Farmer Focus: Hoping a new year brings better lorry drivers

A new year with new hopes and wishes. Top of the list for me is the hope that we do not have farming accidents in 2019 on the scale that we have seen of late. Our safety record compared to other industries is dreadful, we must be able to improve.

On a lighter note, I am hoping for the perfect lorry driver for taking our crops away. I have loaded many lorries lately and to be fair most of the drivers are courteous and helpful, but there is definitely room for improvement.

It is always helpful to get a phone call a few days beforehand to make sure we can load on the intended day.

See also: Young agronomist tackles BYDV and fungicide costs

I know a lorry driver’s lot can be a frustrating world of traffic jams, breakdowns, punctures and rejected loads meaning that plan ‘A’ cannot always be executed. In that case give me an update.

Too much to ask?

When the driver is ready to get on their way, it is great if they listen to my directions to the farm, preferably when they are not driving, and even better if they have a map to follow.

When they arrive I like to see them drive in at a nice steady speed and park exactly where I indicate for easy loading, avoiding the overhead cables and holes in the concrete.

Once loading has started, there is the tricky question of sweeping up of the grain heap face. Some drivers are very happy to do this, and if they have a high-vis vest on and keep in sight and safely out of harm’s way this is very much appreciated.

A good driver will keep an eye on the weight and indicate which part of the lorry I should be tipping into.

Then at the final few kilogrammes they will give good clear hand signals about how much more to put in.

While we are filling in the paperwork a little chat is nice, and the icing on the cake is if they have their nickname on a numberplate on the dash.

Now that is not too much to ask is it? Here’s to a safe and Happy New Year to all. Especially lorry drivers.

Christy Willett farms with son Hew on 475ha at Parklands Farm, Galleywood, Essex, growing combinable crops alongside diversifications into horse stables on DIY livery, industrial and office lets. The pair are also AHDB Monitor Farmers.