Farmer Focus: Oilseed rape crops face pigeon attack

The turn of the year saw a welcome dip in temperature, with several night frosts – something we didn’t experience last winter.

The cold, wet theme seems set to continue throughout January, with rain, sleet or snow being the order of the day, irrespective of the wind direction.

The cooler spell has led to a huge explosion in the woodpigeon population, with large flocks feeding on local oilseed rape crops and depositing the proceeds in the woods.

See also: Longer rotations and soil moisture at heart of OSR success

We have employed various control methods – from gas bangers and sirens to alarms, scarecrows, whorly faces, rockets and rope bangers – but, alas, most of these seem futile in discouraging the marauding flocks.

It would appear your only hope is that your neighbour has less-effective measures in place than you do.

Aside from pigeon scaring, work on the farm is all about maintenance – both of machinery and ditches. With the season fast approaching, it is surprising how little “dead” time there actually is to get caught up on all the outstanding jobs.

The Covid-19 pandemic was brought sharply into focus after three members of staff (all from the management team) tested positive before Christmas. Thankfully, none of them have seen any lasting effects and the outbreak didn’t spread any further through the workforce.

As we approach a busier and more critical time of year on the farm, we have now had a stark reminder of how vulnerable our business could be, especially with current isolation rules.

It simply wouldn’t be possible to work from home. As a consequence, we have strengthened our working procedures to minimise contact with co-workers and limited machine sharing to reduce the risk as best we can.

Another spin-off from the pandemic has been the way we communicate and disseminate information from our supply partners.

With a plethora of webinar platforms, we are all now getting used to this as the new form of communication.

While this system is a great way to reach out to wider audiences, it does lack the personal touch and the chance for networking.

Hopefully, we can have a mix of face-to-face gatherings backed up by webinars in the very near future. 

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