24 - Farming Today This Week: UK pollinators, bark beetle and NI water pollution

    <p>Spruce trees may not be viable in the UK in the long term because of a pest which is now in the country. Restrictions on spruce trees have been extended after spruce bark beetles were found in East Anglia. The beetle was first found the the UK in 2018 and areas of the South East of England have been under restriction - that has now been extended to cover much of Norfolk and Suffolk. In the longer term, foresters may have to look for alternatives to Spruce.</p><p>A chicken producer in Northern Ireland has breached environmental laws repeatedly, but not faced prosecution. An investigation into water pollution by BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight found that Moy Park, Northern Ireland which supplies chickens throughout the UK and Europe, has breached laws on more than 500 occasions.</p><p>And pollinators are very important to farmers - pollinating crops from apples to oil seed rape and field beans - and so are worth millions to the UK economy. But across Europe, numbers are declining. The UK’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee has found that, as of 2022, there had been a 24% decrease in pollinator numbers compared with 1980. We visit several farms where efforts are being made to increase their numbers.</p><p>Presented by Charlotte Smith Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons</p>

Agri Assist

  • In the know: Our summary of the impending changes to direct support that Brexit will bring.
  • In the know​​​​​​​: The Government announces that levels of farm debt are rising. Some fare better than others.
  • In the know​​​​​​​: Feed-in Tariff to close.
  • In the know​​​​​​​: Read our summary of the recent case of Moore v Moore that is another cautionary tale about proprietary estoppel.
  • In the know​​​​​​​: Read our summary of the recent case of Wild v Wild, which concerns whether or not an asset is owned by a partnership or an individual partner.
  • In the know​​​​​​​: The law regarding plant nurseries and national non-domestic rates is clarified.
  • In the know​​​​​​​: Read our summary of the recent case of Gee v Gee, concerning proprietary estoppel.
  • Agri Assist launches In the know​​​​​​​ to keep those working in the rural sector up to date with the latest cases and relevant issues.
  • ... as is! Our new sister website aimed at helping farms and rural businesses is here at
  • Agri Assist is born. We are delighted to launch our site dedicated to helping rural businesses in financial difficulty.