BBC Top Gear goes agricultural as it plants field of oilseed rape

BBC petrol-head programme Top Gear has quite literally broken new ground with an attempt to grow its own petrol.


Presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were tasked to drill a 25-acre field with oilseed rape on NFU president Peter Kendall’s Bedfordshire farm.


Filming took place last summer and the programme was aired on BBC 2 last night.


The car-mad trio showed limited driving prowess behind the wheels of their three chosen tractors – a Fendt Vario 930, JCB Fastrac 8250, and Case STX Steiger Quadtrac – as they attempted to plough, cultivate and plant their crop.


Earlier in the show, the three had to hitch up to a trailer and reverse it through the Top Gear car park with limited success.


May took 26 minutes to work out how to switch his tractor on, and after an hour had failed to put it into gear.


Clarkson managed to start his JCB and hook onto his trailer but found reversing a challenge too far. “How can you crash into your own trailer…this is stupid…it can’t be done,” he screamed.


And Hammond “took out” a Vauxhall Astra as he backed his rig adding with untypical understatement: “I think I did clip it.”


According to the programme the 25 acres will yield 15t of rapeseed oil which will convert into 3,000 gallons of petrol – enough to drive a typical car 90,000 miles, May stated.


Viewers will have to wait until next autumn before the results will be known, although the presenters did not confirm whether they would be revisiting the exercise.


Read online editor Julian Gairdner’s entry on the Top Gear “field test” on our farming news blog, Food for Thought


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