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Vice President's Blog 23 May 2017

Scotland’s livestock farmers should be joining their arable colleagues and getting behind our campaign for the reauthorisation of the herbicide glyphosate writes NFU Scotland Vice President Martin Kennedy.

And that means getting our MEPs on side.

There are sound economic and environmental reasons why #glyphosateisvital to every grassland unit in Scotland.

At home, in Highland Perthshire, one of our biggest issues when trying to establish any crop is the endless task of having to lift stones after every pass of the field, that's provided the plough is still in one piece when the field is finished. 
This prompted me four years ago to change systems and purchase a New Zealand-developed Aitchison direct driller which has been by far the best investment we have made. To get the very best out of this machine requires the use of glyphosate.
 
After testing old fields of grass for pH and applying lime as required, we spray the field with glyphosate, apply the required amount of fertiliser the following day and immediately go in and drill either kale or rape depending on the time of year. 

As the field dies back, the new crop gets the chance to establish with very minimal weed challenge. The following year, after the crop is eaten off by lambs, the field is sprayed off again and direct drilled with new grass. This has the advantage of the new grass being drilled into the most fertile part of the soil with the added benefits of the sheep manure. 

In a dry year, this method has the advantage of moisture retention and in a wet year allows you to sow in conditions that would not allow if worked up ground became wet. Crops are now established with much less back ache and expense. It's maybe not for every situation but it's made a big difference to us.
 
There is also a very valid carbon benefit. Because we are no longer ploughing or cultivating, our carbon release has been reduced dramatically. That means there are solid environmental reasons for the reauthorisation of glyphosate.
For a grassland farmer like me, this whole process has totally changed how I establish new crops and would not be possible without the use of glyphosate.

As the EU decision to re-authorise glyphosate approaches later this year, we are calling on all Scottish farmers to get the message out on how important this plant protection product is and why it must be re-authorised for a full 15 years, including for use pre-harvest.
 
If you want to get behind it, and contact your MEP, details on NFU Scotland’s #GlyphosateIsVital campaign is at: https://www.nfus.org.uk/glyphosate.aspx

Author: Martin Kennedy

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About The Author

Martin Kennedy

Martin Vice President of NFU Scotland and is a tenant farmer in Highland Perthshire and farms with his wife Jane and three daughters, Jillian, Katrina and Yvonne. They have 600 ewes and 60 cows on the farm rising from 800ft to over 2,500ft. Martin served two years as Highland Perthshire branch chairman, before representing East Central region on the LFA committee in 2009. Martin then went on to be vice chairman then chaired the committee for three years. He has served as Vice President of NFUS for two years and is currently sitting on his third.

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