Archive Article: 2000/10/13 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

A little ray of sunshine… sunflower harvesting at George Hornes Nash Court Farm, Ashford, Kent. This year Mr Horne has grown 17.4ha (43 acres) on contract for Haywards Heath-based Seed Services. Depending on the quality of the seed produced, it will be used for either the bird trade or to make English Gold cold-pressed sunflower oil.

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

Farming past, present and future was the theme of the Millennium Harvest service held at Ely Cathedral last week. The service featured a tape-recording of 98-year-old Ted Taylor who is still employed as a farmworker in the area. Proceeds went to the Rural Stress Information Network.

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

Bob Brownlow of Escritt & Barrell (centre) gets the Corby Glen Sheep Fair at Grantham, Lincs, started on Monday. Tups were slightly back on the year, but breeding females at £46 and store lambs at £27.50 were up markedly. The company works with Scorrer Clay Richardson which sells on the opposite roadside, a tradition dating back over 750 years.

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

Hampshire Downs arrive at Windsor Castle following the Royal Farms decision to establish a pedigree flock. After grazing round the castle grounds, the 120 Hampshire Down ewe lambs are scheduled for Bagshot Park, where a 81ha (200-acre) unit is undergoing organic conversion. There are plans to expand the flock to 350 ewes. Eventually, the Royal Farms intend to open a farm shop supplied all year round with branded Hampshire Down lamb, along with a variety of produce from some of the Queens other estates.

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

GRASS growth remains good in many areas, but recent wet weather is making accessibility to pasture difficult.

Lack of a complete track network and heavy rain means grazing is proving a challenge for Staffs producer Stephen Brandon. "Although there is plenty of grass, getting to and from pasture isnt doing cows any good so I am housing them at night."

Grass is also growing well at Christian Foxs Sussex unit with a daily growth rate of 48kg DM/ha. "Cows are still only receiving grass but from mid November, silage will be introduced to keep yields up and slow the rotation down.

"Yields are 14 litres/day which is slightly better than at this time last year. Im keeping an eye on cow condition and will dry lighter cows off in early November and the rest of the herd in late November," says Mr Fox.

Wet ground, lower temperatures and shortening day length have slowed grass growth to 30kg DM/ha in Northern Ireland, according to Greenmount College grazing technologist David Patterson.

"Water lying on ground produces a chilling effect which is slowing grass growth." &#42

Daily growth rates

Sussex 48kg DM/ha

Northern Ireland 30kg DM/ha

Dorset 35kg DM/ha

Staffs 46kg DM/ha

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

Stephen Bumstead

Stephen Bumstead farms

148ha (365 acre) from Ouse

Bank Farm, Great Barford,

Beds. He is a first

generation farmer and

council tenant, growing

combinable crops on three

blocks of land. He supports

LEAF and is the FWAG

county treasurer

AT last we have finished cutting Roundhill, a 12ha (30 acre) field of Charger wheat which I started on Sept 13 and finally cleared on Oct 4.

It was a case of snatch and run before the showers, often torrential downpours stopping us dead in our tracks. My patience was tested to almost breaking point with the combine header sometimes pushing a bow-wave of mud and pulling rather than cutting much of the crop.

However, we won this particular battle and achieved an average of 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre) including bad blackgrass patches. Now, we have the Scirocco beans to do. Hopefully, by the time this is read, we will be singing Harvest Home.

Between our attempts at harvesting, I have done a spot of ploughing as and when conditions allowed and, if I dare say it, the rain has helped that go well. I never do much cultivation before the dry weather breaks, which is living dangerously I know, but it helps keep the cost of metal down and the land runs much better without forcing.

Drilling will start the second week of October, weather permitting, with Malacca and Charger wheats at 250-275 seeds/sq m, then on to Pearl and Regina barleys. All seed is bought-in C2, but even after discounts there is too much of a mark-up on the end product price in my opinion.

Nobody can blame those who take from the heap to drill because it all grows. You only have look behind the combine for evidence of that. Yes, the plant-breeder is entitled to a royalty and should receive some payment from the home savers, but those who criticise this practice would do well to remember times are hard and the farmers working day long.

I have a total of 30 fields to drill, with an average size of 5ha (12 acres). It is a wonder I dont get dizzy with all those headlands. Roundhill is my third largest field and one of my heaviest. &#42

"Its a wonder I dont get dizzy with all these headlands," says Beds grower Stephen Bumstead.

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

Mike Rowland

Mike Rowlands 141ha

(350 acre) Bowden Farm,

Burbage, Wilts, is in organic

conversion, with 32ha (80

acres) fully organic from

Oct 99. Potatoes, carrots,

wheat and peas will rotate

with grass for suckler cows.

