Archive Article: 1999/09/03

3 September 1999

Get on course for business know-how

Cutting out the middle man is always an appealing thought. Even more so as farmers grow increasingly concerned that supermarket purchasing power is driving farm gate prices down.

Anything which adds to producers profits is worth considering. For many, that has meant selling at farmers markets, off-farm or by mail order.

But where does one acquire the skills to realise such business potential? To find the answer look west. Somersets Cannington College is running part-time EU-funded courses to help farmers make the most of their produce.

Perhaps other agricultural colleges should follow Canningtons example. What better way of turning the governments emphasis on life-long learning into a practical and profitable reality for farmers throughout the UK?

Weighted to give the perfect silage ration

Even a perfect dairy cow ration fails if there is too little space at the trough or feeds are mis-weighed.

In fact, the metabolisable protein system has left much to be desired as cow yields have increased.

So, its reassuring to know that a new rationing system, Feed into Milk, is being developed over the next two years. First results should benefit producers this winter.

The great thing about this project is that nearly all feed suppliers, nutritional advice companies and research funding bodies are making a contribution. Such an industry wide approach is to be welcomed. Not least because producers will see rapidly the benefits of new research.

Country Car Show gets into top gear

If youre interested in 4WD vehicles and fancy a break from the harvest and post-harvest grind, here are two dates you shouldnt miss. Sept 11 and 12 see the first FARMERSWEEKLY 4×4 and Country Car Show at historic Grimsthorpe Castle, near Bourne, Lincs.

Its the first show of its kind aimed specifically at farmers and other 4×4 enthusiasts.

You will have the chance to chat to manufacturers and suppliers and test-ride nearly all the off-roaders and pick-up trucks on the market. And there will be gundog and falconry displays, a clay pigeon shoot, craft fair and fashion show. Theres even a giant adventure playground for the kids. For further details see page 77.

Dont be put off by no-till drill zealots

Some no-till drilling enthusiasts are so keen they put other growers off. However, growing evidence suggests no-till drilling can save £60/ha (£24/acre), boost yield and benefit the environment, provided it is combined with sound agronomy.

Nevertheless, some drills simply cant cope with all UK conditions. That means a conventional approach is still needed as a back-up, adding further to capital cost.

But dont dismiss the no-till approach on all your land. Why not use a neighbour or contractors machine on those fields which are suited?

Stay together – old advice thats still true

Co-operate to survive. Old advice but one which is lent new emphasis by the research of Nuffield Scholar Pamela Gladwin.

Her study of comparative wheat production costs in the US, Canada, France and Poland underlined how co-operation can cut costs.

Although UK growers have long discussed co-operation, they need to act now in order to remain competitive in world markets.

Fewer, larger buyers mean strength is needed in negotiations and it also helps in meeting buyer specification.

United we stand – divided we fall. It may be an old message, but it is none the less valid for that.

Humble pasty raised to heavenly status

A dream folded in heaven. Not our words but those of an avid fan praising Ann Mullers Cornish pasties, featured in this weeks Farmlife Section.

And worthy of praise they are too. Using the best of Cornish ingredients, seasoned and baked to perfection, they prove just how good British food can be.

So, three cheers for Ann who leaped to the humble pastys defence recently when its quality was impugned by a so-called food critic from the US.

Its high time we made far more of great British foods from around the regions.

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