IN response to Ben Boothman’s article on arable farming (“Knowing the drill on autumn sowing”), I have great sympathy for UK farmers and am very aware of the precarious nature of the profession as many of my family are in the business.

But it is not just “fashion” to say that we should be concerned about the state of our soil, even if there has been one good year.

How many times each year do I drive through clouds of dust blowing across our roads?

We lose from 1cm to 3cm per year of topsoil and climate change will only make things worse. Why not embrace the vision of “green farming” instead of deriding it?

The use of new technologies such as precision farming, robotic harvesting and no-till planting, when used appropriately, can increase yield and profits, produce healthier crops, and substantially reduce use of fertiliser, pesticides and water as has been shown in many countries, but which have seen only slow uptake in this one.

UK farmers should be welcoming support for environmentally sound practices. Seventy per cent of the land in the UK is agricultural with about 25 per cent arable. Therefore, farmers are in the firing line when it comes to protecting our land.

We should all be lobbying for them to receive required subsidies and fair prices as well as the training and support needed to implement the changes to the industry that will keep our land healthy and prosperous.

Jean McKendree, Westow

Penny dropped?

DR Peter Williams, (Letters, Gazette & Herald, October 17) is right, Cuadrilla has now commenced fracking in Lancashire and one battle - the battle to stop that first well - has been lost.

But make no mistake, just as Dunkirk was a set back for the forces of good, to be followed by renewed resolve and defeat of the enemy, so we hope and pray will Preston New Road herald the beginning of the end for this disgusting industry.

On October 10, during Pickering’s Wartime Weekend, 151 more people signed a national anti-fracking petition.

In the week of the UN report recently, with its stark message “Act now, idiots”, our MP and the new Commissioner for Shale were left in no doubt in the packed Milton Rooms in Malton about the strength of anti-fracking feeling in our area.

We counted only three known dissenters in the hall, one a Third Energy director, another a climate change denier. There may of course have been others unwilling to speak up.

Has the penny dropped? We can but hope.

David Cragg-James, Stonegrave, and Steve Jennings, Pickering

Show me the way

WITH reference to the celebration of the Lady Spring Wood project in the Gazette & Herald, October 17, could it really be for the inclusion of the wheelchair friendly on the springside board walk?

I welcome any member of MNAP committee to demonstrate to me how and where to safely access the boardwalk, with an adult person in a wheelchair at either end.

In this day and age where health and safety and political correctness appear to be of paramount importance, I find it hard to believe that there is no hand/safety rail at the headwall of the culvert at each side of the disused railway embankment with a drop of approximately two metres into the water course below, enroute to the board walk.

I find the approximately 90 metres of excavated trench and post and rail fence at the inlet of the watercourse; known locally as “The Cut” on what was formally the permissive footpath an eyesore, and not in keeping with the local environment.

In the area between Old Malton and the Orchard Fields, there is a distinct lack of public/permissive footpath signage and dog waste disposal bins.

Apart from the replaced tanalised timber bridge connecting the rugby fields footpath to the riverside Ings, I feel the money could have been more wisely spent, had it been divided equally between Malton Hospital and the Air Ambulance Service.

Mike Kitching, Old Malton

Wonderful night

WOW. What a wonderful evening at Malton School’s celebration evening, seeing the delight on the faces of their Year 7 to 9 pupils receiving recognition, as teacher after teacher spoke of effort, enthusiasm, overcoming challenges, helping others in their school as well as academic achievement.

The whoops from their classmates were a delight to hear; with a supportive spirit that society seems to be losing.

It’s refreshing to know all the staff at the school believe in building confidence, encouraging effort and the right attitudes as the key to success alongside striving to be the best they can be.

Sue Jefferson, Malton