Archive Article: 2001/06/15 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

After months without sales, many farmers relished the chance to

get out off their farms and meet up with some farming mates.

An enormous turnout at the York Auction Centre, Murton, York,

ensured a brisk trade for over 4000 lots, as FW discovered

Every vehicle was disinfected on entry, which caused a six-mile tailback on the A64 at York. It took some as long as an hour and a half to get in.

A big crowd followed the sale around, with silage and hay- making equipment probably in best demand, says York Machinery Sales auctioneer Richard Tasker.

There was trade for everything, although no colossal prices, says Mr Tasker. "I dont think I have ever sold such a high percentage of tractors – about 70% cleared."

Its not just big tackle. Ian Biggins (left) and John Pool walked away with this assortment of small equipment.

Machinery dealer and farmer Charles Pain from Fylingdales Moor had a good day by all accounts.

Sutton Bank farmer Steve Jones explains to nine-year-old son Ross what all the fuss is about.

Local farmers Tony Pearson from Wilberfoss (left) and Calvert Alison from Barmby Moor catch up.

Its a "tyre-ing" task.

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

If farmers thought MAFF a cumbersome department mired in red tape, they could be even less impressed with its successor.

The most obvious characteristic of Department fo


Even more important to keep lid on pollution

UK farming has made great progress towards safeguarding the environment in recent years.

The livestock sector in particular has, with encouragement from the Environment Agency, made great efforts to curb pollution.

True, a lack of cash has been blamed for it lagging behind other industries in reducing incidents. And the weather has also caused some extreme difficulties particularly with slurry and manure storage.

But with the recent changes in government it will be even more important for livestock producers to minimise the risks of pollution.

Industry united against 20-day standstill plan

Seldom does the industry unite so strongly on a single issue.

But farmers leaders have joined together to condemn the governments proposed 20-day standstill on livestock.

The plans aim, to cut the risk of rapid disease spread that fuelled foot-and-mouth, must be right. But the method is not.

Responses to the proposal, handed to ministers this week, spell out the disaster that would befall our livestock industry if this idea were introduced. It would lock up vital livestock movements and cost millions.

The industry has come up with alternative plans, which will meet the governments aims at less cost. Ministers at the new Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs should act swiftly.

The old plan cannot work. DEFRA should establish a working party with industry as soon as possible to produce a viable alternative.

Firms must help meet stewardship burden

Fighting off proposals to tax pesticides, which could cost the industry £120m a year, is vitally important.

But is everyone playing their full part?

Farmers could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. After all, they are expected to fork out more than £11m a year on a range of voluntary stewardship measures, compared with nearer £2m from the agchem makers.

But maintaining a united front now, to work with this new greener-than-ever government, is vital. Manufacturers have a major task to support, encourage and help growers meet this hefty stewardship burden.

Genesis move backs whole-farm assurance

Whole-farm assurance makes perfect sense – it avoids duplicate farm visits, cuts costs and promotes best practice across the entire farm.

So, not surprisingly, the whole-farm assurance scheme operator Genesis has declined an offer to verify the combinable crops-only ACCS scheme.

Genesiss decision could be regarded as divisive. But let us hope it prompts other organisers and the NFU to redouble their efforts to seek a whole-farm assurance scheme. Only such a comprehensive scheme will give consumers the full reassurance they demand.

Not big ideas, small returnable containers

Good idea, fine intentions, and plausible logistics, but will they become popular?

Returnable containers for agrochemicals have long captured the imagination of some, but have never achieved widespread popularity.

For years agrochemical companies have experimented with a variety of systems with only limited success. Will their latest introduction, a 640-litre international bulk container, approved to hold glyphosate, fare any better?

Perhaps it is time agrochemical companies ditched grand solutions to the problem of container disposal and concentrated instead on developing small returnable containers for the mass market.

On your feet – the march may still be on

Marching on London is an ideal way of showing the government that the countryside means business.

For too long our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. So it is good news that the Countryside Alliance is still considering holding the Countryside March. The event, cancelled in the spring due to foot-and-mouth, could now go ahead this autumn.

As the Alliances chief executive explains to Farmlife, whether or not the Alliance holds the event also depends partly on the potential level of support. So make your views known. If you want to March, tell the Alliance.

You might yet get the chance to vote with your feet.

