Archive Article: 1998/07/24 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 1998/07/24

24 July 1998

Wheat harvest started last Sunday with Soissons wheat cut on Colin Rayners Berkshire gravel land. Yielding 6t/ha, protein is 10-11%, hagberg 380, and specific weight is 75kg/hl. Only 3ha were taken – to make way for gravel extraction – but combines will be back in the crop as soon as the rape harvest is finished, probably this weekend, he says.

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Archive Article: 1998/07/24

24 July 1998


&#8226 THE Co-operative Wholesale Society has been fined £4000 and ordered to pay £2508 costs for breaching the terms of a discharge consent at its Llangadog creamery in Wales.

An Environment Agency official said that the consent permits the plant to discharge effluent into the river Towy, with a proviso that the total solid fraction of the discharge is below agreed limits. But last autumn, agency inspectors found the effluent was seven times above the agreed solids limit.

&#8226 CONSUMER confidence in Aberdeen Angus beef and increasing demand from supermarket chains are responsible for a 17% increase in pedigree registrations in the past year, according to breed society chief executive Ron McHattie. The 7347 calves registered in the past year was the highest for 36 years. There was also a 15% increase in the number of society members.

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Archive Article: 1998/07/24

24 July 1998

Making the most of limited water resources is the theme for the Water for Farming event being staged by farmers weekly and Fusion Events at Newark Showground on Tues Nov 10. All the UKs top suppliers of irrigation equipment will be present, profiling the latest hardware and services on offer to improve your irrigation strategy. A detailed seminar programme will also address issues such as licensing, storage and efficient application. For further details, contact Fusion Events (01539-740485).

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Archive Article: 1998/07/24

24 July 1998

Triple trouble… an unusual sight on farm as Simon Newman, farm manager for Hosford Farms, Melcombe Bingham, Dorset is checked out by the latest arrivals at Bramblecombe Farm – a set of triplets. Born by caesarean from a first calved, two-year -old heifer, the triplets are Hereford x heifers and are being reared on-farm.

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Archive Article: 1998/07/24

24 July 1998


VOLUNTARY set-aside land will not need to have been cultivated for the two previous years to qualify for payments, following discussions in Brussels. Last month farm ministers agreed to waive this requirement on compulsory set-aside. This week they asked the commission to extend it to voluntary schemes.

OF the 40,000 food samples tested for veterinary medicine residues last year, 99.5% were clear, according to MAFFs veterinary policy advisors the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. This is a slight improvement on 1996 when residues were detected in 0.8% of foods tested.

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Archive Article: 1998/07/24

24 July 1998

Not long now to the National Sheep Associations early ram sale at Builth Wells. Among those selling at the event on Mon, Aug 3 will be John Davies, seen here with some of his Hampshire Downs. Most lambs from his 300-head commercial ewe flock at Rhydmoelddu, Llandrindod Wells grade 2 or 3Ls. Nearly 700 tups from eight breeds will be on offer at this, the 10th early auction.

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Archive Article: 1998/07/24

24 July 1998

Bring me sunshine… Jim Greenwood, farm manager at the 580ha (1450 acre) Manor of Cadland Estate, Hants, needs a warm spell to ripen his 5ha (12.5 acre) plot of sunflowers before harvest in September. Otherwise the continuing wet weather may cause the plants to rot.

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Archive Article: 1998/07/24

24 July 1998


&#8226 POPLARS could prove a profitable alternative cash crop according to The Mersey Forest project. To attract the maximum grant of £6500/ha land must be taken out of arable production and trees planted at 2m x 4m spacing. Over half the grant is paid in year one, on completion of planting. Establishment typically costs £3000/ha over three years, and crops mature in about 30 years. Outside of community forest areas grants are £600/ha less.

&#8226 HGCAs second crop management booklet, free to cereal levy payers, contains seasonal action plans covering harvest and establishment. It is designed to help growers become more efficient at low cereal prices. It provides a quick summer and autumn check list and identifies further relevant reading (0171-520 3945).

