Every week Farmers Weekly highlights a selection of useful or entertaining websites to help you make the most of all the agricultural information there is on the internet.

Below is a collection of the sites we have recommended. Some of the links are videos, while others will take you to pages offering detailed advice on issues such as NVZs or cloning.

Window on the Web:

USA forecasts:

Each year the United States Department of Agriculture makes 10-year economic projections for its food and agriculture sector. The commodity projections are used to forecast farm program costs and to prepare for the President’s budget. But they make fascinating reading for UK farmers too. The most recent report (2006-2015) forecasts that growth in the food use of wheat will slow over the next decade as consumers change their diets to reduce carbohydrate intake. Take a look at : http://www.ers.usda.gov/Features/baseline/baseline2006/

Fallen stock collectors:

Trading Standards officers in some counties have reported a recent rise in investigations on farms where dead stock has not been disposed of properly. To help producers keep to the rules, the National Fallen Stock Company has introduced a new facility on its website that allows people to find their nearest NFSS collector – even if the person searching is not a member of the scheme. To take a look, go to www.nfsco.co.uk and click on “Find NFSS Collectors” on the menu bar. Type the farm postcode and the species which requires collection and a list will be presented containing the collectors who provide a service along with their phone and fax numbers.

Crazy Dave:

A video of man overtaking his father as they both drive their tractors and trailers home has becomes an unlikely hit on the internet. Crazy Dave – as he has been dubbed – gives a hilarious commentary as he eases past his Dad as if he were a Grand Prix driver. It is slightly questionable from a safety point of view (just how has he filmed it?) but very funny! Have a look for yourself at http://www.tiny.cc/tractor

Fischer Boel blog:

EU agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has started her own “blog” on the internet. In her first posting she says that globalisation is a reality and there are producers all over the world queuing up to sell their food to European consumers. “But I don’t believe that globalisation is something to be feared. For me, it presents our excellent farmers and food companies with huge opportunities. To see the blog and add your comments go to: http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/fischer-boel

Biofuels blog:

Want to know what is going on with biofuels in the rest of the world? Simon Robinson’s Biofuels Blog gives you a fascinating insight into the global biofuels market – particularly what is going on in the US. For example, it recently highlighted a New York Times article predicting that up to 50% of the US corn crop could be used in bioethanol in the future. Simon is a full time journalist who has been writing about chemicals and polymers for nearly 20 years. His blog can be found at http://www.icis.com/blogs/biofuels/

Country car:

It is sometimes useful to pick someone else’s brain when it comes to car buying and maintenance issues. The Volvo Owners Club website has over 16,000 members and all are keen to discuss any aspect of owning a Volvo. Visit http://www.volvoclub.org.uk/forum/index.php Audi enthusiasts can also be found online at http://www.audi-forums.com/

Wind turbines:

Love them or hate them wind turbines are dramatic-looking things. But have you ever seen one on fire? Wind turbines rotate at 60-80rpm and that creates a lot of heat in the gearbox behind the fibre-glass blades. Add to that an oil leak and you have a rather large firework.” Visit http://www.tiny.cc/turbine

Pet names:

Need some help naming a new cat or dog? Australian website Bow Wow Meow has thousands of suggestions, including names that you can choose if you are have a pair of animals rather than just one. ie Adam & Eve, Gin & Tonic You can also look up the meaning of your pet’s name.  Have a look at http://www.bowwow.com.au/search/index.asp

Fertiliser security:

The devastation that a fertiliser-based bomb can cause cannot be over-estimated. Even in relatively small quantities, ammonium fertiliser-based explosives can cause a great deal of destruction. Many of the most notorious terrorist attacks of the last 15 years were carried out using fertiliser as a base. This includes the IRA’s 1996 attack on Manchester City Centre which was caught on film and can be viewed at http://www.tiny.cc/manchester

Foot-and-mouth:

Farmers Weekly Interactive is an important source of archive information about the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak. But another site that is well worth a look is http://www.warmwell.com which probably has the most comprehensive collection of letters, witness accounts and comments about the handling of the disease outbreak that can be found anywhere. Set up near the beginning of F&M the site has been updated nearly every day during the past nearly five years. The site does take some navigating but is well worth a look.

FSA blog:

The Food Standards Agency’s chief scientist, Andrew Wadge, has recently started a blog on the agency’s website. Over the past month he has blogged on issues such as food from cloned animals and the traffic light labelling scheme. Responding to the media debate about organic food he wrote that the agency was neither for it or against it. “We’re guided very much by what the science says. We recognise the important role it plays in providing choice for consumers, but the balance of current scientific evidence doesn’t support the view that it’s more nutritious or safer than conventional foods.”
To read the blog visit: http://www.fsascience.net/

Caravan sites:

Do you know your dinette from your Zig unit? Entering the world of caravanning will introduce you to a whole new world of confusing jargon – but help is at hand. The Caravan Club has a useful glossary of caravanning terms, which should make it easier for you to converse with your customers! For more visit: http://www.tiny.cc/caravan PS A dinnette is a seating area, while a Zig unit is the trade name of a popular unit of electrical control panel.

Animal cloning:

With talk of cloning in the farming and national press, why not brush up your knowledge on what a clone is? http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/units/cloning/ explains cloning in practical detail, explores myths and answers many questions surrounding what is or isn’t a clone.

NVZs:

With much of the country now in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, advice to help farmers understand what needs to be done to use nitrogen fertilisers and manures responsibly is available at http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/water/quality/nitrate/help.htm

Cheese webcam:

Bored with this year’s Celebrity Big Brother? Well, you could be tuning into something even less interesting…West County Farmhouse Cheddar has trained a webcam on one if its cheeses, so consumers can watch it mature live over the next year. The action is limited. Viewers logging onto http://www.cheddarvision.tv , will find a large cheese sitting on a shelf, surrounded by other cheeses. But that is about it. It hasn’t stop people though – which suggest as a marketing ploy it is proving successful. So far 29,945 people have visited the site.

Animal health:

Keep up to date with ground-breaking animal health research by having a look at the SAC’s research page. Focusing on improving and maintaining animal health and welfare while maximising farm profits, the website offers the latest advice. Visit
http://www.sac.ac.uk/research/animalhealth

Agronomy advice:

For growers looking for more detailed husbandry advice for peas and beans, try the PGRO’s website to download a copy of the organisation’s Pulse Agronomy Guide 2007. See http://www.pgro.org/agronomy_guide/agron_guide.shtml

 

Have you got a website or webpage that you want to recommend. Let us know on our forums.