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

Digging deep… NFU president Ben Gill (left) cuts the first turf in preparation for Amelcas multi-million £ milk plant at the new Dove Valley site at Foston, Derbys. With him are local MP Mark Todd (centre) and Amelca managing director Len Jackson. The company, backed by investment from 150 local farmers, recently bought the nine-acre site on the A50, M1-M6 link road. Building work on the multi-purpose factory is expected to start this weekend.

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

Harvest 2002 will fill the info gap

Frustrated there was no Cereals event this week? Missing the usual round of field demos to help plan crop and business strategy for 2002? Then make a bee-line for the farmers weekly/Farmacy Harvest 2002 seminar at the ICI Centre, Peterborough, on July 12. See p48 for details.

Better than French and German alternatives was the verdict for British wheats Charger, Malacca, Claire and Consort at a recent Bread Baking Workshop in Lisbon, Portugal, organised by the Home-Grown Cereals Authority. Millers and bakers from Greece, Portugal, Spain and Morocco were impressed with the performance of UK grain in traditional bread-making processes. "We believe UK wheats are technically superior to their French counterparts," said Jose Aguiar of the Portugese Millers Association. "They also have the added advantage of traceability, which is increasingly demanded by our customers."

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001


DALGETY Arable has acquired the direct farm sales business of Interfarm (UK) only, not as reported last week.

The deal includes several agronomists and current stock, and Dalgety will occupy the Dereham and Doddington depots under licence for three months.

The other, larger division of Interfarm, which distributes Rohm and Haas products to the trade in the UK, is not affected by the sale and remains a private company. &#42

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

New Labours landslide

victory has seen the

emergence of a new

department to shape

farmings destiny. In

order to have a say in

that future farmers

must make their

voices heard

It never ceases to amaze me that after months, if not years, of promoting a package of policies, the day after an election, members of the losing party bare their souls and admit they got it wrong.

It always happens, like the bursting of a dam behind which so many insincerities have been trapped that they must be released. Perhaps it is good for the defeated soul. But it puts into perspective the false and fickle nature of politics which is more about gaining, or regaining power than it is about standing up for what you believe in.

Perhaps the saddest thing about the result of the election is that any party, of whichever colour, should continue to have such an enormous majority. It gives the victors the unrestrained ability to bulldoze through any policy they wish. And it almost certainly militates against minorities – like farmers.

However, we are where we are and will have no chance to change those elected last week for four or five years. William Hague did the honourable thing and fell on his sword, while admitting his "strategy was flawed". Perhaps he and his party might have done better if they had listened to the general population instead of listening to one another. Perhaps we farmers, as we get to grips with the demise of MAFF and the emergence of the new department that will control our destiny, might do well to do likewise.

Because there is little doubt that part of the reason for the marginalisation of agriculture, of which the new Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is a consequence, is because of our industrys failure to recognise and respond to what was going on around us. We claim to want progress in farming methodology, but we reject change in other areas of activity. If the new department does nothing else, it will force a reassessment of farmings place in the economy and, let us hope, a more enlightened approach from some farmers.

Because most historic affiliations with MAFF will disappear. True, some of the existing MAFF personnel are likely to be moved across to the new department under Margaret Beckett. But given recent and ongoing events, such as the foot-and-mouth debacle, it seems unlikely that many will be given positions of authority. It must be assumed that a new team of senior civil servants will be appointed and a new set of relationships will have to be established with them and their political masters. They are unlikely to possess agricultural knowledge and their sympathies will be with consumers rather than producers.

Furthermore, it is this new and unknown team that will supervise the promised review of agriculture in the wake of F&M. The questions that will be asked will include: Should the livestock industry be allowed to return to its previous stocking levels? The answer will almost certainly be No. Can intensive farming methods, established 20 or 30 years ago, be allowed to continue in the face of consumer rejection? Again the likely answer will be No. And, even more crucially, should the farming industry continue to produce food commodities, or should it devote most of its energies to other things like conservation, tourism and the development of other rural-based industries?

I am quite clear that the answer to that last question should be that agriculture must do all of those things, with food as the core. Moreover, if the industry is inhibited from producing food, it will find it impossible to fulfil the non-farming objectives. In Euro-speak, farmers need to practise multifunctionality, just as they have done increasingly over recent years. And that is not only for the good of agriculture, but also in the best interests of almost 60m other British people.