&#8226 GERMAN scientists are reported to have developed a chemical-free method of ridding cereal seed of pathogens. Low energy adjustable radiation is used to avoid damaging the embryo.

&#8226 WAYS to predict potato skin finish and assess tuber quality at various points in the production and storage cycle are among the targets of two new British Potato Council-funded research projects. Total budget is £260,000.

&#8226 PROTECTING glass light fittings is essential for Assured Combinable Crops Scheme approval. The following may help storekeepers find the necessary raw materials.

Fotolec (01842-763752) shatter proof bulbs up to 150W £8.95, fluorescent tubes 2.4m (8ft) £10.56, halogen flood 300W £32.50.

Campbell Environmental Products (0161-7779494), light bulb covers (max 60W) £1.55, PLC lamp 100W £13.50, reusable tubeshield 2.4m (8ft) £11.18, halogen floodlight (230W-500W) £15.15.

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Archive Article: 1998/07/24

24 July 1998


Gerald Murphy

Gerald Murphy runs a 107ha

(275-acre) farm in partner-

ship with his parents in

County Waterford on the

south-east coast of Ireland.

Dairying is the main

enterprise with emphasis on

milk from grass. The mainly

all-grass unit carries 110

Holstein Friesian cows and

also grows forage maize and

cereals for home


THE dull damp summer continues on its merry way. We are getting used to rushing at every job we undertake.

The second cut silage is in the pit, dry against all the odds, having been cut on Jul 13 and 14. The sugars were 2.5-3%, which was not bad given the dull over-cast weather. The nitrates were all low but for one sample which was slightly high at 400.

On the day of cutting the motor in the applicator gave up the ghost and we had a choice of stopping while this was repaired or picking up the grass without the additive. With rain forecast the choice was simple, so apologies to our supplier who made a big effort to get us the additive on time – we will have to wait until next year to see how good it is.

We were forced to cut excess grass on the rented farm. This was wrapped because it is impractical to make conventional silage because of the distances involved. This form of silage-making is a bit more expensive, but when grass is getting ahead of animals, either cow grazing paddocks or on the outside farm it is a good management tool to keep grass quality up without adversely affecting the rotation.

The maize crops seem to be thriving under new sites but maybe they are like the rest of us – longing for a few bright warm summer days before the autumn. Speaking of autumn, the first of the autumn calvers were tubed this morning. How time flies. &#42

John Alpe

John Alpe farms in partnership

with his parents at New Laund

Farm at Whitewell near

Clitheroe in Lancashire.

Besides the tenanted 80ha

(200 acres) at New Laund

Farm, the family own a

neighbouring farm of 36ha

(90 acres), and rent a further

40ha (100 acres). About 60

dairy cows and 60 followers,

500 Swaledale and Mule

ewes and 250 store lambs

are run on the farms. Bacon

pigs are also fed on contract.

JUNE has proved to be a very poor weather month. High rainfall in conjunction with some cold spells has had a large impact and influenced our work schedule significantly.

We have finished shearing, though at times it proved a struggle to gather the sheep and house them with dry fleeces. The flock generally seems to look quite well, both sheep and lambs appear to be thriving, which is more than can be said for the dairy cows. The dreary weather being the culprit for their general poor condition and lack of lustre.

Grass growth in the cow pasture has been slow and a 10 day delay in silaging has meant extra acres for grazing have not been released. This has lead to quite a drop in milk production.

Luckily, nearly all the dairy cows are in late lactation and hopefully the situation will have changed by the time calving gets underway.

Still on a weather theme, Sat Jun 27 brought a violent thunder storm. The following morning we found a horned ewe and lamb casualty that had been struck by lightning under a large Lime tree. Unfortunately it was one of our most valuable ewes, but fortunately we are insured for stock killed by lightning, otherwise this sad story could have been much worse.

