Thursday, 20 June 2013

Helping to knit together a green Jersey

Jersey Royal potatoes - can only sold as such when grown on Jersey!

I spent the day on Jersey yesterday, discussing ways to progress their new Stewardship scheme that only came into being in 2005. Jersey Royal potato growers are keen to “green up” the way they grow this important and profitable crop on the island, which covers 18,000 vergees (2.25 vergees to the acre!) of land each year. Much of the crop is grown under plastic and the earliest seed potatoes (and therefore most profitable) are planted on southern facing slopes in December and January and harvested in March! This can then be followed by a spring sown crop, meaning that much of the land is annually double cropped.
The key problem is that the island is only 9 by 5 miles and has a population of 100,000 – so land is really at a premium. They also have more cars per capita than any other country in the world!! Add to this the vital grassland area, kept in place to produce the other well known produce of the island – delightful Jersey cows (25 herds of around 3,000 head) and the milk, cream and ice cream that come from them and you begin to see that conservation can easily get squeezed out! Oh, also don’t forget tourism of course – that is pretty demanding too!
Anyway, we hope to trial some new ideas to see how they fit in with the rotation of crops and other demands on the land. If everyone is up for it, and they certainly seem to be, I’m sure the wildlife can be catered for as well as everything else!

A Jersey cow on Jersey - such pretty animals!

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