This is a key message that must be impressed upon, and reinforced to, the members of the agriculture review body, when it is set up. And farmers will only persuade its members to support and, yes, protect them, if they can demonstrate that the industry is in touch with contemporary society; that it can and will respond to the wishes of consumers; and that farmers care as much, if not more, about the countryside in which they operate than the rest of the population.

Those are the top current priorities, whether we like it or not, and if we refuse to accept them, we will find ourselves quickly replaced by foreign farmers whose produce is cheap and whose ethics are of little concern because their production is out of sight.

So, the next few months are crucial. Agriculture can decide to co-operate and, in return, may be helped to survive. Or it can stick to its old ways and go the way of the dinosaur, the dodo and British Coal. Which is it to be? May I suggest, when you have read this, that you decide which direction you favour, then write and tell your newly elected MP so that he or she can use parliamentary influence to try to make it happen. That is what MPs are for and there has never been a greater need to get them on farmers side than the present.

…the next few

months are crucial. Agriculture can decide to co-operate and, in return, survive. Or it can stick to its old ways and go the way of the dinosaur, the dodo and British Coal.

Which is it

to be?

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

Tim Piper

Tim Piper farms at

Churchlands on the edge

of Romney Marsh, Kent.

Wheat, barley, oilseed rape,

herbage seed and vining

peas occupy 890ha

(2200 acres) of the

1105ha (2730 acre) unit

IT didnt need an expert meteorologist to work out that, having had approximately 147cm (58in) of rain in the year to Apr 30, a long dry spell would follow.

Our spring barley and spring rape are suffering seriously from lack of moisture and spring wheat, while looking considerably better, certainly wont overload the combine. Inputs to all spring crops are being kept to the bare minimum. Spring cereals are racing through their growth stages and, in the hope of keeping them growing, we will try tospoon-feed them with liquid nitrogen to enhance green leaf area and boost proteins when we get to the milky ripe stage.

We are getting to that time of the year when all those early spring decisions on weed control come back to haunt us. They were made "with the economics of growing wheat foremost in mind" but, as little patches of black grass and wild oats show their ugly heads above the wheat, one wonders whether the economy was justified.

Travelling around the countryside it would seem there are many other people in the same position, a lot considerably worse. Trade estimates for a 12m tonne wheat harvest are being optimistic I think. But only time will tell.

Vining and dried peas are enjoying the warm sunny weather. Vining pea harvest is only just around the corner with a start at the end of this month or early in July. We finished making the first cut silage yesterday and will now concentrate on cleaning out cattle yards and grain stores.

Normally we are eagerly awaiting harvest, but this year I have to admit to a certain amount of trepidation. I know it will not be good but somehow I am hoping it might not be as bad as we fear.

Who knows what lies ahead for farming in the next 4-5 years following Labours election victory? The probable new Ministry of Rural Affairs name bears a striking resemblance to Monty Pythons Ministry of Silly Walks! &#42

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

Stewart Hayllor

Stewart Hayllor farms 343ha

(850 acres) of owned and

rented land from Blackler

Barton, Landscove, Devon,

growing cereals and

combinable breaks. Organic

vegetables occupy 24ha

(60 acres) and a further

160ha (400 acres) is farmed

on contract

IT was almost as certain as Labours election victory. After months and months of rain, crops are now suffering from drought.

Virtually no rain has fallen in the past month and sunny weather and drying winds have scorched the soil, especially on our lighter fields. Claire winter wheat appears hardest hit by drought, with spotting on leaf three and two. It looks a little like septoria but is actually drought stress, something our ADAS consultant Bill Butler has been finding on other crops of Claire in the region.

In terms of disease, the wheats are very clean, with nothing on the top four leaves and no mildew even on Claire. The flag-leaf spray used so far has been 0.3 litres/ha of Opus (epoxiconizole) plus 0.6 litres/ha of Amistar (azoxystrobin). With the exception of one late-planted field, the winter oats are looking very good. Alto (cyproconazole), at just 0.2 litres/ha, has kept the crop clean.

Winter beans have also had a dose of Alto, initially at 0.2 litres/ha with Bravo (chlorothalonil) at 1.0 litre/ha, then followed up with Alto alone at 0.3 litres/ha just before the crop was too high to spray with a tractor. Now the crop has pods set in the lower branches and no chocolate spot or rust.

