March 11 2014 Latest news:
Michael Pollitt, Agricultural editor
Friday, February 14, 2014
Specialist grass seed grower and Norfolk farmer David Hill is putting together an industry aid package to help West Country livestock producers restore their wrecked pastures.
A total of 10 tonnes of grass seed, worth more than £15,000, has been pledged by farmers and the country’s seed merchants in just the past few days.
Mr Hill, of Shipdham, near Thetford, who grows about 500 acres of grass seed on the family’s farm at Bradenham, near Dereham, want to offer some practical help.
“I’ve got some big bags of certified grass seed on the farm.
“We’ve had help from all the merchants in the UK and also the organic seed producers, so we’re hoping to put together 10 tonnes of grass seed to be available to those who need it.
“We will distribute it to farmers through the Royal Bath and West Agricultural Society,” said Mr Hill, who has welcomed the industry’s support.
With most commerial grass seed varieties worth at least £1,500 tonne, farmers will be faced with massive costs to reseed fields, which have been flooded for weeks if not months, he said.
“There’s a lot of people who are in a serious muddle down there. If we can just help a bit, it is better than nothing and it is certainly better than sitting here with your hands folded,” he added.
Once the water has receded the land has dried out, then seed could be sown, probably in April or May.
Mr Hill, who would be giving about five tonnes of grass seed, estimated that if planted at about 20kg per hectare, it could help to re-plant more than 1,250 acres.
“In terms of the area they’ll need, it will be a drop in ocean but at least it is something. I’ve also asked fellow seed growers to support our efforts,” he added.
n Downham Market-based seed breeder, DSV UK, is offering hybrid oilseed rape at cost price to help meet the cost of re-drilling crops when water levels in the Somerset Levels fall.
Managing director Mike Mann hopes suppliers of other inputs will also join forces to help growers in the worst hit areas. “We have all been shocked by the impact the recent bad weather has had on growers in Somerset and know that many hundreds of acres of crops have been ruined.”
n One Norfolk dairy farmer, who also grows beet, has donated 10 tonnes of pulp nuts. Another farmer has matched this donation and the 29-tonne load has been topped up by a merchant.
Holt & District Farmers’ Club had a collection and raised £306 for the Addington Fund.
Poultry giant Bernard Matthews aims to remove its energy costs in two years after securing a £24.5m biomass boiler deal.