Farmer Focus: Andrew Charlton is looking beyond peak oil flow

The completion of winter ploughing gives me a brief chance to lift my head from the grindstone and look at what is going on in the wider world. I’ve become involved, albeit on the fringes, of the local Transition Town Group for Downham Market.

The Transition movement is simple to understand if you accept that the world has probably already passed the point of peak oil flow. By 2050 we’re all going to have to accept great changes to our lifestyles.

Principal in this concept is a radical rethink on food production and distribution. It involves communities being able to work together (that alone is revolutionary) to rely on local, seasonal supplies of food, not just for homes, but schools, hospitals, offices and so on.

This will require huge changes in thinking by much of the population. There is a long way to go, but we have to start somewhere.

The busy UK Grain event also gave me a chance to get away from the farm for a few hours to see what could be done better to help dry and condition grain.

Earlier this autumn I had a brainwave about getting my pedestal-based system to really do some good. I remembered I had some air extraction fans from an old poultry unit, so I mounted them in the roof vents of the main grain store to extract the moist, warm air that normally just recirculates. As a result the grain actually started to dry. Simple when you think about it.

So my plan for 2009 is to invest in a basic controller to switch the fans off and on automatically according to humidity levels. The question then is will 2009 be a wet harvest? The way things are going I think you can bet on it.

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