I wholeheartedly agree with David Richardsons suggestion that oilseed rape should be renamed Canola (FW May 25). With that in mind, our Canola has set a large number of pods during what appeared to be a long period of flowering. Hopefully the yield will reflect my optimism for the crop.

Organic potatoes are showing well in their rows and mechanical weeding has worked well on the whole. However, one field has needed some hand-weeding of charlock. As with all our crops, steady rain would be appreciated. There is a surprising amount of moisture in the ridges of our first planted field but later planting and mechanical weeding have left the last planted field very dry. &#42

Beans are clean with lower pods set, but like everything else, they could do with some rain now, says Devon grower Stewart Hayllor.

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

Peter Hogg

Peter Hogg farms in

partnership with his brother

at Causey Park Farm, near

Morpeth, Northumberland.

Half the 450ha (1100-acre)

heavyland farm is in crops,

mainly winter wheat, barley

and oilseed rape, plus a few


TODAY I filled the sprayer. Or perhaps I should say todays job was to fill the sprayer.

You see, it was like this. Some late-sown wheat had only just reached the T1 spraying stage and had not received a single input. Maybe I could grow it as an organic crop? A quick look at the silly rules of the Soil Association ruled that out, so on went a hefty dollop of nitrogen while I got the sprayer out of the shed.

A crop inspection revealed grass weeds, broad-leaved weeds, diseases and manganese deficiency. Midges were also in abundance. Having acquired the necessary corrective chemicals, I set about doing a Local Environment Risk Assessment for each chemical, or rather pesticide, ie a LERAP.

By now, more than two hours had passed and I hadnt opened a can. But things got worse when I opened the boxes containing the chemicals and discovered they were all in 1ha (2.5 acre) containers, each requiring 30 seconds shaking before removing the cap and foil and pouring the contents into the sprayer – lets say a minutes operation for each.

A tank-full on our sprayer covers 20ha, so that was 20 minutes for the grassweed killer, and the same for the broad-leaved weed killer, growth regulator, fungicide, insecticide and manganese. Finally I added a wetter. A total of 120 cans, taking a further two hours.

After an EU law compulsory rest break, it was back to work. I rinsed each can out three times as instructed, a total of 360 operations, which took a further three hours.

Dark clouds were now appearing on the horizon and the wind seemed to be picking up. A quick call to the local weather station confirmed my fears – rain within a couple of hours. The sprayer is now full and sitting in the yard. And the forecast? Rain, wind, storms and floods.

If the chemicals had been in 10 or 20ha containers, the job would have been done before lunch. Would the pesticide stewardship committee please take note. &#42

Let me tell you a story. Today I was going to go spraying, says Peter Hogg from Causey Park Farm, near Morpeth, Northumberland.

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

John Best

John Best farms 320ha

(791 acres) from Acton House

Farm, Pointspass, Co Down.

Wheat, conservation-grade

oats and potatoes are main

crops on his 220ha (544 acres)

of clay loam arable land

THANKFULLY, the election will soon be forgotten. For agriculture, I feel it does not matter very much which party is in government. Certainly, in Northern Ireland, party politics takes precedence over agriculture or indeed any commercial consideration affecting the local economy.

We are very fortunate in that we have a Stormont agriculture minister who has been very positive and demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of farming during difficult times. I hope there are no plans to change the title of our Department of Agriculture into a Department of Rural Affairs, further eroding the role of farmers as food producers.

Fieldwork is up to date. Excellent growing conditions for most of May gave even our most backward crops an appearance of respectability, at least when viewed from the road by my neighbours, that is.

Oats especially have improved dramatically and the final nitrogen application on Feb-drilled crops is a difficult call. Early development was slow, so no growth regulator was applied at GS31 but rapid development since has resulted in a very lush crop which could prove difficult to keep standing. However, the crop is very clean, having had 0.15 litres/ha of Fortress (quinoxyfen) plus magnesium. Manganese and sulphur will be added in the next few days.

Winter wheat has been slower to develop. Oct-drilled crops of Charger and Consort are heading, while Feb-drilled crops are still at flag leaf. All had a T1 spray of 0.6 litres/ha of Opus (epoxiconazole) and, with low disease pressure and virtually no septoria, the Charger and Consort have just had a straight 0.6 litres/ha of Amistar (azoxystrobin) at T2.

