Government funding essential following mixed harvest results
GOVERNMENT must deliver on its promises to spend more on agricultural research if the UK is to produce more and import less, the NFU has argued.
It comes as the union’s 2013 harvest survey revealed torrid weather conditions at the beginning of the season hampered production, leading to a smaller wheat crop.
NFU combinable crops board chairman Andrew Watts said: “A reverse in the decline of spend for agricultural research and developoment is crucial if we are to increase production and impact less on the environment in years to come, particularly if extreme weather events become more frequent.”
Mr Watts said innovation and technology were vital in the fight to keep crops healthy and resilient, yet recently they had been under a ‘sustained and unwarranted attack’.
“The last thing we want is for legislators to regulate the UK and EU out of arable production by undermining access to pesticides and products that will be vital to protect the crops of the future,” added Mr Watts.
The harvest figures released this week show overall wheat yield is up 16 per cent on 2012, at 7.8 tonnes per hectare (3.15t/acre).
However, total production looks set to be much lower than the 13 million tonnes produced last year.
Mr Watts said as a result, Britain should expect to import above-normal volumes of wheat for the second year running, but the high quality meant much more of what has been harvested would be of value to the food industry this year.
Results from the NFU Scotland harvest survey are expected in the next few weeks.
NFUS cereals policy manager Peter Loggie said: “Conditions during the harvest and latter part of the growing season have been favourable and that has certainly boosted people’s mood and morale.”
Wheat results (England)
Yields are up 1 per cent on five year average to 7.8 tonnes per hectare (3.15t/acre). This is 17 per cent up on last year’s average of 6.7y/ha (2.71t/ha)
Area is down 17 per cent on five year average, from 1.81mha to 1.51mha, and down 19 per cent on last year, from 1.86m ha to 1.51m ha