We have now finished first cut silage, and instead of mixing sweet and dry absorbent as usual to the clamped grass, this year we added sugar beet which is much cheaper.

Another change from previous years is that we have bought a half share in a Swathwilter, the aim being to try and dry the rows of condition mowed grass more prior to foraging.

It certainly has helped and we are pleased with the job it has done. It also took me down memory lane as 20 years ago we had a Bamford Wuffler for haymaking. When we converted to a silage system, I sold it to a scrap yard for £12. When purchasing our new machine, I noticed many similarities. It is practically the same machine in shape, style, and its intended job, but admittedly it has a few more fancy gadgets and a nice coat of red paint. It also cost a lot more than £12. What goes around comes around. &#42

Dennis Bridgeford

Dennis Bridgeford farms 50ha

(125 acres) at Petley Farm,

about 40 miles north of

Inverness. The farm comprises

of a 480-sow indoor unit

producing 95kg pigs for one

outlet and 85kg pigs for a

more local abattoir. A further

320 sows are run outdoors,

with progeny sold at 7kg.

WHEN you think the pig price has reached the bottom and it cant get much worse, the new contracts hit your desk.

Over the last year we have supplied Halls of Broxburn, now part of the Grampian Food Group, with pigs killing out at 72kg, with a probe up to 14mm for a top-grade pig. Our other outlet has been Munro our local abattoir, which takes 70 to 90 pigs a week, but needs a lighter pig for the fresh meat market.

Both contracts have worked well, allowing us to empty pens and avoid weighing any pigs. Halls, however, have announced a new contract requiring a heavier pig with a drop in probe from 14 to 12mm, and tighter specification. The contract manager of Halls has just been renamed Mr Deduction.

I appreciate the meat trade is going through just as difficult a time as we are, but lets be quite blunt, all they want is cheaper pigs.

Over the past few years, I have no doubt that we have improved the eating quality of pig meat by encouraging ad lib feeding, and adding some Duroc blood. Are we going to put this improvement out of the window to get pigs into the high 70kg weight band, lean and probably tough as well?

If they want cheaper pigs, lets talk about the price and dont mess about with carcass quality. Its a wait-and-see scenario, but it looks like they are going to take over £2 off a bacon pig.

The service shed, built last Oct, has been a great success; there has been no effect on numbers born – if anything conception has slightly improved, and we have managed to control bullying to an acceptable level by sizing sows as they are weaned into deep-bedded pens. The only slight concern is that the odd sow is not drying up well after weaning, with the occasional bad quarter in the udder.

The amount of straw needed has increased with the new shed. But its a cost we must be prepared to pay to keep the supermarket buyers happy – that is until they go to the Continent to buy foreign pig meat out of stalls and fed on meat and bone meal.

We have been trying to reduce production costs, even down to the farm insurance. We have used the same firm of brokers since I started out in business. This year we decided to shop around and the saving has been considerable. &#42

Peter Wastenage

Peter Wastenage, in

partnership with his parents,

farms a 121ha (300-acre)

farm tenanted from Clinton

Devon Estates. He milks

175 cows, rears his own

replacements and grows

40ha (100 acres) of maize

DUE to bad weather and our young beef bulls being over-worked, April and Mays conception rates were disappointing, hence, we have now finished serving cows, using AI to make sure we catch any late returns.

Although at first it might seem like a total disaster, its not, as I intended to drop a month in the calving pattern to now begin on Jan 20. Even so, a lesson has been learned, and if we are to maintain a tight calving pattern bull management is key.

Grass continues to grow well, which is unusual on our soil at this time of the year. However, this and the fact that we tried to carry too much cover has resulted in some paddocks having stemmy growth, which is not being eaten as tightly as I wanted.

To rectify this, weve been mowing paddocks 24 hours before grazing. This has proved to be an excellent management tool with the cows clearing up all the cut grass and the subsequent regrowth is of a superior quality.