At Amesbury 404ha (1000

acres) is in conventional

seed production

NO sooner than our arable harvest finishes than our root harvest begins!

After a lot of worrying about the cleanliness of our conventionally grown sugar beet, the last spray coped well with the heavy flush of weeds and the beet are now bulking up well. As for growing organic sugar beet, at present I do not feel the premium offered is sufficiently attractive to tempt me.

Our organic potatoes, Cosmos and Valor, have yielded surprisingly well and the size and quality has been excellent. They are now safely gathered in. Conventional maincrop potatoes have been a struggle to spray off with Reglone (diquat) because of the rain. The Estima are all in but Cara are still in the field.

We are always anxious about our autumn drilling date. Not too early from the disease point of view but not too late to risk losing yield is the aim. Our usual target date is Sept 20 but the weather recently has been more like November and that target has slipped by. Conventional drilling is now top priority with Pearl winter barley in and wheat drilling underway.

This years Pearl all went for malting without any trouble which has encouraged us to grow 80ha (200 acres) for seed this year. Malacca wheat made its milling premium and yielded exceptionally well so we shall be majoring on that variety this year.

We shall also grow Savannah, Claire, Hereward and the faithful Spark that does exceptionally well on the chalk and always gets its milling premium. That said, all the winter barley and winter wheat will be for seed this year. We have also introduced Gerald winter oats for the first time as we have dropped linseed.

Where our phosphate and potash indicies are less than two we have spread P & K on the ploughing so it is readily available to the young plants. I am convinced that on our thin chalk this is an essential ingredient to maintaining high yields. Some indices are between zero and one. &#42

Mike Rowland still has Cara maincrop potatoes to lift and target drilling dates for winter wheat have slipped by on his Wilts farm.

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

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

WITH no more than two days settled weather in a row in the past two months, everybodys patience has been tried to the limit.

The farm staff are betting on whether we will start lifting potatoes before the crisping company closes its intake stores and whether we will finish before Father Christmas comes down the chimney. However, I am pleased to say we have finished drilling barley, but plans for early drilled wheat have failed miserably.

The annual cereal statistics, announcing an increase in wheat areas and yields to produce a 16.5m tonne crop, should highlight to all arable farmers the very important work that British Cereal Exports does.

However, accurate and valuable as such surveys are, the announcements timing was a tad insensitive for those in Yorks and north of here this year because numerous people hadnt finished harvest.

Grain has been coming in so wet that combines have had to stop to unload the wet grain because there was not enough engine power to cut and thrash the wheat at the same time. Combine drivers have been told not to stop unless the windscreen wiper cant cope.

With the intended reorganisations of MAFF and the NFU, and the new role of Regional Development Agencies, it will become imperative that levy-paid organisations such as the HGCA and BPC play a bigger role in keeping levy payers informed and the powers that be up to date with the realities of their respective commodities. That said, levy payers must also play their part in using these organisations to their mutual benefit, rather than being spoon-fed.

Talking of grants, maybe the government could grant-aid farmers and staff who wish to take up the services offered from a caravan that has been "dumped" near the farm on the A1. A billboard on its side promotes what can only be described politely as "professional services".

Driving past, I had mistakenly read part of the wording as "message". Such support might go a long way to calming the very frayed nerves and despondency in the industry… &#42

"Ill bet you were lifting potatoes at Christmas…" Wet weather has been causing all sorts of headaches for growers in the north, but Kevin Littleboy (right) has a suggestion for those who need to unwind.

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

Belgian slurry tanker manufacturer, Joskin has introduced a suspension system which is claimed to improve stability and operator comfort. Fitted to the companys Modulo 2 trailed spreader, the Airplus system comprises a large air cushion and two gas shock absorbers which link the integral cradle to the drawbar. Air is sourced from a compressor.

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

Steve Morris

Steve Morris farms in the

Forest of Bowland, Lancs, in

partnership with his wife

Valerie. Over half of the

190ha (470 acre) LFA farm

is heather fell, with a further

20ha (50 acres) of rough

grazing. It is stocked with

50 dairy cows, 280 Lonk

ewes, 100 half-breds and

40 gimmer hoggs.

OUR landlord, who keeps detailed rainfall records, informs me that the 17cm (7in) of rain that fell here during September was not an unusually high amount – but it certainly doesnt seem that way.

As I pen these notes, cows are indoors by day and night despite having more grass available than usual. Sodden pastures dictated that cows should be housed more abruptly than I had intended. The bulk tank will always pass judgement on these matters and I was relieved to see the 150 litre drop in milk reverse within 48 hours.

Using remaining grass is not a problem; there are enough sheep here at flushing and tupping time to take care of that. A bigger worry is the 9ha (23 acres) I had set aside for big bales to feed ewes pre-lambing. I hoped to bale this in mid-September, but with hardly a dry 24 hours during the past month, Im dearly hoping that by the time you read this well be having a sustained spell of Indian summer.

