College Calendar: Steve Mears enjoys The Wurzels

Checked shirts, flat caps, handkerchiefs and moleskin trousers are not normally associated with many universities. However, it quickly becomes the norm here at Harper Adams when The Wurzels perform.

The long-awaited performance saw the band play to a packed crowd in the Student Union bar recently. Lyrics like “I got a brand new combine harvester” and “blackbird, I’ll ‘ave thee” soon got the crowd singing away and a brilliant atmosphere going. With a fancy dress theme of West Country Lovers, tickets for the performance sold out in days.

Proceeds from the event went to RABI, the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, along with the cash raised from the charitable tractor pull mentioned last month. The latter was well attended by students and was a really enjoyable afternoon, all in aid of a very worthy cause. Continuing with a charitable theme, the field sports society – along with the clay shooting club – organised a successful charitable clay shoot recently. Held off campus at Doveridge Clay Sports, the competition consisted of a 50-bird sporting set-up, in aid of Help for Heroes.

A good turnout of teams from Harper as well as several other universities, colleges and locals, ensured a high standard of shooting. Teams of four were competing for the Harper Adams SU Field Sports Society Charity Shield along with prizes for individual top scores. A local team, won the Charity shield with a score of 152, and the highest scoring team from Harper, the Barrow Boys, scored a respectable 114. Around £550 was raised for Help for Heroes.

On a more academic note, over the past few weeks I have begun learning about dairy farming in the UK, during animal production lectures. Coming from a non-farming background and having had very little to do with dairy cattle in the past, it has been interesting to learn about this area of the industry.

Tutorial sessions for this module consist of visits to the new dairy unit on the campus farm. Officially opened in early September, the unit is currently milking between 350 to 400 cows, with room for possible expansion to 600 in the future. However, at a cost of £2.3 million I am keen to understand how it can be viable to invest in a unit of this size, particularly with such a volatile milk market.

I have also been working on my agricultural mechanisation assignment. This has involved creating a portfolio of tutorial work that I had observed since September. Despite the assignment being set last term, I had left starting the assignment until the week before it was due in, not a good idea! Fortunately, although it involved several late nights and trips to the library, I managed to get the assignment in on time.

Some of the topics from the Harper Forum that I have found particularly useful this term have included the development of a new bioethanol plant, and Nuffield Scholarships. Richard Whitlock from Frontier Grain presented an interesting talk on his involvement with a new bioethanol production plant in Hull. The plant, when up and running, should have the capacity to produce 420 million litres of bioethanol a year. One-time Farmers Weekly Farmer Focus writer Tim Downes also presented a talk on Nuffield Scholarships.

At the end of the second term gets closer, I am looking forward to the Paddy’s Ball. There are lots of students from Ireland on campus, many of whom are part of the Harper Ireland society. Judging by the enthusiasm of this society, the ball should be a fantastic night and a good way to end my second term on a high.