A low level of mildew in the Chablis spring wheat was treated with 0.5 litres/ha of Tern (fenpropidin) plus 0.6 litres/ha of Starane (fluoroxypyr) to control the large numbers of volunteer potatoes that have appeared.

I am optimistic about the yield potential of the crops given some decent weather, but my optimism is somewhat dulled by the effect that exchange rates will have on reducing arable area payments. &#42

Crops are looking well, at least from the road, says John Best in Co Down.

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

THE Environment Agency has awarded a £100m contract to improve the defences of farmland and residential areas in the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads. The go-ahead, involving work over a period of 20 years, has been made possible by grant aid from MAFF. &#42

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

Peter Delbridge

Peter Delbridge farms 162ha

(400 acres) in the Exmoor

National Park, near South

Molton, Devon. The farm is

mostly permanent grass,

classed as less favoured and

environmentally sensitive,

and all above 300m

(1000ft). It is stocked with

800 ewes, replacement ewe

lambs, 60 spring calving

sucklers and their followers

BY the time you read this we will have a new government. We will also be able to assess the true state of the foot-and-mouth outbreak. Needless to say, any future outbreaks will be blamed on producers.

With vets and private MAFF contractors forced to sign the Official Secrets Act, we shall never know the true extent of the official cock-ups that have made this disaster bigger than it should have been.

When Mr Blair announced the election at the choreographed launch at a girls school in Southwark, he spoke of a nation where everybody had a right to succeed; hard work would be properly rewarded and there would be a tolerance of minorities.

I was spreading fertiliser at the time. As a livestock farmer, with an interest in field sports, it took me 1.5ha (four acres) to recover from the shock of realising he was referring to this country. Neighbours will know which field I was in by the alternate yellow and dark green stripes.

May has been a kind month and cattle have been gleefully evicted from winter accommodation. In spite of MAFFs advice, cattle are grazing alongside sheep. The south-western flank of Exmoor used to be regarded as the densest sheep populated area in the world. I dont know whether it still is, but trying to find grazing free of sheep since February has been as easy as finding rocking horse poo.

However, cattle will quickly tell me if I have a problem, which is something I want to know sooner rather than later.

The farm is a fairly compact unit, with council roads running through the middle, which is normally a great asset. But it has meant getting local licences for each crossing. The movement of 250 ewe hogs 136m (150 yards) along a road now takes two-and-a-half hours because they have to be transferred by trailer.

To cut down on future movements, yearling cattle have been wormed using boluses. Undoubt-edly, this will save future labour. But at about £8/animal boluses seem expensive and I would love to know the retail price to our competitors in other countries around the globe. &#42

Finding sheep grazing post foot-and-mouth is about as easy as spotting rocking horse poo, says Peter Delbridge.

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson farms a

325ha (800-acre) mixed

arable and dairy unit near

Kings Lynn, Norfolk. The

200 dairy cows average

6500 litres on a simple, high

forage system. They are

allocated 40ha (100 acres)

of permanent pasture,

44ha (110 acres) of short

term leys and maize grown

in the arable rotation

WE have come to the end of our intensive six-week serving period and have managed to AI 180 out of 187 cows, which I was pleased with. It is now up to the sweeper bull, which will run with cows for four weeks.

A young Simmental bull has been hired from a local farm. The young chap has had a fairly dramatic introduction to adult life – he was introduced to 190 dairy cows. He looked a bit apprehensive, but hopefully many of them should already be in calf.

Cows are milking well and, with a mixed ration, seem to be have a flatter lactation curve. Despite adequate amounts of grass, we are still feeding 15kg maize silage/cow. This is to guarantee good energy intakes for high yielders and to act as a carrier for the wheat and protein blend. The real justification for this will, hopefully, be reflected in good conception rates.

When embarking on a new system, various unforeseen problems keep arising. The latest one is low milk fat. The problem is having high yielding spring calving cows grazing grass. Our fat levels are currently 3.5%. We will have to use our feeder wagon to formulate a buffer ration which will stop fat levels dropping too far and are trying sodium bicarbonate to see whether it will raise them.

