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Farming Today

Podcast Farming Today
Podcast Farming Today

Farming Today


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  • 21/01/22 - Is water pollution being unfairly blamed on farmers, and reducing methane from cattle
    A group of arable farmers in Norfolk, whose land covers 10 thousand hectares along the River Wensum, say they are being wrongly blamed for water pollution. Over the last 18 months the Wensum Group Farmers have employed an adviser to help them farm in a way that reduces pollution from their fields, and take regular samples of water for phosphate and nitrate levels. A report by the government's Environment Agency and Natural England found 30 percent of pollution in the river Wensum was caused by farmed land. Now the farmers' group is challenging the government's model. And we visit a demonstration farm run by Anglo Beef Processors (ABP) - the largest beef processor in Ireland and the UK. They’ve been working to reduce the ‘emissions footprint’ of cattle. Presented by Caz Graham Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons
  • 20/01/22 - Farmers tackling bathing water pollution, silage wrap tax, gene editing and urban goats
    The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has been working closely with farmers for the last 10 years to reduce pollution at bathing sites in Ayrshire - and it seems to be working. We visit one of the farms involved. For the first time farmers are going to be taxed on the plastic they use to wrap their silage bales in and they’re not happy. The Plastic Packaging Tax comes into force on the 1st of April - designed to encourage the use of recycled plastic instead of new plastic packaging. But farmers says that silage wrap is a specialist material - strong and stretchy and able to keep out light and water - and can’t currently be replaced with recycled material. And we hear about ‘Street Goat’ - an urban goat-farming cooperative in Bristol, which runs herds for both milking and meat. The goats have another function when it comes to preserving the city’s wartime heritage. Presented by Caz Graham Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons
  • 19/01/22 - River pollution, Moy Park and Brixham fish market
    The Farming Minister tells us DEFRA is working on a "nutrient calculator" which could help prevent further water pollution from farms and new housing developments. We visit the River Wye, where farmers supplying the chicken company Avara Foods are taking steps to reduce phosphate run off. It comes after campaigners blaming the pollution of the Wye on the increase in poultry units in the catchment. And, last year was a record-breaker for Brixham fish market, with more than 43 million pounds worth of fish coming through. But all is not quite what it seems. Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons
  • 18/01/22 - Dairy bull calves, preventing slurry run off and potato scab
    Around 60,000 newborn male dairy calves are killed each year on farms in Great Britain - according to the AHDB. That’s about 4% of all the calves born to dairy cows - the rest are raised for meat. The industry has made a commitment to stop killing male calves by the end of this year…and the industry group, Ruminant Health and Welfare, says the use of sexed semen will be key. It means, some cows can be inseminated with sexed semen from a specialist dairy bull - to produce only female calves which will then join the dairy herd. Other cows can be inseminated with semen from a beef type bull - and the resulting cross breed calves are worth more on the beef market than a pure dairy bull calf. Manure or slurry is a significant pollutant, especially if it gets into waterways. Wessex Water is working with farmers to reduce the amount of phosphates in the Brinkworth Brook - a tributary of the Bristol Avon. We visit one of the 60 farms taking part. And, retailers won’t accept potatoes with scab - a disease that makes them look blistered, although they're still fine to eat. No chemicals will prevent scab, but scientists at the John Innes Centre in Norwich have been testing hundreds of strains of Pseudomonas bacteria, found naturally in the soil, that protect potatoes against this disease. They are now working on developing a soil bio-addition full of the best protective bacteria, to prevent scab from happening. Presented by Anna Hill Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Heather Simons
  • 17/01/2022 Pig farmers in crisis, but production is up; farm pollution
    UK pork production is up: new government figures for last year show a 4% increase on production in 2020, to just over a million tonnes. Regular listeners who have heard pig farmers on this programme talk about how shortages of staff in abattoirs have forced them to kill pigs on farm, pigs which then can’t go into the food chain, may wonder how an industry in crisis can have a record year - it's the highest production level since 1999. We ask how a how a year of backlogs on farms fits with record production levels. All this week we're looking at pollution from farming, both causes and solutions. Today we hear from Professor Penny Johnes from Bristol University who studies the impact of food production on rivers and the sea. Presented by Charlotte Smith and produced by Beatrice Fenton.

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