Simon Beddows applaudes his local college for re-introducing agriculture

I was lucky enough to be invited on a trip to Germany earlier this month to see how the big green giant makes its tractors and combines. It never ceases to amaze me how much technology and engineering goes into the production of modern farm machinery.

What struck me most was the Germans’ attention to detail, particularly where quality control was concerned. Any way, thanks to our local dealer, Farol, and to John Deere for an excellent trip.

Meanwhile, back on the bog that used to be our estate, things have deteriorated further. Since early December the land down by the Thames has been flooded three times. To make matters worse, while the water covered the crop, all the swans and geese descended and grazed off the submerged plants.

My thoughts of getting the last 38ha of wheat drilled have finally been snuffed out and we have cleaned a few more spring oats than originally planned. Oh, and I forgot to mention the pigeons. They are still here, even though the oilseed rape is rapidly disappearing despite bangers, scarecrows and shooting.

Some comments from a local meeting I attended the other evening sum up this year’s frustrations over grain sales. First, the widespread use of suction sampling of lorries which favours light grain and chaff, therefore, distorting the true specific weight. Second, payment for cereals should be along similar lines to oilseed rape with bonus payments for quality. Finally, a request for independent testing at intake.

In view of the forecast shortage of people coming into the industry, it is great news to learn that our local college, BCA, is re-introducing agricultural courses from this September. We have been asked to provide resources for the arable part of both the one-year and two-year courses and this will add to the links that we already have with Reading University.

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