Farmer Focus: Translation confuses Jim Alston

My sister-in-law, who is just starting to learn Italian to broaden her mind, I think, thought it would be a good idea to turn her TomTom navigator from English to Italian to assist the process.

Not only did Roberto (her voice choice) get her lost but he didn’t much help her Italian and to cap it all the instructions on how to get back to English were by then in Italian.

I mention this after I tried to decipher the calibration instructions on the seeder box fitted to a converted deep cultivator for drilling rape. Even though they were in English the translation led to the same action being given three different names. So a simple process became a mental nightmare.

At a local potato event this week one of the more interesting stands had a soil scientist standing in a big hole explaining compaction and just how deep it can be.

With our sandy subsoil it seems compaction is par for the course. But when he explained the problems that a plough can cause when freshly disturbed small soil particles are washed down the profile over winter to form a hard layer I began to doubt my belief that the plough was the right tool on our land.

Then I remembered that in the summer I had attended a Catchment Sensitive Farming meeting where a plough and tined drill produced the best result in terms of run-off.

Sitting at home pondering these contradictions I read yet another article (in Farmers Weekly of course) warning of how many chemicals we are going to be without if the European Commission and DEFRA get their way. Their loss will make previously cheap abundant food expensive and short.

The answer is clear – we need a navigator, and my vote goes to Roberto.

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