Archive Article: 2000/01/07 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 2000/01/07

7 January 2000

West Country beef farmer Richard Haddock received an original drawing by cartoonist Dave Bell after being voted FARMERS WEEKLY Farm Personality of the Year. The award was presented by FWs south west correspondent, John Burns, who was also on hand to present a luxury food hamper to Anne Parsons of Trebullet, Cornwall. Mrs Parsons submitted the winning phrase with her vote for Mr Haddock.

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Archive Article: 2000/01/07

7 January 2000

Grain intervention – some sense at last

Grain intervention has long been regarded as something of a joke on this side of the Channel.

On the Continent, everything is done to ensure it works smoothly to put a floor in the cereals market. But in the UK, excessive costs, a high risk of rejection and delayed payments often mean intervention is more trouble than it is worth.

The result? Our grain price sinks to distressed world values.

But a recent report by a red tape working group, now on farm minister Nick Browns desk, contains plenty of realistic proposals to help make intervention work.

Mr Browns initial reaction suggests he is keen to act and implement change by this harvest. That wont be a moment too soon if world grain values continue to slide.

How costs squeeze the abattoir business

Everyone deserves free choice. Livestock producers are no exception. They want to choose where to sell their stock but crippling Meat Hygiene Service costs could soon reduce that ability.

Small- and medium- sized abattoirs are being forced out of business by such costs. Only the bigger abattoirs will be left. And thats bad news not only for producers but also animal welfare, with stock enduring long lorry journeys. Such journeys increase stress and that harms eating quality.

Its also bad news for local meats, which need small-scale abattoirs for their supply. For a healthy meat industry,we need local meats and local abattoirs – so lets fight to ensure that we retain them.

Crop growth model has exciting potential

Fancy a nice bit of modelling? No, not the catwalk type and you wont need a waif-like figure. Sophisticated modelling of crop growth could help vegetable farmers meet supermarket demands more accurately in future.

Based on long-term weather patterns and crop growth models, the new computer-based decision support system can predict both optimum yield and harvest date. That promises better co-ordinated supplies to meet supermarket needs allowing plant maturity and volume to be matched precisely with demand.

It is a fine example of British technology helping British growers meet the needs of British retailers. Lets hope it boosts demand for home-grown produce rather than imports.

Antique research data is rather old hat…

Who needs antique research? Results from two- or three-year old crop trials are often useful, and five-year old results may still be interesting. But experiments carried out more than a decade ago are of curiosity value only.

Imagine our surprise when the sole paper on sunflowers at a recent agronomists conference concentrated on relaying trials information from as far back as 1988.

Many of the results had apparently never been published before. Just how well are farmers being served? If research is worthwhile all findings, interim or otherwise, need passing on to farmers as soon as possible.

Room for bright youth within farming arena

Life begins at 40 – particularly if youre a farmer. In fact, the average age of British farmers is 58. Not surprisingly many dont encourage their children to follow in their footsteps.

But the certainty of a job for life has disappeared from most industries. And why not encourage talented, optimistic and courageous youngsters to come into agriculture? At least they will have no illusions. And goodness knows the industry needs their help.

As one new entrant points out in our Farmlife section, a willingness to innovate, change and adapt, laced with a large dose of realism, is what young people need to make a successful career in farming. We wish them well.

If you dont know how to play, you cant win

Winning a game of Monopoly without knowing the rules is virtually impossible. The same is true for livestock producers dealing with CAP Agenda 2000 reform.

Less than helpful is the fact that the scheme rules were sent out so late for a regime that started this week. Plus schemes such as extensification are so complicated they take an age to understand.

But the amount of money to be won or lost is so great that no-one can afford to make mistakes or ignore the rules. After all, with all sectors suffering financially, making the most of subsidies on offer is a sure trump card. Read how best to play it in our Livestock Section.

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Archive Article: 2000/01/07

7 January 2000

Simon – the Agric

SIMONS in the second year of an agricultural degree at a rural campus. He gets drunk in the union bar and shows people his bottom. Then he ambles back to the damp, mouse-infested cottage he shares with three friends. "The Squat", they call it.

His wardrobe is full of rugby tops and T-shirts that say "Im the bull to make you full" or "Im a top tup" on the back. He smells of silage for weeks on end in the vacations – but scrubs up well, occasionally donning a black tie for 21st parties. He usually finds an item of food festering in the pocket when he puts the jacket on.

Simon goes lambing at Easter, harvesting in the summer. He works 100-hour weeks because he needs the cash. He enjoys looking under tractor bonnets and, alongside his favourite Caprice poster, theres a picture of a monster tractor on his wall. He took the photo on his year out, travelling New Zealand and Australia with his best mate from Young Farmers.

Simons stocky and puts on weight easily. The girls think him bawdy – but quite like him. "How many acres has she got?" is what he wants to know. His girlfriend, Katie – one of only four females on the course – cant help thinking she gets the short end of the stick sometimes. Like when Simon rolls up at three in the morning and eats the contents of her fridge in one sitting. Then decides to chop some firewood – in the kitchen.

He likes a game of squash with his lecturers. It helps, knowing them on a personal level, when negotiating an extension for an assignment deadline – and Simon negotiates a lot of these. Having joined every club and society in freshers week, theres just never enough time to write that essay on animal physiology or nutrition.

That little incident with the sheep in the principals office seems, thankfully, to have been forgotten about now. If Simon buckles down in his final year, hes on course for a 2:1. He likes working with his hands, though, and couldnt bear an entirely office-bound job. Farm management, he reckons, will give him the best of both worlds. Maybe do that for a couple of years, he thinks, then go back to the family farm.

For now, however, hes got more pressing priorities – like getting drunk in the union bar and showing people his bottom. Again.

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Archive Article: 2000/01/07

7 January 2000

Lynx Engineering has introduced a range of front linkages designed specifically to fit four- and six-cylinder John Deere 6000 series tractors. Made by Dutch manufacturer Zuidberg Techniek, the linkages are available in 2.5t, 3.0t and 3.5t lift capacities. The linkages are developed to fit around Deeres own front pto system and loader range and are available with category 2 lift arms and gas accumulators. Linkages can also be installed on machines fitted with Deeres TLS front axle suspension system. Prices start at £1770.

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Archive Article: 2000/01/07

7 January 2000

Muddy Boots Software has upgraded its CropWalker 98 package with the development of an interactive pesticide database. Designed initially as a simple crop recording program, the software now contains over 2000 spray products, legal guidance for spray usage, maximum dose rate/applications and recommended harvest interval periods. Named ProCheck 2000, the database also offers a product auditing function, and a search aid designed to enable the user to utilise and analyse data in a more powerful way. ProCheck 2000 is said to be supported by major agrochemical manufacturers and is updated electronically on a website once a week.

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