It seemed ironic that while the country is so wet, I have had my usual winter job of refilling our irrigation reservoirs. This involves a small diesel-powered pump sending water from the local Drainage Board drain across the field to the reservoir.

It basically looks after itself, apart from a daily visit to note the water meter reading and refuel the pump from an elderly fuel bowser.

Unfortunately, someone took a fancy to this old bowser and although it was built for tractor towing, they broke through a locked gate, and made off with it across the frozen fields one night using a 4×4 truck.

This is of course infuriating, but I had some mild satisfaction knowing that the said bowser has a bit of an issue with sediment floating around inside it, and without the right filter which they did not take, or at least 24 hours standing stationary before use, the thieving individuals concerned would not do well with the modest quantity of diesel left inside.

I have just returned from a fantastic trip to Germany as a guest of Bayer CropScience. The journey started badly with sadly unavoidable hold-ups on the trains from Whittlesey to Stansted, nearly three hours of delay at Stansted airport due to a dusting of snow, and a minibus breakdown in Cologne.

With these issues behind us, we then had an excellent couple of days looking at the impressive Bayer CS operation at Monheim. The visit included fascinating insights into the discovery and development of substances, formulation, regulatory process, application technology and a wider overview of the diverse global Bayer business.

I was fortunate to enjoy the company of a great bunch of fellow farmers on the trip. We all came back very impressed with the Bayer operation and grateful to our hosts who looked after us so well.


Philip Bradshaw grows cereals, sugar beet and potatoes on 300ha of fenland and other soil types at Flegcroft Farm, Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire

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