2 December - Check for damage on your vent gear

Vent gear: Grease up your vent gear. Vent motors, racks and bearings can get damaged during the busy summer months through lack of maintenance. Make sure that your staff use safe working methods when carrying out any work on these high pieces of equipment. Health & Safety Executive leaflet AIS12 provides good advice for glasshouse work.

Disease prevention: Apply Rovral WG, Octave or Switch to protected crops during the winter period as a low-level disease prevention. Use an air-assisted sprayer plus a wetting agent to get good coverage. Alternatively, apply compost tea once a month.

Hedges: Spray conifer hedges along roadways monthly throughout the winter with Wiltpruf S600 to put a protective coating over susceptible needles. This should help to reduce salt damage.

Woody shrub herbicides: Winter applications of Skirmish (not on buddleja, escallonia, hebe or veronica), Sumimax (not on escallonia, hebe or vinca) or lenacil will provide good post-emergence control of a range of annual and perennial weeds.

Cold stores: Keep a close watch on temperature and humidity levels in cold stores. Consider spraying stored material with Rovral WG to protect against fungal growth on stems and foliage.

Spraying: Make sure that leaves dry off after spraying protected crops for maximum control effect. Apply products in the morning to give foliage time to dry off during the day. Cold fogging can get a pesticide into a crop using low water levels.

Grant scheme: The recent launch of the replacement of the Rural Development Programme for England - the Farm & Forest Improvement Grant - will provide grants of up to £25,000 for projects that focus on energy saving, reducing dependence on artificial fertilisers through better use of manures, improving soil quality and saving and recycling water. The first round of the scheme is open from 16 November until 17 January 2012.

Revocations: SuSCon Green Soil Insecticide loses its approval on 31 December. Valbon (MAPP 12603) and Rhizopon A (powder and tablets) are also revoked on 31 December but are replaced by Valbon (MAPP 14868) and the re-registered Rhizopon AA and B products.

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