Archive Article: 2000/02/11 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

Clean brief…Jack White of Biggar makes the most of an early start giving these Charolais bulls a hose-down.

Inside and dry, clipping gets into full swing. Here, Stewart Bett of Abernethy, Perthshire, adds the final touches.

Uncovered, a cover-up… Kevin Mallarkey, Barnyards of Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire, prepares his pens.

Sarah Jane Jessop of Castleton Farm, Stirling, tackles a Shorthorns tail.

Cubicle café.. whos for a brew?

Whos who? Iain Campbell of Blelack, Aberdeenshire, pins up the IDs.

Perth attracts breeders from all parts of the UK and abroad. Desmond Orr (left) and Edwan Bothwell were over from Northern Ireland.

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

The Safeway depot near Bristol was the target of a joint action by 250 Welsh and English farmers who blocked the road access and shut down the depot until 1am. The protest was called when significant quantities of chilled New Zealand lamb began arriving in Safeway stores. Local police praised the sensible conduct of the protesting farmers.

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

Crisis. What crisis? Tony Blair visited the West Country in an attempt to get the region back "on message". His trip took in the Eden Project in Cornwall where several gigantic balls containing different habitats will eventually "demonstrate the relationship between the human race, farming and the environment".

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

A decision by Newdown Farms, Micheldever, Hants to let out 1000ha (2500 acres) of arable land on a farm business tenancy brought about the recent sale of all machinery. "Many are now considering their businesses viability," says FPD Savills Richard Biddlecombe. At the sale, a Claas Lexion 460 combine took bids to £80,400.

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

&#8226 OFFICIAL figures on the incidence of BSE throughout Europe in 1999 were released in Brussels this week. The UK headed the list, with 2093 cases, followed by Portugal with 170, Ireland with 95, and France with 31. While the UK figure is declining, the other three countries had their worst years on record. Outside the EU, Switzerland recorded 50 cases.

&#8226 GERMAN health minister, Andrea Fisher confirmed German intentions to lift the ban on British beef when she met EU food safety commissioner, David Byrne earlier this week. A vote will be taken in the upper house of government – the Bundesrat – on March 17. Brussels insiders say it is possible the EU Commission will launch the first stage of legal proceedings ahead of this meeting, to focus the Germans minds.

&#8226 EUROPEAN farm commissioner, Franz Fischler has sprung to the defence of his native Austria following the formation of a right wing coalition government last week. "Austria is not a stronghold of fascism, but a functioning democracy," he said, following sharp criticism by the other 14 EU member states. The EUs principle values of freedom and human rights were not threatened.

&#8226 PLANS to revamp the school milk scheme have been attacked by the Brussels-based European Dairy Association. In a letter to MEPs, the association warns that making EU funding dependent on member state contributions could result in the loss of the scheme altogether in some countries. Farm ministers are due to settle the issue in the near future.

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

Less red tape, more opportunities to expand and better facilities for the family are reasons behind Stuart Tysons decision to emigrate to a 600ha (1500 acre) arable unit in Saskatchewan, Canada. Last weekend saw the dispersal at his 60ha(144 acre) Castlehead Farm, Lindale, Cumbria where – having sold the unit and dairystock – these two JD tractors went for £9100 and £7200.

(Kendal & Preston)

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

Blackgrass and broad-leaved weeds were the targets in 9.3ha (23 acres) of Oct 15 drilled Savannah second wheat near Wimblington, Cambs last week. Hawk at 2.5litres/ha, Lexus at 20g/ha and 2litres/ha of Sprayprover mineral oil went on in 175litres/ha of water using a Sands 2500 sprayer fitted with air-sleeves. Contractor Brian Porter covered 7,690ha (19,000 acres) last year – he expects to do up to 10,000ha (25,000 acres) this year.

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

FEB 12 Sales of trucks (9), tipping trailers and ancillary equipment. Chipping Sodbury. Malcolm Harrison (01782-372966)

FEB 12 Dispersal of JD and Case tractors (12), veg planting, harvesting and grading tackle. And glasshouse equipment. Skegness, Lincs. Willsons (01754-810477)

FEB 12 Spring sale of Saler cattle. Castle Douglas. Wallets Marts (01566-502381)

FEB 13 Spring sale of Saler cattle. Worcester. McCartneys (01905-612968)

FEB 14 Dispersal of Bateman and Poldenvale sheep handling kit, Ford tractors and grassland machinery. Also 150 big bales of silage. Beckington, Somerset. Cooper & Tanner (01373-831010)

FEB 15 Dispersal of commercial herd of Holstein Friesians (82 head). Standish, Glos. Gwilym Richards (01453-521600)

FEB 17 Sale of tractors, Fiat crawler, Bateman Contour 24m sprayer, and modern arable kit. Benington, Lincs. Brown & Co (01205-311622)

