Archive Article: 2000/04/21 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 2000/04/21

21 April 2000

Harry Tunstall of Foggy Gill, Fell End, Cumbria hornburning a pedigree Swaledale gimmer hogg as part of preparations to get it ready to go out onto the fell, which runs up to 2300 feet. The hogg had just come back from wintering 35 miles away.

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Archive Article: 2000/04/21

21 April 2000

A country calling…A straw poll of apprentices attending Britains only school of thatching at Knuston Hall, Irchester, Northants, found that students did think there was a future in the job thanks to renewed interest in the craft. Roger Scanlan (right) demonstrates to apprentice Ben Angel how to put a new eave on to existing thatch. For more, see Farmlifes Careers in the Countryside starting on. page 7.

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Archive Article: 2000/04/21

21 April 2000

Bleddyn Jones

of Rhandir, Wales (right) shows off his entry of Texel X lambs entered at

Sarn markets Easter show of spring lambs. Weighing in

at 40kg each, they made £1.40/kg to the days judge

Jo Roberts of Bala (left).

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Archive Article: 2000/04/21

21 April 2000

SLOW grass growth is causing concern for even the most committed early grazers, and supplementation should be considered where covers are low, says British Grassland Society consultant Carol Gibson.

"Grass growth is poorer than expected for the time of year. Cover should be higher than 1900kg DM/ha; when it is less than 1800kg DM/ha supplement cows with silage or the cheapest available feed," says Miss Gibson.

But Miss Gibson is heartened by the increase in numbers of producers turning out early this year.

"Turning out earlier is putting pressure on these farms, by reducing cover. However, most producers have managed well. It is vital to monitor cover to ensure you dont run into difficulties later."

At Greenmount College, cover is quite high at 2350kg/ha, but cows are still housed at night, says grassland technologist David Patterson. "We are experiencing lower than normal growth rates of 25-30kg DM/day due to recent wet and frosty weather.

"However, we need to keep a careful eye on growth rates. As soon as they increase to 45-50kg DM/day we must turn cows out day and night, and speed up the rotation to maintain grass quality."

High grass quality is a key objective for Sussex-based producer Christian Fox. His herd is out 24-hours-a-day, but wet weather conditions are proving a challenge.

"I am trying to graze areas that are more sheltered and better drained. But it is crucial to keep the whole unit tightly grazed otherwise grass quality suffers." &#42

Daily growth rates

Anglesey 40kg DM/ha

Pembrokeshire 25kg DM/ha

Sussex 32kg DM/ha

Northern Ireland 27kg DM/ha

Dorset 66kg DM/ha

Shropshire 20kg DM/ha

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Archive Article: 2000/04/21

21 April 2000

Stolen on Friday, 25 Feb from a farm in Wiltshire was this Ford 6600 tractor – its chassis number is 507249 and registration index, AAM 646V. Just one of the stolen machinery stolen items currently recorded on the FWI Theftline, anyone having knowledge of its whereabouts should contact Det/Sgt Williams on 01225 882757. The FWI Theftline, in association with the National Plant & Equipment Register (TER) lists details of machines stolen – a chance to check on the authenticity of prospective second hand purchases, and an opportunity for victims to recover their losses.

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Archive Article: 2000/04/21

21 April 2000

Rivalry and fun were key ingredients at the

recent Bishop Burton

stockmanship competition.

About 100 students battled for prizes at this, the 40th such annual competition to be held at the Yorks college.

Run by the Old Students Association, it rewards

commitment, care and good practice – rather than the quality of the animal as

traditionally happens

at stock shows.

Master judge Mike Withers,

a regular at the event for

the past 35 years, said: "I am still impressed by the hard work and standards achieved by the students, most of whom have never had any experience

of showing."

Steven Barrett, an NDA

student from Otley, won the dairy class and went on to take the coveted Stockman Of The Year title.

Stock-take… Overall prize in the sheep section went to James Gilliat from Otley (below right) while Sanchia Fawcett from Leeds won the Equine Department Grooms Award.

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Archive Article: 2000/04/21

21 April 2000

Their minds set… farmer David Maughan (centre) busy building the set for Gainford Drama Clubs recent production of Dont Rock The Boat. David, a Farmer Focus contributor for Farmers Weekly, is one of about 50 members of the club near Darlington, County Durham.

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Archive Article: 2000/04/21

21 April 2000

Can it really be spring? Last week it was very hard to tell, being so cold and wet. Tim couldnt let the cows out for a few days. The tell-tale signs are there now though, primroses and celandines cover the grassy banks at the top of the road winding down to the farm. Spring flowers softening the harshness of what used to be a wooded area opening out on the valley, but which now looks bare after the devastation this Christmas.

The last few warm, sunny days have brought out the bluebells and there is a big bunch of bright yellow freesias on the kitchen table. I rather took a fancy to Judith Morrows New Year resolution of having fresh flowers in the house. Last week it was daffodils.

Weve had our last calf now until the season begins again in August, so its just routine feeding for me in the calf house until these last 20 are weaned and moved out.

The bulk of the lambing is done – lamb is temporarily off the menu at present – and Tim is busy getting as many lambed ewes out of the shed and onto the banks while the weather is fine.

The local ploughing match took place yesterday in brilliant sunshine in one of our fields in front of the chateau. They were pleased with the turnout of 14 competitors. Our contractor came sixth. He knows the fields well although one of his drivers usually does our ploughing, but it was he who organised the event, and he who organised the after match supper, which dragged on for a while. There is something about the French having trouble getting going. We were there for an hour before the aperitif and almost as long between courses, despite it being a prepared, cold supper.