Stubble turnips have started to be added to the cows ration. This is providing a welcome second forage, although not entirely necessary at the moment. However, if the turnips are not put in the grazing pattern now the quality will deteriorate by the time we reach the end of the field.

Maize continues to grow well, with the late drilling and lack of heat units I expected the crop to be further behind. The most forward field started to tassle in Royal Show week, so harvest will possibly be no later than usual. Late weed flushes have been bad in a couple of fields, leading to blankets of nightshade in the crop. Although I dont think it will affect this years crop, weed seed build up will have to be dealt with better another year.

Our cow sale seemed to go well. As with any sale, some cows went for more than expected, and some less. My fear was that the cost of advertising, catalogues, selling, washing and clipping would outweigh the selling price we could get privately, but the auctioneers did an excellent job, especially with the current trade. &#42

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Archive Article: 1998/07/24

24 July 1998


&#8226 A QUESTIONNAIRE has been sent by MAFF to all known SLOM 3 milk producers, seeking more details on quota, production and land-use (past and present).

The information is needed as MAFF seeks to reallocate quota in accordance with last years European Court ruling, (Business, Oct 31). SLOM 3 producers who have not yet received a form should contact their local government office, as all claims must be made by Aug 31.

&#8226 LEADING pigmeat processor, Malton Foods, is to close its Stocks Lovell factory at Evesham, Worcs later this year as it strives for greater production efficiency. The slicing plant was acquired in 1996 from Booker, but was unable to expand due to its location. Production will transfer to Winsford and Ashton. &#42

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Archive Article: 1998/07/24

24 July 1998

CHERRY (21) is home from Dublin where she has spent a school year studying for her Masters in English – as a foreign


She loved it: The country, the city, the life – it is buzzing with young people. To help eke out her grant she got a job at the weekends in a pub called The Mad Hatter – quite appropriate as she was studying Lewis Carroll.

Now she is home and planning her next move. Tomorrow she is off to Paris to see about a room having just been accepted to do a teachers training course.

Today she has been banging a hammer through the ceiling in the kitchen.

Abi (19) has finished her double Deug year in theatre and English at Caen and were waiting for her results. In the meantime she is child minding at the Chateau for Mme Dufresnes grandchildren. Yesterday she took a crow-bar to our dining-room beams.

Beth has passed her BAC (Baccalaureat) so will be joining her big sister in Caen at the rentree, meanwhile she has left us for a month to work with a theatre group in Alençon. They are putting on an outdoor piece for tourists. She has escaped the madness we call home.

The whole place is coming down around my ears and, before I take leave of my senses, I am taking leave of my home and family. Tim is re-doing the kitchen.

For the last few years we have been talking about it but have been reluctant to start as it is quite a major job. Our kitchen and dining room are separated by dividing units. The dining room has a beamed ceiling and a floor just like a chess board. The kitchen beams were covered up and the floor is cardinal red tiles. As we are expanding the two the plaster is coming down and both the floors are coming up. Dad Green and Alan are coming over as they are the bricoleurs (DIY buffs) of the family.

We are currently living in the lounge where the new cooker is installed temporarily along with the fridge, dining table and a trolley full of crocks (and the wine!). The sideboard is stuffed with food, its original contents having been boxed and ferried into a barn along with the rest of the kitchen paraphernalia. Yve and friend are here today to dig up the floor and a sandblaster moves in on Saturday – on Sunday I move out.

I am escaping to England ostensibly on a teacher training course, but actually it is a cop out as I am useless in this mess.

I wish I could be like Abi. She just wades in and does what has to be done. One minute she is chivvying at the plaster on the ceiling, then shes making salad for lunch, while Im scratting about in a housecoat over navy trousers (dust!) looking for my books for the next lesson. Never mind – last lesson tomorrow then Im off.

Watch this space!

