Andrew Kerr farms 344ha
(850 acres) in partnership
with his parents and brother
at Wyldingtree Farm, North
Weald, Essex. Cropping is
potatoes, including some
on rented ground, plus
cereals, herbage seed and
FOR me, harvest has lost the gloss of yesteryear. Once eagerly awaited now it seems no more exciting than mowing the lawn, just more expensive.
According to the show going fraternity I cannot be the only person working for nothing. Attendance at most of the summer shows, bar Cereals, is reputedly well down in spite of the lack of events last year. That is a shame because most offer technical help of just the sort needed to help us survive the next few years. Even if the shiny new kit is financially out of reach the good ideas demonstrated can often be adapted and applied using a clapped-out piece of junk pulled from the nettles at home.
I was intrigued to discover Oliver Walstons website the other day. The farm diary section dates back to 1974 and is particularly interesting reading, a poignant reminder of farmings fluctuations in recent times. You can access it at www.thriplow-farms.co.uk
At home we have been busy preparing for the now annual dose of assurance protocol inspections. Apart from the fact that I could do without the hassle at harvest time, I have yet to find a farmer who is genuinely better off as a result of this costly compliance. As usual, we Brits play by the rulebook while everyone else shows a crooked bat. As one friend puts it: "There are lies, damned lies and my crop assurance records". I gather there are plans afoot to make the system even more onerous in future – more jobs for the boys!
Potatoes have received regular doses of blight fungicides and slug pellets. A bonus of the wet weather is reduced use of our ageing "irritators" and associated agro of bursts and breakdowns, which invariably happen at night or weekends.
Finally, the RSPB says skylark populations can be boosted by leaving extra gaps in crops where birds may safely lay their eggs. Looking back at some past tram-lining attempts I have unwittingly been eco-friendly for years. *
Ready for the off: desiccated Shannon oilseed rape will be ready very soon, weather permitting, says Andrew Kerr from Essex.