In my last foreword, there was mention of Epsom Racecourse losing a day of racing due to a chafer infestation. Contrary to what the course put out for general consumption, they had indeed been using the emergency approved Acelepryn to curb the problem. Unfortunately, it didn't work as well as had been hoped, but we would like to apologise to the Clerk of the Course and the groundstaff, who undoubtedly worked around the clock to try and get the meeting on.
But it does highlight the constant fight that we all now face with the lack of good controls available to stave off pests and diseases.
By the time you read this, the House of Commons will have voted on the Brexit deal (or not, as it turns out. Ed.). Forgetting the claims and scaremongering made by both leave and remain in the run up to the referendum - such as £350m that would go into bolstering our NHS, house prices will plummet and unemployment will soar - most people that I have spoken to about leaving wanted decision making and sovereignty returned to our shores.
From an industry perspective, the legislation that has affected the widespread revocation of chemicals is now decimating our ability to do our jobs properly. We clamour to look at the alternatives, and there is indeed merit in producing a balanced soil food web that, in turn, keeps a healthy strong sward more resistant to disease. Hopefully, we will have some new additions to our armoury for pest control in the near future.
With the financial and political strains of life continuing, we could have hoped for a better year of weather, but for 2018 this was sadly against us too. The cold and wet winter, followed by a late and short spring that became a long dry summer, created many problems for us all and, for many of us, it will be next spring before we can aim to be back on track.
There is much debate (G20) about trying to halt the acceleration of global warming and plenty of predictions to our future weather patterns, that potentially could become devastating to parts of our planet. With a growing global population that needs to eat, leading to increasing livestock and methane and the deforestation of the planet for growing crops, we also have large emerging industrial nations (India and China) adding substantial CO2 emissions. Are we actually going to be able to stop and/or reverse this trend?
Regardless of whether it's possible, we will have to adapt, for sure, if the predictions are correct, and deal with more extreme weather going forward.
For the last fifteen years, we have seen a migration northward of pests, such as chafers, reaching Scotland as the climate becomes milder. The fact remains that the evidence shows we are going to enjoy warmer, drier summers and wetter winters, and that means there will be more pests and diseases that we will have to come to terms with.
However, despite these rather depressing thoughts, I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and I wish you the very best for 2019.