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Archive Article: 1998/07/24

24 July 1998


Dennis Ford

Dennis Ford farms 384ha

(950 acres) from Home

Farm, Hinton Parva,

Swindon, Wilts. One-third is

owned, two-thirds tenanted

and a small area contract

farmed. Cropping is winter

wheat, barley, rape and

beans, plus spring rape,

linseed and flax

FIRST the good news – we have started harvest! Now the bad -the barley (Fanfare) is 19.5% moisture, the crop is worth about £62/t and, guess what, its raining.

Yesterday, more out of frustration than anything, once the sun (that yellow blob that is supposed to be in the sky) came out to play, we tried to harvest the winter barley. It is standing in the tramlines but flat in between. We had only been round the field three times before it became too damp to carry on.

We have at least managed to get a sample, which Gerald from Group Cereals collected last night to see if there is any chance of a malting premium. Having spoken to him this morning he is full of doom and gloom about it.

The grain is rather small with an uncleaned bushel weight of only 63kg/hl with rather high screenings and nitrogen. We will dry and store it and probably sell into intervention, I hope, from November onwards. At least the combine is shined and set up.

The winter rape was sprayed off seven days ago and apart from the wheelings it is almost impossible to tell that it has been sprayed. The Pronto looks promising, being even over the whole field, and "leaning" nicely.

But the Synergy seems decidedly disappointing. Where the crop went down early in the snow the plants have put out secondary shoots which are still green with yellow flowers on them. The bottom part of the crop has aborted some pods and I am not too hopeful .

All the wheats are still standing, just turning (or is it just disease?) and on the whole look quite well. But the weeds look better. Some fields are due for a glyphosate spray, and we shall be monitoring them closely in the near future. Have a good harvest. &#42

James Hosking

James Hosking farms 516ha

(1275 acres) with his

parents and brother at

Fentongollan, Tresillian,

Truro, Cornwall. Land is

equally split between share

farming, various FBTs and a

tenancy. Crops include

wheat, oats, barley and

daffodils, alongside sheep

and cattle enterprises

LAST month I mentioned that the chlormequat regulator we applied to all the winter cereals seemed to have done its job.

That statement rates with Kevin Keegans during the England v Romania match when, three-quarters of the way through and with England playing particularly well, he said: "Only one team is going to win this game now."

The storms last weekend have laid quite a lot more wheat. The barley and oats seem unscathed so far, but I do not want to tempt providence again.

Wet weather delayed the wheat ear-wash by a week-and-a-half. I was disappointed with the speed septoria developed on the ears, considering we had used strobilurins for both the first two sprays.

I know conditions were exceptional. But according to the glossy brochures and promotional videos, these new fungicides were also meant to be exceptional. I have an uneasy feeling that had we spent the same amount on triazoles the crop might have been better protected.

We have been flat-out lifting bulbs and sending out brassica plants for the past two weeks, so luckily have not had time to dwell on the state of the rest of the crops. The wet, gloomy weather of the past six weeks has put paid to any great harvest expectations.

I had an enjoyable trip to the Royal Show. It is one of the few chances we get to talk to manufacturers and see their new developments. It was also home from home. Cornwall was promoting itself this year, so I was even able to have a pasty for lunch. I should like to congratulate everyone involved with the Cornish exhibit. It was a superb promotion. &#42

Simon Wadlow

Simon Wadlow farms 200ha

(500 acres) at The Croft,

near Bridgnorth, Shropshire.

Key crops are winter wheat

and sugar beet, plus winter

oats, barley, oilseed rape

and beans. Forage maize,

set-aside and pasture make

up the balance

WITHIN a few days of my last writing, the wheat ear spray was completed.

The crop looks well, but with so little sunshine we can only look forward to an average yield and specific weight is a cause for concern.

For the first time since the introduction of IACS, I have had a full acreage inspection. I had measured the set-aside area with a wheel and was quite confident I had got it right. Nevertheless, it was still a relief when the inspectors figures agreed with mine. A mistake with the area could prove very costly.

