Farmer Focus: Philip Bradshaw is losing his battle with the pigeons

It’s been a busy start to the year here, Dry frosty weather was ideal for drilling the last ex-sugar beet land with wheat and ploughing some of the ground due for beet in 2009.

I’ve walked most of our land recently, usually carrying batteries or gas bottles to set up bird scarers, and while the winter beans look well, the oilseed rape is under pressure from a seemingly huge increase in pigeon numbers. So a combined strategy of ‘scareymen’, gas bangers and occasional shooting is very necessary.

I’m fortunate that my father, who officially retired several years ago, still likes a few workshop tasks. He’s kept very busy trying to keep our collection of ancient gas bangers operational.

We recently installed a ‘plastic fox’ in some oilseed rape on the farm at Glinton. These foxes are usually excellent on fenland farms at scaring off visiting swans. Unfortunately, the Glinton swans appear to be made of sterner stuff. They’ve been seen passing just over the head of the fox as they swoop down to land majestically a few metres away.

As usual at this time of year I have many meetings and courses to attend.

I’ve recently become a member of the steering group for the Fens Adventurers Local Action Group which will be involved in distributing funds for various projects in the Fenland area.

A significant proportion of the money will be aimed at adding value to agricultural products, farm diversification and vocational training, while also supporting collaborative approaches by farming businesses and others.

Given the substantial amounts available to such groups from the leader funding part of the Rural Development Programme for England, it will be a challenge for all concerned to deliver worthwhile results that make a real difference to the rural and agricultural communities involved.


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