As the meal progressed, the conversation became lively. The agricultural chat (and several recaps of the afternoons performances) turned into a discussion about learning English. One of the men works with his brother producing Camembert cheese, in Camembert and says he needs to learn English because of the summer season and visitors, so I think Ill look into the possibility of doing "English for farmers" when the new season starts in September.

Of course, what sounds like a good idea after cider, wine and Calvados, might look less tempting in the cold light of day after the work is done but well see…

Meanwhile, there are some perils to the language teaching job – I often get to visit factories as part of the course, a lot of companies have English speaking customers and visitors. Ive seen how paracetamol suppositories are made, office furniture, wood veneer and MDF (medium density fibreboard), brass rods and cabling, but the best was last week when the class visited a company which produces perfume and soap for Yves Saint Laurent, Roger Gallet and others. The wonderful smell in the atmosphere took me a long way from my usual Eau de Veaux.

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Archive Article: 2000/04/21

21 April 2000

Magnus –

the practical-year

student

OLIVER got the nickname Magnus on account of the number of questions he asks.

He wants to know why the sugar beet is drilled when it is, why cattle need trace elements and whether the office software could be updated.

"Ive started so Ill finish," the farm staff chuckle when he comes into the workshop at breakfast time.

The staff were a bit suspicious of Magnus at first – but they got to like him. Hes 18 and harmless. Harmless to everything except inanimate objects, that is, which he soon showed a talent for ramming, snapping or squashing.

Dung forks, trailers, hydraulic cables, tractor seats and fences have all fallen foul of Magnus. He even misjudged the field boundary and spring tined the bosss wifes flower-bed.

What he lacks in experience, however, he makes up for in enthusiasm. Hell do all the jobs that everyone else avoids. Dispatched into grain pits, barn corners and silage pits, Magnus is more than happy to put his hands in unsavoury places. The prospect of getting covered in dung is not one that fazes him.

"Hell get over his enthusiasm," they say in the workshop.

But Magnus reckons hell have the last laugh. He knows hell only be doing it for a year after all. Then itll be College and, after that, who knows – travel a bit or go into marketing maybe. The worlds his oyster.

This is the first time Magnus has lived away from home and hes missing his family. He goes back at weekends if theres no work to be done and returns on Sunday night, his 12-year-old Ford Escort down on the springs, piled high with the food his mothers supplied.

Magnus unpacks it in the kitchen of the cottage in which hes living rent free. The cottage which the boss described as "adequate". The cottage that the rats have long since moved out of.

"Have you heard about the ghost," the fitter, Jim, asks Magnus. "Its the ghost of a student that died one night in the bed in which youre now sleeping."

That joke – and the one about crossing the Hereford bull with the Suffolk ewe – are ones which hes used on every pre-college year student since 1954. Hes yet to find one that falls for it.

Not that Magnus would notice the ghost if there was one. The minute his head hits the pillow, hes asleep. He works such long hours. "Sundays no problem guvnor," he tells the farm manager, himself an old boy of the agricultural college Magnus is destined for.

He needs the cash, he needs a reference and he needs to write a report for College about his practical year – it would be the icing on the cake if the boss gave him access to the accounts. "What do you think about fixed costs," Magnus asks the manager. "And what about considering a machinery ring?"

Then he goes back to the workshop for lunch. "And your specialised subject is," says Jim, "breaking things."

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Archive Article: 2000/04/21

21 April 2000

A LOCAL Environmental Risk Assessment for Pesticides, or LERAP, is now a legal responsibility when using Category B pesticides, points out Graeme Walker, HSE principal inspector specialising in pesticides.

Assessments must be recorded, kept for three years and are open to inspection and enforcement action if found wanting, he says.

Category A products are organophosphate and synthetic pyrethroid-based and must have a 5m buffer near water.

Category B products are other formulations hazardous to water which can have a 5m buffer by farmer choice or a 1-5 m buffer moderated after doing a LERAP.

Other products, sometimes mistakenly called Category C, have no buffer requirement. But label instructions must still be adhered to. Dry ditches require a 1 m buffer for Category A & B products.

Category B LERAP buffer decisions involve Star Rated nozzles, product dose rate and watercourse size, read against four charts in the Practical Guide to Local Environmental Risk Assessments for Pesticides, free from MAFF.

To avoid different buffer sizes the simplest option is to use three star rated nozzle tips on a 12m boom or boom sections alongside the buffer zone or around the headlands if this is easier, he advises. Do that and all buffers for Category B products will be 1m from the top of the watercourse bank.

But remember to record the decision to cover each field operation, whether it is to stick to an annual 5m zone for all Category B applications or modify it with a LERAP.

Recent additions to the approved list of three and two star rated nozzles means that 48 officially recognised low drift tips are available from six companies. Some are approved over a pressure range to take account of practical farm conditions. See www.maff.gov.uk.aboutmaf/agency/psd/leraps/lerap.htm for the latest approvals.

To speed work in the season, colour code a farm map to indicate dry ditch and watercourse width. &#42

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Archive Article: 2000/04/21

21 April 2000

A quality front linkage for under £1000, says Flexi-coil which has just introduced this 1.5t capacity version. Suitable for most modern tractors, the unit uses a single acting ram and has a top link with positions for parallel lift and maximum crowd. Fitted with hook ends as standard, Walterscheid ends are a £150 option.

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