FEB 17 Dispersal of MF 6290 (3), 6170, 3120 (2) and 3095 tractors, potato kit from Standen, Reekie, Pearson and Tong, Gull trailers and Briggs/Wright Rain irrigation kit. Nesscliffe, Salop. Halls (01743-231212)

FEB 17 Sale of tractor, crawler spares and implement wearing parts from dealers yard due to relocation. Also vintage tractors. Little Paxton, Cambs. Alexanders (01480-432220)

FEB 17 Sale of beef bred suckled and store cattle (300 head), Lichfield, Staffs. Bagshaws (01543-263256)

FEB 18 Annual winter show and sale of Welsh Black cattle (72 head). Dolgellau, Gwynedd. Farmers Marts (01341-422334)

FEB 18 Annual sale of pedigree Luing cattle (198 head). Castle Douglas. Wallets Marts (01556-502381)

FEB 18 Collective sale of Limousin cattle (254 head). Carlisle. &#42 & &#42 (01228-490590)

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

uA NEW trade deal has been struck between EU negotiators and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries which will remove preferential trade arrangements enjoyed by the ACP bloc over the next eight years. To keep within WTO requirements, the EU has offered structural assistance of about k13bn as part of the deal. However, since some tariffs will continue until 2008, contravening global trade rules, the final outcome depends on the WTO renewing a derogation allowing this.

uAGRICULTURAL accountant Grant Thornton has acquired KPMGs Norwich office, taking its total of farming clients in the eastern region to over 500. Existing partners and staff will remain at the Norwich office, integrating accounts, taxation and farm business advisory work. Grant Thornton already has teams based in Bedford, Bury St Edmunds and Kettering. &#42

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

Justin Blackwood

Justin Blackwood farms

770ha (1900 acres) from

Grange Farm, Great

Brington, Northants, on a

range of farming

agreements. Cropping

hinges around winter wheat,

plus winter barley, rape,

peas, oats and occasionally

linseed

GROUND conditions improved in January with less than 25mm (1in) of rain in the month. Crops have taken on a far healthier appearance and the ducks have had to go back to the pond to find somewhere to paddle.

Our liquid nitrogen tanks are full, ready to start top-dressing oilseed rape with about 87 kg/ha (70 units/acre) from the second week of February. We tried drilling spring beans with the Simba Free Flow last week, mainly to get it calibrated and iron out any potential problems. Although the ground had become quite dry on top, in general it is still too wet underneath. Recent light showers have prevented any further attempts.

Late January or early February may seem early to consider doing field work. But if one holds back a wet February could take you into mid-March with a mountain of work in front of you.

There is no doubt next autumn we will have to do a little more soil loosening. Ideally, if we cultivate and drill early when ground conditions are at their best, there should be little need for deep soil movement or moling bar occasional headlands and tramlines. But for a year or two we will have to do considerably more busting to correct some present problems.

To correctly identify these problem areas without endless digging I am taking to the air armed with a digital camera and a conventional camera loaded with infrared film. Taking pictures directly overhead of about 10ha (25 acres) during the early rapid growth period in spring, usually mid-March for oilseed rape and late-March to early-April for cereals, crop vigour can be easily assessed. Infra-red photography is particularly good as it picks out chlorophyll levels more accurately.

There will always be differences in crop appearance on different soil types and north facing fields, especially during the early spring growth stage. But areas of slow growth due to compacted ground, shallow roots, and retained water can be identified and used to plan an autumn cultivation programme.

Justin Blackwood is planning to take to the skies over Northants this spring – to take a closer look at his soils.

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

Lloyd Jones

Lloyd Jones farms 175ha

(430 acres) at Hall Farm,

Westbury, Shropshire.

Cereals and potatoes are

rotated with grass and he is

an NFU council member.

Buildings house potato and

cereal seed dressing lines

OUR wish for a cold, dry period of weather to spread our stockpiles of manure were partially answered last month and we got some spreading done.

However, the decision to bale linseed straw-bedding use last summer has come back to haunt us. Though we have only used the odd bale with plenty of wheat straw, it has transferred its wrapping ability from the combine table to the muck spreader. We can only hope more time to rot will weaken its resolve to wrap!

With ground beginning to dry out we will soon apply P & K fertiliser to winter cereals, except for last years potato ground. Sowing of spring cereals is, I suspect, still some time away.

The lack of field work last month has given us time to catch up on some long overdue fencing. We have yet to decide how to deal with the recent 2m headland ruling from MAFF.

Last weeks NFU AGM, which Jill and I attended, was probably the most interactive weve been to and very political. The Prime Minister, Minister of Agriculture and the Leader of the Opposition spoke and some excellent and searching questions were asked. Long-term proposals were outlined, but frankly, if our political masters dont put their glasses on and see whats happening now, we may not survive to see their longsighted vision for the industry.

