Farmer Focus: Training project gaining momentum, says Philip Bradshaw

We are fortunate in having two reservoirs for irrigation water at our disposal.

The use of winter storage reservoirs in the fens is a win for everyone: The surplus drainage water is pumped from a dyke into the reservoir during the winter months, reducing the amount that has to be pumped out to sea by the drainage boards, and is then stored for use in the drier times of water shortage.

The creation of these areas of standing water gives useful environmental, wildlife and business diversification benefits, while also adding value to the farm.

One of my most important jobs over the winter months is to refill these reservoirs using portable diesel powered pumps. Unfortunately the pump filling the main reservoir, unaware of the holiday season, decided to develop a small mechanical problem late on Christmas Eve. This necessitated some immediate repairs and a day or two of nervous rehabilitation on the drain side until confidence in the machine returned.

Last year I upgraded to Farmade’s new Gatekeeper software package for office-based field recording and mapping.

Learning how to use this complicated product with my limited intellect and rudimentary IT skills has made the transition a slow one. However, the support from Farmade and some excellent training courses organised by our local training group, hopefully with Landskills funding, has helped me along nicely.

I chair the arable and horticulture sector group for the Landskills East project, which exists to increase skills and training opportunities across the land-based industry in the eastern region.

This project is now gaining great momentum, with the administrative staff very busy as many courses are put forward by the various training providers. It has come together at a fortunate time for the industry as we accept the challenge of producing more food and fuel in an era of increasing regulation and bureaucracy.

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