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FUNGAL FUN - 23/02/2005

One last word on the recent ‘soot deposits on crops’ correspondence in recent months from DERRICK HUNT… Organic farm supporters beware!

From the revised photographic caption [in the last letter on the ‘soot’], I now understand this to be a USA problem. Therefore, I would like to make the following observation:

When visiting crop circles in Wiltshire, the additional opportunities such visits give me to botanize, affords me much interest and pleasure. On the subject of fungal ergot, I have observed on verges in Wiltshire, the spore bodies, ie. 'soot,' emerging from wild grass seedheads that have been parasitised by the ergot fungus. Therefore, it is true to say that there is a reservoir of ergot infection in the UK too, although I understand that weather conditions can be decisive in determining levels of infestation.

Whilst, like many others, I am concerned about the adverse environmental effects of excessive agrochemical usage in modern agricultural and horticultural systems, we should remain aware that a policy of no usage of such chemicals carries its own set of risks.

There are risks associated with all human activity and that includes 'organic' farming. In truth, all monocultures are unnatural, and in that dubious sense, 'non-organic'!



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