June 2011 - Posts
As regular Mudhound readers will know (are there such things??) We here at Farm Services have what is probably an unhealthy interest in the old clay drains we dig up. I understand that this may seem strange but I guess when you constantly dig them up you only have to be slightly inquisitive to start wondering how they were laid, and why were they design in that way.
That said, this example of what I mean.
This clay drainage tile came to our collection via Hugh Hanmer, and is unusual as it is conical; the diameter at one end is larger than the other. I presume this was done to allow the drains to be joined together, which makes sense, sliding the tile inside the next is an easy way to make a connection, however it does throw up a problem, surely it is very difficult to maintain an accurate level if the tiles are not laid flat in the bottom of a trench? I don’t think it would be that big a problem on a steep grade but on a shallow drain it must be an issue. Also the drains would have to be laid the right way round, so the water flows down the joins or else the connection would trap slit and potentially block the drain.
This is a later drain which I suspect solves the connection issues a little better than the tile shown above.
Here the clay tile has a flat bottom and a collar into which the next tile can be slotted.
Whilst I understand the need to join the tiles together, I can’t help thinking what a hassle it must have been to install. Presumably a bloke had to stand at the back of a trenching machine individually placing each tile in the correct position. It must have been a mindlessly dull job and hard work too, one tile does not weigh much, but lift and placing hundreds during the day must have left your hands aching! We have it easy these days.
Here's a picture or two of the pipe store...
A couple of hundred rolls of pipe, all to be buried once harvest is over
The timing of this blog seems off, but yesterday I watched a presentation about flooding and the likely increase in rainfall in the future. With many expecting reduced yields due to the spring drought, the temptation to scoff is hard to resist, but I was assured that reliable models are predicting increases in rain fall as well as temperature over the next one hundred years. The presentation was mainly about the effect this would have on storm water sewers and the need to protect housing from flooding, but my mind focused on the consequences for agriculture.
The speaker explained that unusual weather patterns would become more common, temperatures would increase and that the total amount of rainfall would increase in winter, whilst in summer the amount of rainfall would remain constant but the intensity would increase (meaning more high downfalls spaced further apart).
To my mind the level of increases were surprisingly high, the model predicted a 20% increase in rain fall from 2025 to 2055. The stats came from something called FCDPAG3, which is the flooding and costal defence appraisal guidance from Defra. The confidence the speaker had in these models seemed fool hardy; predicting the weather is something we have not mastered yet as far as I can tell. I found it a bit alarming, it’s quite a large increase in a relatively short time.
On the face of it more rainfall should encourage people to invest in land drainage, but it’s more complicated than that. Land drainage is a capital investment for the future and people need to be confident in the future to invest, uncertainty is bad for everyone. In addition, if crops fail due to a severe summer storm, our clients will have less to spend. Like everyone else we will have to adapt and change to fit in with the environment in which we work.
At first this post may sound like a blatant and self serving plug, but hang on in there...
A post from the Mudhound was published in the paper version of the Farmer’s Weekly, it is to be found in the opinion section. Next to it was a letter from a reader called Dick Lindley, which caught my attention. If I’m honest I normally pass over the readers’ letters, perhaps that is a bit of a mistake, the gist of the letter argued that it was madness to be reducing the amount of arable land used for food production at a time when high food prices are causing so much pain especially to those in hunger. I have no idea if the figures quoted are accurate and I dare say that critics would contend that as a farmer Mr. Lindley is hardly neutral in this argument, however what is true is that there are great pressures on land used for food production. Environmentalist are campaigning for more land to be used for increasing biodiversity and wildlife habitats, Bio-fuels are increasingly being grown, land is being used for infrastructure like the new high speed train link to Birmingham and the other day the question of building houses on green field site was mentioned on the news due to the huge demand for housing. Without stating the obvious land is a limited resource, I can’t see how it is possible that this issue will gentle go into the night. I’m convinced that how land is used will become an even larger, mainstream political issue.
Here at the Mudhound we’re not too keen on blatant boasting or showing off, however having said that here’s a bit of bragging...
I passed my NEBOSH general certificate in health and safety and I got a credit!
Going to college every Friday for thirteen weeks was, if I’m honest, a right pain the in the, well you know how that cliché ends, but I’m very pleased to have passed.
On a serious note it does mean that another box has been ticked for the company. Health and safety is very important, the last thing we want is anyone to be hurt by our actions, and as everyone knows there’s no avoiding the paper work which goes with it.
Hey I’m just glad I don’t have to do re-sits.
Rustle around in the cupboard which no one has been anywhere near for years and it’s amazing what you can find. I’m officially re-naming it our history cupboard or junk cupboard if you want to be mean!
The pictures show another world as far as I’m concerned: excavators with wire rather than hydraulics, trenching machines with cutting wheels rather than chains, and perhaps the biggest change of all, health and safety. The picture posted on the 24th May shows a trencher working on a school field with the kids using the play area in the background; it ain’t like that these days!
I’m running out of photographs from my first foray, just this one showing a trencher about to be moved and this invoice showing the cost of a new tractor in January 1970, forty one years ago.