Sugar beet harvest delights Andrew Blenkiron

My recent journey north for the Cheshire Farms Competition Society awards presentation dinner – a bit like the Farmers Weekly awards night, but with an earlier finish – reminded me that we are living in a country of many parts. Even on this small area that makes up the UK, we have drought, floods, heat and cold, land of plenty and land of hunger – usually all in the same day.

I often ask myself how can our world which now has over seven billion people support itself? I’m certain that we can’t expect its tender resources to support many more. Nine billion people by 2050 is the figure often quoted. It won’t be us, the farmers of the world that let the side down. The ever resourceful, ever practical providers will always make sure that there is plenty of food available.

I’m not so convinced, however, that fragile ecosystems will supply enough fresh water to sustain all of this new life. I know that they are going to have to go some to ensure there is plenty of energy to give all those with western aspirations all that they demand. All this is even before the inevitable interference from politicians.

Back to life on the ground in Suffolk, sugar beet lifting has been going exceptionally well. More than 40% is lifted and into the Bury St Edmunds factory with good fresh “dirty” beet yields, excellent sugar content and a few loads even breaking the massive 20% barrier.

The beet has left behind fantastic seed-beds to sow wheat into. Well, that can only be bettered by reaching the end of the campaign and being able to say that it ended as well as it started. Fingers crossed, none of that pre-Christmas frost this year please.

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