Balance

The fantastic weather the last few days has helped to dry off the waterlogged fields and with luck, it will stay that way for a few more days.

This morning after the dog walk was driving through the village and got behind a tractor with a slurry tank. Did manage to get the camera and fire off one shot through the car window but it was not much good. A bit depressing as I thought I might have my Blip for today.

For this evenings dog walk, took the camera along but had little hope of finding anything when suddenly I spotted Farmer Müller heading our way in his newly acquired Deutz tractor, towing a large muck spreader.

In the foreground, a large piece of silage plastic covering which has been blown from another farmers poorly tended silage heap. In high winds it gets blown in to the Müllers hedge, then across the field where their organically held cows and calves feed for much of the year, then on to this strip of grass the Müllers use to collect fresh grass for the cows and finally in to the river before going in to the Danube, Med, Atlantic, Pacific.

The plastic and several other pieces, have been pinned down, I suspect by a passerby, in the hope the farmer responsible collects his rubbish. I posted a video on Facebook last week, showing the mass of plastic being shredded by the winds and the amount trapped in the hedge, also in the hope of action. Neither measure has helped. 

I was desperately trying to concentrate on getting a photo in the poor light while making sure that the dogs stayed next to me, that I can't be 100% sure which Farmer Müller it was. But I am pretty sure that from the very friendly wave it was young Farmer Müller and not the equally friendly older Farmer Müller whose birthday makes up the numbers on the tractor number plate. It's Farmer Müller seniors form of making sure everyone remembers, similar to Facebook "It's XYZs birthday today, why not send him a message". The advantage is he gets to advertise it 364 days a year.

I am never sure of what the latest rules on slurry and muck are. Muck is less restrictive than slurry mainly because it needs time to.get in to the soil and start working, whereas slurry is almost instantaneous. There are new rules again from 1st January causing more headaches for the farmers.

The months that slurry can be brought out has been cut back further and they are being required to have larger storage tanks to get over the holding period. It could well be that the slurry tank this morning was simply transporting a load out of the cow shed to a storage tank elsewhere. I didn't see Farmer Müller bringing out any muck either but possibly testing the equipment. Although I suspect muck may be OK at the moment as no snow lying.

Always a difficult balancing act: if you want milk, yoghurt, cheese, beef etc etc you have to have the by-products. Slurry and I suspect muck even more so, are valuable for the structure of the soil and the worms and insects that feed on it and has to be more desirable than chemical fertilizers.

However quite justifiably, many are concerned about the nitrates being washed in to rivers and our water supplies. To reduce this risk, the laws are now getting tighter and tighter to ensure slurry is only brought out when the soil and the meadows can make use of it. And the methods becoming more restrictive so that by 2020 we won't see any more of those plumes on arable land and by 2025 on meadows. Naturally though needing huge investment in new machines

By coincidence, in the weekly farming programme on Bavarian TV tonight, exactly the slurry problem was one of the topics. I can understand some of the farmers concerns about certain less logical parts of the legislation but in fact it wasn't a storm of protest.  Another item the move to bigger dairy herds but tighter animal welfare requirements. To get around the cost of labour, more milking robots and feeding machines costing 100,000s each.

The Müller family are organic based and are as much concerned about the environment as the average Green "realist". This weekend, Germany's Green Party are holding elections to elect their new head or better heads.

Part of their philosophy is to have two heads, one female, one male. And of these two, one should be from the "Realist" wing and the other from the "Hard Left, Ban Everything" wing, the basis of the original party. Having been part of coalition governments in the last few decades and very nearly again now under Merkel, the realist side is becoming stronger.

Only three candidates have put themselves forward and the two favourites are a woman and a man, however they are both from the realist wing. The third candiadate is female and hard wing. It looks like they may "adapt" their policy should the popular candidates win.

Finding a way to improve matters, a consencus of what is good, is something the Germans are pretty good at. They tend to go at such issues with a positive, factual, down to earth approach. Yes I know sometimes when money, bonuses and business are at stake, it doesn't work that well!

There are other countries that get highly emotional, lose all sense of reality and for the sake of ideaological nonsense, throw the baby out with the bath water rather than helping to improve matters and find a sensible balance.

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