The managing director of Mars Confectionery spoke and drew parallels between the changes experienced in his business and agriculture. Spangles, the firms market leader for 30 years had to be dropped when the public moved on – the message being you cant keep doing the same thing for ever. The chief executive of Sainsburys gave a presentation too, and drew some very pointed questions from the floor.

It was an excellent conference with president Ben Gill in forceful mood and a good outcome for our West Midlands region. Not only did we have two winners in the prestigious Presidents Awards, but following the meeting, Council elected Richard Watson-Jones as vice-president.

Back from the NFU AGM, Lloyd Jones says the politicians had better get their specs on.

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

Christian Fox

Christian Fox manages 130

spring-calving cows and

followers, on a 200ha

(500 acre) mixed farm in

West Sussex, with 150ha

(380 acres) of arable crops.

He is aiming for high profits

and low costs by maximising

use of grazed grass

MAFF really does have a customer care problem; it has just contacted us because one of the Jerseys has a suspected BSE dam.

The Vet Lab Agency man who visited to verify the ill-fated beasts presence was amiable. But the letter which preceded him was not. I find words like seize and restrain are more suited to escaped convicts. What next: Wanted posters?

It has been back to reality with a jolt this month, having started calving a good three weeks before our planned start date. This is thanks to 45 purchased heifers, 35 of which calved early.

Dry cows are still up on the forage rape ground, but are now being fed silage and straw. The plough is already polished and attached to a large tractor ready for the field, so I guess I will have to find somewhere else for cows soon.

Milkers are out at grass day and night, but also get some left-over two-year-old maize silage that needs finishing pretty quickly. This is trailer-fed in the loafing area for an hour either side of milking.

They are also eating 3kg of concentrate in the parlour. This is maize gluten – which I over ordered for youngstock – but I will eventually feed a cheap cake with minerals. The main reason for a cheap cakes is that our antiquated feeders, invented by someone who never saw a cow in a parlour, spew gluten at a bash from a cows head.

Now I am milking again, my mind drifts to rather obscure places. Last week the following drifted through the void which I will leave you with as a teaser. What happens to all the part litres produced?

Every time your milk is collected the ticket reads a whole number of litres, but this must actually be at least 0.1 or at most 0.9 litres out. Where are these part litres going? On every-day collection you could be losing nearly £6 a year. Not much, until you add up the number of producers. A nice bonus for someone.

I suspect I will soon receive a letter from Milk Marque using words like seize and restrain. &#42

It is back to reality for Christian Fox. After a few early calving heifers he has started milking again.

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

Andrew Hebditch

Andrew Hebditch farms

285ha (700 acres) of

owned, tenanted and

share-farmed land at Coat,

Martock, Somerset. Silt

and clay soils support

winter wheat, barley and

oilseed rape, plus spring

peas, linseed and beans

IT is official, and we heard it from the horses mouth. No more money to be spent propping up British agriculture.

Money will be spent on rural development, whatever that might be. The only development that would help at the moment would be a few acres next to our village. Apparently, we need to diversify and promote our wares on the internet. This comes from a man who, as Prime Minister, ought to be able to use more than half a dozen brain cells at one time and realise that to survive our core business of food production has to be profitable.

What annoys me more than anything is knowing that our low prices are caused mainly by the current rate of exchange, for which government monetary policy is solely to blame. I am probably being very naive, but surely commodities on which life itself depends have a value which should be independent of such currency fluctuations and London traders manipulations? Imagine the outrage if water was subject to either of these things.

Anyway, lets look at things over which we have some degree of control. Just over 100t of 26:8:8 Kemira N24 has been ordered at £106/t. Although that seems expensive, it is a saving of £6/t on using 0:20:30 plus straight nitrogen as Nitram. And that excludes application savings. Wheat is being moved to make space for the fertiliser and at only £68/t we are thankful for no deductions.

Only 19mm (0.7in) of rain during January saw most of our ground drying well after the deluge in December. By the time I write next months column, field work should have started with spring beans drilled and the first of the fertiliser on.

Finally, for the NFU to hold their conference at the London Hilton when their members are struggling to survive seems a bit extravagant to me. Or perhaps I have got hold of the wrong end of the stick again. Maybe the delegates share the full cost.

What really gets my goat is the governments intransigence on exchange rates, says Somerset grower Andrew Hebditch.

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

John Jeffrey

John Jeffrey runs two

tenanted farms in

partnership with his father

from Kersknowe, near Kelso

in the Scottish Borders.

Two-thirds of the 730ha

(1800 acres) is arable,

growing seed potatoes, oilseed rape, wheat and

winter and spring barley

WEhave just passed the Scotch Quality Beef and Lamb Assurance farm test and now await visits from Scottish Quality Cereals and Farm Assured Produce.

