Farmer Focus: Getting 100 tractors into Suffolk schools

It’s spring and all systems are go. It’s amazing what difference a few dry days can make on this light land. 

Mid-month we even had a call from the Radio 4 Farming Today programme asking if it was too dry, if the reservoirs were full and if we could cope with the transient drought? Such are the issues that we face on a frequent basis on the thin soils of the Brecks. Needless to say, we had a fair drop of rain the day after the call. 

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

In summary, we have had an excellent spell during most of March, allowing us to get spring crops planted into first-rate soils. It even dried exceptionally well on land following outdoor pigs, allowing us to sow sugar beet fairly early in the month. 

Cold nights did keep the winter cereals and grass under control, but they are just starting to grow away now, with hybrid seed barley for Syngenta looking particularly well.

One of the last jobs the tractors completed before it got busy on the land was to take part in three dates as part of the Tractors in Schools initiative. This fantastic idea, pushed by the president of the Suffolk Agricultural Association and supported by the local newspaper, was to get 100 tractors into primary schools in Suffolk during February. 

Of course, there was much more to it than just the appearance of the expensive bits of kit – there were the friendly faces of farmers to accompany them and impart some of their wisdom and knowledge to the highly responsive audience. Well done to all who took part in taking the farming message to one of our key audiences. If we all did our bit with delivering this message, it would be so very easy.

The next part of getting the important farming message across to the schoolchildren of Suffolk is the Agricultural Association’s Farm Schools Day in April. Again, this is a phenomenal event that brings thousands of children and farmers together at the county showground.

There will be a great number of demonstrations, equipment and fun for all, especially those seasoned (or to be seasoned) vegetable farmers who dress up as carrots. 

Andrew Blenkiron

Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Principal farm enterprises are combinable and root crops, including sugar beet. In addition the estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship.