BVD infection still circulating in NI

There was an increase in the number of animals that tested positive for BVD during post-mortem examinations in NI last year, according to new figures from AFBI.

Sean Fee from AFBI said that the annual total had been reducing since the start of the compulsory BVD programme in 2016, but last year’s increase shows that the virus is still circulating on local farms.

“Almost 80% of the BVD virus positive cases occurred in the final quarter of 2020 from October to December, and of these final quarter positive cases, just over 46% were pneumonia cases,” he said.

Animals that test positive for BVD at post-mortem can be either transiently infected or persistently infected with the virus.

Transiently infected animals pick BVD up after birth and usually recover, whereas persistently infected animals are infected in early pregnancy and shed the virus throughout their life.

New rapid phosphate test for soils

A new test for phosphate levels in soils which delivers results within 20 minutes is being developed by scientists at Rothamsted Research in England.

The test kit, which was produced by Cornwall-based firm Vital Spark Creative, can be used under field conditions.

“You put a small soil sample into the bottle and mix it with an extraction solution before passing it through a filter,” said the firm’s director Chris Booker.

“You then add various chemicals to get the final result, which is analysed in a colorimeter so the result is easy to read,” he added.

Work is ongoing to get the test available on the commercial market and further research is planned to produce tailored fertiliser recommendations for different crops and soil types.

UFU urges growers to plan ahead

Cereal growers in NI should plan ahead and place orders with merchants well ahead of planting this autumn, the UFU has advised.

In a statement, the union said that along with representatives from Fane Valley, Agrii and DBS Farm Supplies, it was still seeking clarity from DEFRA and DAERA officials on autumn seed availability from Britain.

Under the terms of the NI Protocol, seed must be inspected and a phytosanitary certificate issued before it can move from a third country (Britain) into the EU regulatory zone, which includes NI.

“While the current regulations allow for movement, it is vital that due to the limited seed selection farmers plan ahead and place orders now with their merchants. With forward planning, the UFU and trade representatives are hopeful seed ordered and placed in the system should be delivered on time,” said UFU deputy president William Irvine.

UK tractor registrations see 75% increase

There was a 75% increase in the number of new tractors registered in the UK during May 2021 when compared to the same month last year.

The latest figures from the Agricultural Engineers’ Associaton (AEA) show that 1,103 new tractor registrations were recorded last month.

“With the market facing disruptions due to COVID-19 a year ago, it is no surprise that UK agricultural tractor registrations in May 2021 were higher than they had been 12 months previously,” said Stephen Howarth from AEA.

However, the figure for May 2021 is still slightly higher than normal and runs 10% above the five-year average for the month.

In the first five months of the 2021, there have been 5,371 new tractors registered in the UK. This is 21% higher than the same period in 2020 and is up 7% on the five-year average.

£3m donation to Scottish farm charity