Harvest this year is going to be more than usually interesting. My next door neighbour and I have each been running our own rather aged combines, barely capable of 120ha (300 acres) each in a difficult season.

We both needed to review how we carry out our harvest. After considering various options we decided to buy a brand new machine between us. At least we can take advantage of the high £ making it significantly cheaper.

Our new combine will have one main driver responsible for maintenance and we will help each other with grain trailers as necessary. We should now have spare combine capacity and be able to do some contract work or increase the area we farm.

I am sure that this project will be of mutual benefit. To remain efficient at reasonable cost, farmers on our scale must consider more such schemes.

With harvest not quite ready – hopefully the rape will be swathed by the time we get home – we have snatched the opportunity to have a few days away.

The stormy weather has certainly given us all ample opportunity to enjoy the surf at Polzeath in Cornwall. But as I write it has just started to rain – and it is St Swithins Day! &#42

Kevin Littleboy

Kevin Littleboy farms 243ha

(600 acres) as Howe

Estates at Howe, Thirsk, N

Yorks. The medium sandy

loam in the Vale of York

supports potatoes, winter

wheat, rape and barley, plus

grass for sheep

NEXT door neighbour Chris and I have again surveyed our farms from the air and it makes us realise how small and insignificant we are.

Seeing the whole business in just 30secs from 2000ft highlights how we spend our lives on a postage stamp. Is it no wonder politicians and big businesses do not really understand or care about us.

Nobody has a God given right to farm. But to survive we shall all have to learn to pull together.

Yorks crops generally look far worse than last year and weed control leaves much to be desired. There are many disease foci in cereals and obvious wet spots. The one year when we all wanted to grow as cheaply and efficiently as possible has been thwarted by the weather.

I have photographed all the fields (and a few of my neighbours) which has helped identify problem areas and will hopefully assist management plans.

The Royal Show was memorable on two counts, one being the names of absent companies. Numbers were down, but with the current state of the industry it was heartening to hear of positive sales enquiries.

The second point was the vast difference in the professional ability of sales personnel. On many stands sales staff stood around talking to each other, rather than attending to customers. Some just sat in chairs watching the passing trade. Others seemed totally ignorant and uncaring.

Thank you to those firms who were professional and efficient.

The Chamberlain Partnership asked me to write down how I envisage the Royal Show in five years and seal my notes in an envelope. I have done so including all the shabby companies I do not believe will be in business in the next two years let alone five.

To the farmer who "borrowed" my £7 show catalogue from a table on an international trade association stand, I hope you got more out of it than I did in my half-hours ownership. &#42

Dennis Fords first stab at this barley harvest has proved disappointing.

James Hosking is having second thoughts about the value of strobilurin fungicides.Triazoles might have been a better option, he reckons.

Simon Wadlows machinery review sees him with a new shared combine harvester this season. Other areas may merit a similar approach, he says.

Kevin Littleboy was far from impressed with the attitude of some sales staff at the Royal Show.

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Archive Article: 1998/07/24

24 July 1998


Wed, July 29

The Sheep Event gives everyone involved in sheep production and marketing the opportunity to shop around all the major suppliers to the sheep sector.

You can compare quality, price, performance, service and delivery.

You can see whats new in stock, housing, equipment, nutrition and health.

You can find all you need for transport and hygiene.

The National Sheep Event has the latest in husbandry, technology and market issues. It is the biennial meeting place for the sheep industry.

SHEEP 98 is organised by Royal Agricultural Society of England, Three Counties Agricultural Society and National Sheep Association, in association with FARMERS WEEKLY and sponsored by National Westminster Bank. The event is open from 9am – 5pm.

SHEEP 98 is held at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcs.

Opening times

Wed July 29 from 9am to 5pm

Admission charges

£7 a person; £5 RASE/TCAS and NSA members and agricultural students (on production of identification).

International visitors free.

Children under-15 free.

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