During late summer and autumn these past few years, our lambs have failed to thrive and been generally lacklustre. This year all lambs received a vitamin and trace element drench in mid-August. There definitely seems to have been an improvement, although I regret not leaving some untreated as a control group.

Mid-October will see gimmer lambs heading to their winter home on the banks of the Ribble at Clitheroe, a welcome change from our higher pastures.

My wife, Valerie, has been suggesting recently that we ought to take a few days off. This break would give us a chance to visit Carlisle, not just for the lovely drive through Cumbria, but also to call in at our MAFF regional service centre. The sooner we know where the moorland line is, the sooner well know the impact of the Hill Farm Allowance scheme on our business.

The difference between our fell ground being classified as severely disadvantaged or moorland is more than £2000. However, the category that seems most likely to take the brunt of the new arrangements is new entrants. As if young people werent being driven out of the hills fast enough. &#42

Recent wet weather led to a 150-litre milk drop for Steve Morris.

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

Next step, Hollywood. Or should that be Holyhead? Welsh youngsters have made a film depicting a typical familys life in rural Ceredigion. Rhodri Davies from Trisant Young Farmers Club is one of the main characters, playing a sixteen-year-old school-leaver who is keen to follow in his fathers footsteps on the farm. "But with farming the way it is, things arent so easy," says Rhodri. The film is now available for organisations to view. For a copy, contact Cwysi on 01970 625561.

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

IN BRIEF

&#8226 WINTER wheat Shamrock outshone Malacca on specific weight and protein on all 17 Arable Research Centre sites last harvest, according to breeder Advanta.

But against other varieties, its yield was 3% down compared with 1999, says ARC director Mike Carver.

&#8226 TWO new free A4 guides to help wheat growers beat blackgrass are available from Novartis. The first summarises the results of what the company says is the nations largest independent survey of the weed, covering 500 top growers.

The second aims to dispel seven common myths surrounding its control. Telephone 01223-494150 for copies.

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

Dennis Bridgeford

Dennis Bridgeford farms

50ha (125 acres) at Petley

Farm in Easter Ross, north

of Inverness. The farm

comprises of a 480-sow

indoor unit producing 95kg

pigs for one outlet and 85kg

pigs for a local abattoir. A

further 320 sows are run

outdoors. Land not used for

pigs grows spring barley

AS we approach October, we are experiencing an Indian summer with some really nice hot sunny days.

Harvest on the whole went well, despite being a bit stop-start. Our spring barley did well on both yield and quality.

Baling straw was our biggest bugbear and for the first time ever, we had to row up some fields twice because of high winds and a couple of really wet days. We usually buy straw, but with a carry-over from the past two years this will be one saving we can make.

We try to buy grain that has been rejected by the maltsters for either high nitrogen or splitting. But this year has been a quiet season, with nearly all barley in the area making the specification required.

So rather than have the drier doing nothing, we bought wet wheat. The quality has been first class, with some clean samples delivered at a moisture level we can cope with.

Its not often that a bacon pig realises more that 1t of grain, but with the price being £1/kg and grain in the mid-£60s/t, this is actually happening. Lets hope it continues.

When you hear utterances from large processors that they require lower pig prices to make money, it does send ripples around the industry again. With fewer being slaughtered each week, lets hope it is hot air.

When you make alterations in a pig unit, you always fear they will make no difference at all. This was how I felt when we decided we were struggling to get the newly weaned pig off to the start required.

Wet feeding straight from weaning didnt work and straw bedding is difficult to keep clean. So I came up with the idea of a partially slatted pen, with a 5cm (2in) gap under plastic slats on a sloping floor.

Its working a treat. Pigs are only in it for 12 days before they move on to flat decks and wet feed. In this time we can really get them going on purchased creep for the first few days and then on a home-mixed creep for the rest of the period.

Its all down to excellent hygiene with no build-up of problems between batches, and importantly it cost little to convert. &#42

Bacon pigs, selling at £1/kg, are currently worth more than 1t of wheat each. Long may this rare trend continue, says Dennis Bridgeford.

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

Spare tractor wheels are heavy, awkward loads that are frequently moved, eg when fitting dual wheels or as part of changing between conventional, row-crop and low ground pressure sizes. The effort needed to roll the wheel when it is vertical can be deceptively small but once the wheel starts to lean, it quickly becomes unstable and a major manual handling problem.

The risk of injury is even greater when you have to align wheel studs and can be increased by the ground surface where the wheels are handled. It is tempting for one person to try to do the job alone and often people will leave wheels leaning against a wall when they have finished, making the next move easier but posing a big risk to children.

