Arable Farmer Focus: Philip Bradshaw’s crops come through cold snap intact

Philip Bradshaw’s crops come through cold snap intact

Most of our crops emerged from the snow looking reasonable. Later drilled wheats have regained some colour and there is only a modest area affected to remind us of the wet autumn.

I have been busy daily, both keeping the diesel-powered pump that fills the reservoir operating and on pigeon-scaring patrols. The cold weather seems to have slowed our rabbit population slightly, but the pigeons are as challenging as always.

I enjoyed catching up with some old college friends a few weeks ago. We had an excellent lamb curry and plenty of good discussion. In particular, I noted that many of my peers had moved on to completely different careers.

Indeed, many of us have also diversified and have other business interests. It became apparent that very few of our age group have a son or daughter planning a land-based career. This adds to my feeling that the already ageing body of agriculturalists could well be under-populated in years to come if we cannot encourage more to enter and remain within the industry.

My family enjoyed the annual Straw Bear Festival here in Whittlesey recently. The origin of the day has significant agricultural meaning, and hundreds of locals and visitors enjoyed a day of great cultural and social diversity – and, of course, a bit of a pub crawl.

As usual, with recovery complete, the following day we attended the traditional Plough Sunday service in a local church. We helped bring the old horse-drawn plough to the front for the blessing of the plough, and the soil.

This set us thinking, with only about 20% of our own land ploughed annually, how long before we feel the need to drag in a scaled down tined cultivator or no-till drill instead?

Farmer Focus Arable: Philip Bradshaw

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