For a number of years we have been taking a catch crop of Westerwolds ryegrass. We drill the ryegrass after winter wheat, then take a cut of big bale silage before drilling maize. This has worked well, except for this year which has been a disaster. The grass has looked awful, being a sickly yellow colour with no growth to it. We ended up cutting our losses, taking an early silage cut to ensure we get a good crop of maize.

Grass tests show the most likely cause to be sulphur deficiency. We have also noticed pale patches in our light land wheats for the first time this year, which again is being put down to lack of sulphur. Obviously, Norfolk air is cleaner than we thought. &#42

Despite good grass growth, Richard Thompson is still feeding 15kg/cow of maize silage to boost energy intakes.

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

SINGING sensation Becky Taylor, who sprang to fame performing at the Farm Aid Appeal concert, has released a single to help farmers hit by foot-and-mouth.

Twelve-year-old Becky, who thrilled the 5000-strong audience with her stage debut at the concert, was snapped up by EMI and has now released a specially recorded double-A side, "Song of Dreams".

"Singing at the Royal Albert Hall was brilliant but I was very sad to hear about the farmers and how much they and their animals have suffered," she says. "Im really glad that this single will raise money to help them.

"I started singing when I was four years old. I used to sing from behind a bush at my grandmas house because I was too shy to sing in front of anybody then."

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

Hello Dolly… A Victorian washday is recreated by Ann Holubecki (left), who demonstrates a dolly peg in a dolly tub, while Brenda Watering (centre) shows how a goffering iron was used to press ribbons and Evelyn Abraham uses a flat iron heated on the range. The demonstration was at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes, North Yorks – where visitors will be regularly treated to such displays in a programme of summer events organised by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

Farmers Weekly wants to say a big thank you to everyone who has donated money and given help and support to those in need following the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Money contributed to the emergency funds is throwing a lifeline to many families. Every penny really does make a difference. People have also rallied round to support farmers, with acts of kindness, offers of support and resources.

Mrs D E Pozniak of Torquay, Devon, has given £25 to the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution. "Although born a towny, I have a love of the countryside, as many others do, and ones heart goes out to those who witness their lifes work going up in flames. I am sorry that I can only afford this amount as I am a pensioner."

Promar International raised more than £1100 for the RABI with a tractor pull through the town centre in Newbury, Berks. The event, "driven by the muscle power of 18 Promar employees", raised the money through corporate donations, street collections, personal sponsorship, a cake sale and a T-shirt sale.

Francine Morris Swift sent £50 from the USA to the RABI. "My late husband and I are the first generation of both our families to be off the land completely," she wrote in her letter accompanying the donation. "He died in mid-January without knowing, thank goodness, what was about to happen to a countryside we both loved.

"I think you will like to know that farmers, stockmen and all others affected by the hoof-and-mouth crisis were mentioned in our parish prayers at St Albans Episcopal Church in Washington DC."

&#8226 Have you or someone you know put your hand in your pocket or acted in response to the current crisis? If so, let us know. Call 020 8652 4928 or e-mail

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Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

Knight trailed unit is simple but effective

GROWERS choosing not to take the self-propelled sprayer route have a new trailed sprayer to consider from Knight Farm Machinery.

Built to carry a 4000-litre tank and 40m (131ft) aluminium boom, the Knight 4000 is based on an all-new heavy-duty chassis, which is longer than its predecessors to accommodate the wide boom when folded, and has a tougher axle.

A 400-litre polypropylene clean water reservoir sits in front of the main tank, with a stainless steel chemical induction hopper alongside the control valves to the left-hand side. The standard six-cylinder pump delivers up to 250 litres/min.

RDS electronics provide automatic output regulation, there is a Ramsay regulator to control sprayline pressure, and electric motorised ball valves switch each boom section on and off. Knights Smart Track electronics control the steering axle which, says the company, is the only tracking system suitable for a sprayer of this size. &#42

Agribuggy is given minor refinements

PERHAPS it should be called Phoenix, but Kellands Agricultural Spraying Supplies is happy to continue using the familiar Agribuggy name for the low-ground pressure vehicle it is manufacturing now Frazier is no longer trading.

The reincarnated Agribuggy gets a new cab plus redesigned engine cover, spray tank and mudguards. Based on the Stealth TDi model, the Agribuggy keeps its 111hp Land Rover turbo diesel engine, auto transmission and Melo axles and has only slight revisions to the chassis.

"This continuity in the components used will ensure reliability, while the new cab will give a modern and user-friendly working environment for the operator," says Chris Kelland.

"Following the wettest spring spraying season in years, I think we shall see a resurgence of interest in low-ground pressure sprayers." &#42

Chafer caters for small-scale grower

A SIMPLER, less complex trailed sprayer is being added to the Chafer Machinery range to cater for growers smaller than the companys typical customer.

"While our E-series sprayer caters for the larger farm or estate, the C-Series model will bring the benefits of this machine to the 500 to 1000-acre grower without compromising on design and construction," says Chris Allen of Chafer Machinery.

The C-Series sprayer shares many of the proven components of its larger sister, but has a simpler overall specification. Features include Chafers trademark stainless steel tank, ranging in capacity from 2000 to 3000 litres, a 300-litre clean water reservoir, Chafer gull-wing booms from 18m to 24m wide, and a high-output 650 litres/min centrifugal pump.

Two rotary valves will control liquid source and destination, making it easier for operators to set up the liquid system correctly for every function, from filling to tank washing.

Options include an auto-tracking axle and axle suspension, twin stainless steel spraylines and automatic rate control. &#42

French attempt to improve visibility

AS is traditional with Matrot self-propelled machines, the French manufacturers latest model – the Maestria – carries its spray boom up front to give the operator a clear view of his work. Which is just as well, because booms can be up to 48m (157ft) wide!

The engine, with a choice of outputs ranging from 125hp to 224hp, is mounted in the tail to counterbalance the weight of the booms, while the spray tank – from 3000 to 4500 litres capacity – are positioned in the middle to maintain consistent weight distribution over the two axles.

Pneumatic suspension for both axles is "active" is as much as it responds to changes in the weight of the machine as the tank contents decrease. That maintains a consistent ride height, says Matrot.

The Maestrias hydro-mechanical transmission (hydrostatic drive through mechanical axles) comes geared to 25kph in standard form, with one road and three field speeds.

Operators keen to get on can go for the 40kph version, which has a mechanical splitter, giving four speeds in-field and on-road.

A centre differential has been added to the transmission to prevent driveline wind-up due to changes in weight distribution and tyre deflection. &#42

Sands gets most out of ultrasonics

SANDS Agricultural Machinery is confident that it has cracked ultrasonic sensing technology by using it to regulate boom height and balance on the Sands M Class self-propelled sprayer.

With working widths up to 36m – and folding within the HSEs 4m maximum height guidelines – the boom on this machine can be operated at full width or 12m or 24m with sections folded out of the way.

The ultrasonic sensors are used to continuously monitor boom height above the ground or crop, with actuators set in motion should the boom need to be levelled to keep it the correct height above the spray target. Another useful feature is that the boom is automatically raised 200mm (8in) when the spray control is switched off to reduce the risk of the boom end striking the ground during a headland turn.

New electronics have been added to the M Class models chassis, which now boasts Poclains latest hydrostatic drive system with automatic wheel slip control. The "Smart" system eliminates wheel slip so the sprayer can keep working on hills and slippery field surfaces.

Sensors monitor the rotation speed of all four wheels 60 times every revolution. When one wheel rotates faster than a pre-selected limit based on the average speed of the others, a hydraulic valve regulates the flow of oil to that wheels motor to reduce drive torque.

The system also senses steering angle to ensure the oil flow modulation does not cut in during tight turns when the outer wheels rotate faster than the inner ones. &#42

Get a better view out of Case cab

A WRAP-around windscreen that gives a clearer view of surroundings is the most obvious change brought by fitting a new cab to Case-IH GEM self-propelled sprayers. But delve inside, and the cab reveals joystick-mounted controls, a drinks cooler, heated rear window and a buddy seat.

This new cab for the Case-IH SP2500 and SP3000 also has the option of electrically adjusted rear view mirrors which have separate distant and close images. The idea is to give the driver the best possible view to the rear of the machines.

High-volume plumbing is now fitted, along with two multi-function valves instead of the usual collection of individual taps. That simplifies control selection for different settings. There is also a venturi fast-fill system and pump-out facility and optional stainless steel tanks. &#42

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