Neonics, Cauliflowers, Sustainable farming study
A widely-used pesticide linked to harming bees is facing an EU-wide ban. Neonicotinoids - or neonics - are chemicals used to coat a seed before it's planted, so when the plant grows, it's toxic to pests that munch on the seedlings.
Three varieties of neonics are currently banned for use on flowering crops, such as oilseed rape and sunflowers - after research showed they harmed bees collecting pollen. Today, EU member states are meeting to discuss extending that ban to all outdoor crops, including non-flowering plants as well. There are concerns that the neonics can survive for months in the soil and get taken up by other flowering plants.
Defra secretary Michael Gove has previously said he would support such a ban - while farmers say such a move would severely affect British sugar beet production.
So what did farmers do before neonics, and what alternatives are available today? Anna Hill asks Dr Andy Evans is from the SRUC, Scotland's Rural College.
This week Farming Today is talking brassicas - and some of those veg have seen changing fortunes. Not so long ago, the humble cauliflower was being passed over in favour of trendy vitamin-rich broccoli and kale, but the fashion for so-called 'clean eating' has made it a star ingredient, and sales are now growing.
Cauliflower is in season year round, with around 300 million grown each year in the UK. Sarah Swadling's been to Cornwall - a centre of winter cauliflower production - to watch this year's harvest, with David Simmons from Riviera Produce.
A global research project is underway, to find the key to creating sustainable agricultural systems. International researchers, including a group from Cambridge University, are studying areas such as biodiversity, greenhouse gases, worker satisfaction - anything that can contribute to sustainable farming. Donald Broom is an emeritus professor of animal welfare at Cambridge University Veterinary School; he's been researching land and water usage in beef production for the study - and says initial results suggest the systems previously thought to be most efficient, may not offer the best solution.