The solution – use a mechanical wheel handler, either as a free-standing unit or as an attachment on a lift truck. Wheel handlers can lift, carry, rotate and tilt wheels to aid fitting and removal from the tractor.

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

BEDS/BUCKS/HERTS

Wed, Oct 18, 12 noon. Meet at Red

Lion, Elstow, followed by visit to Elstow Recycling Plant, Wilstead Road, Elstow, Bedford. Contact Anita Johnson

(01525-220304).

CORNWALL

Tue, Oct 13, 12 for 12.30pm. Autumn lunch at Treglos Hotel, Constantine Bay. Contact Jane (01841-532648) asap.

CUMBRIA-PENRITH

Wed, Nov 8. Coach leaves Great Strickland 8 am, Southend car park 8.30am for Christmas shopping at Newcastle. Bring coffee for the coach. Contact Hilary Mounsey (01768-484274) or Allison Wilson (01768-484433).

GLOUCESTER

Tue, Oct 17, 8pm. Meet at the Gloucester Club, Sandhurst Lane for a

talk on behalf of the Princes Trust.

Contact Phyllis Charter (01452-830435).

GWENT

Thur, Oct 19, 2pm. Meet at Hop Pocket, Bishops Frome. Possible guided tour. Crafts and tea available. Contact

Gwen Charles (01291-689359).

ISLE OF WIGHT

Wed, Oct 18, 12 noon. Meet at Calbourne Water Mill for lunch, please mention at the gate you are with FWC. Contact Sheila (01983-756612).

KENT

Sat, Oct 28, 7pm. Harvest Supper at

the Waggon Lodge, Combourne Farm, Goudhurst. Contact June Wickham

(01580-212426).

OXFORDSHIRE

Wed, Oct 25, 12 noon. Meet at Kings Head, Woodstock. Pub lunch followed by visit to Town Hall to see new historic embroidered wall hangings. Contact

Doris Burton (01993-702433).

ROXBURGHSHIRE

Tue, Oct 24, 7.45pm. Joint meeting with Scottish Borders group at Ashkirk Village Hall with talk and film show by Ray

Walker about her travels. Names to

Eileen (01750-21329) by 22 Oct.

RUTLAND

Thur, Oct 19, 12 for 12.30pm. Meeting

at Rutland County Golf Club. Speaker Eric Stevens on masonry. Contact

Marian Croucher (01780- 764289).

STOUR VALLEY

Thur, Oct 27, 11am. Meet at Batsford Arboretum for guided tour, lunch and Cotswold Falconry Centre. Contact

Jane Ridgway (01295-680262) or

Muriel Paxton (01295-680357).

SOMERSET-MENDIP

Wed, Oct 25, 12-12.30pm. Meet at Crossways, North Wootton, for lunch

followed by a talk and demonstration on skin care by Diana Churchhouse.

Contact Stella (01458-850683) or

Betty (01458-832909)by Oct 20.

SOMERSET-YEOVIL

Mon, Oct 17, 7.30pm. Meet at Marston Magna village hall for talk on medical emergency despatch service with Derek Rudge and his Honda! Contributions for supper, please. Contact Sylvia Reed (01963-350431).

YORKSHIRE-YORK

Tues, Oct 17, 1.45pm. Meet in car park of Ampleforth College for visit to apple orchards. Contact Marion

(01430-860074).

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

Lifting a bale of shavings

Bales of shavings are an awkward size and shape and the plastic wrap creates a slippery surface. With very little to grasp on the bale, it is advisable to wet the hands to improve the grip. Carrying a bale of shavings on the shoulder is not advisable. Lifting a bale of shavings from the floor with a bent back and the legs close together penguin-style is a high-risk manoeuvre.

The safest way to handle a bale of shavings is to bend the legs, keep the back straight and lower the body to enable one end of the bale to be lifted off the floor. The bale can then be rolled up onto its corner and, achieving the best grip, it should be held close to the body, which is then returned to the vertical position, keeping the back straight during the manoeuvre.

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

A coffee break…. A farming family has launched a new coffee, Norfolk Natural, made from barley grown, blended and packaged in the county. The barley and bean blend delivers a full-bodied nutritious drink with the great taste of coffee and all the natural goodness of barley, says Andrew Richardson of makers Grinders Gourmet Coffees. The product could fill a gap in the market for people who have problems with too much caffeine but are unsatisfied by the taste of currently available low and non-caffeine alternatives.

More details on (01603-812800 or www.grinders.uk.com).

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Archive Article: 2000/10/13

13 October 2000

Ground force… Bicester Young Farmers Club recently raised about £2000

for the Andrew Hedges Trust Fund, which promotes personal development

and travel among members of the Oxfordshire group. The event saw more

than 50ha (130 acres) ploughed in 24 hours.

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