At a time when we are trying to reduce every conceivable cost it is crazy to have three sets of fees to pay. One farm audit, one fee and, most importantly, one set of stringent standards under one umbrella organisation would make a lot more sense.

I am a great believer in quality assurance but the cynic in me has some nagging doubts. The pig industry is a prime example of producers being led up the assurance garden path. They were ordered to meet stringent animal welfare standards by the government and the supermarkets. Now producers have invested heavily to meet these standards, both parties sold them short.

We are continually encouraged to produce food, at great expense, to the highest hygiene standards otherwise they will not accept it. But then inferior imported produce, either genetically modified, reared in unacceptable conditions, or full of growth hormones, is offered as a cheaper alternative.

The reason, as the supermarkets well know, is that the housewife will invariably buy purely on price. This situation will only get worse with the arrival of Wal-Mart and its Pile it high, sell it low maxim. They have vowed to reduce the cost of food by at least 10% and that will start with the price paid to the producer.

If consumers were offered the choice of two different aisles in the supermarket, one purely organic and premium priced, the other conventionally produced in Britain and sensibly priced, I know which one would be sold out first.

On the farm, dressing seed potatoes is occupying most of our time. However, the market for free varieties is virtually non-existent because of over-supply. Responding to Trevor Horsnells Farmer Focus article (Arable Jan 21), I can supply top quality seed delivered to him whenever he specifies and at no extra cost for crossing the border!

John Jeffrey says he can supply top quality potato seed from his Borders farm to Essex Farmer Focus writer Trevor Horsnell whenever he wants it.

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

Cumbrian-based manufacturer Land-Drive has introduced an upgraded range of Farmspread trailed fertiliser spreaders for the forthcoming top dressing season. Available in 1.5t, 2.5t and 3.5t capacities, the FST models feature a three speed ground-driven gearbox, wider spreading discs, a headland spreading kit and a wider cleated conveyor belt. Optional extras include stainless steel construction, a loading screen, PVC cover and rear lights. Prices start from £5500.

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

EVENT BRIEFS

uPRODUCERS should spend more time assessing the gait of individual cows within their herds, believe Chris Livesey and Richard Laven. Both agree that taking time to assess gait can give prior warning of likely lamenes, as well as identifying which cows are most likely to succumb to locomotion concerns.

uBEING cruel to be kind and putting heifers in cubicle housing at 13 months old may be the only way to acclimatise their feet to concrete and reduce later problems. Chris Livsey, a researcher at CVL Weybridge, Surrey, said horn took a year to grow from top to bottom of the foot. "Therefore, if you want to get heifers used to concrete, you have to toughen up their feet 12 months before you want to house them, not two weeks before."

uUSING a head torch, available in climbing and outdoor shops, can help provide better lighting when dealing with cows feet, according to CVL vet Chris Livesey, who finds the head torch invaluable. &#42

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Archive Article: 2000/02/11

11 February 2000

Tom –

the conference delegate

ITS the winter months and Tom is trekking round conferences at a rate of two a week.

Ask him what he gets out of it and, well, hes not exactly sure – just a chance to catch up on the news, meet old friends. Afterwards, hell talk, nonetheless, about how fascinating the papers were. How stimulating. How thought-provoking.

Its a quiet time work-wise for the forty-something-year-old consultant – so hes making the most of it. He listens, suited or tweeded, to speaker after speaker explaining what a SWOT analysis is and how businesses today have to be efficient and effective.

And hell chuckle every time he hears the one about how, if all the worlds economists were laid end to end, they still wouldnt reach a conclusion.

Toms a well-known face on the circuit. When he puts his hand up to ask a question – as he always does – he feels a little smug when the chairman refers to him by name. His question will be long – more of a point than a question, really – for our conference-goer, demure as he may appear, quite likes being in the spotlight.

He chuckles as each speaker concludes a presentation with some banal aphorism like: "The future is ahead of us". And then hell clap enthusiastically when asked to show his appreciation in the usual fashion.

Morning coffee and afternoon tea breaks will see Tom in the hall foyer, on his mobile. Hell be using words like "gross margin" or "fixed cost" before heading back in to shake as many hands as possible.

Hell be pouting out his chest, displaying his name badge. Its a good chance to meet people – networking, as he calls it – and, having scanned the delegate list, hell know exactly whos worth meeting and whos not. Its like his mentor in his first job always used to say: "Everyones a potential client, Tom, everyone."

It seems like a lifetime ago, that first job. Hell tell people about it over lunch. The days, he recalls, before BSE, bureaucracy or talk of traceability. Which reminds him: theres a paper immediately after lunch hes particularly looking forward to: "Trace-ability – threat or opportunity".

Unfortunately the wine takes its toll and Tom sleeps through it. Well, not completely through it – he wakes up just in time to hear the speakers closing line: "The future is ahead of us."

And then he rushes out to tell people how stimulating and thought-provoking the paper was.

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