Ian Crawford farms 570ha
(1425 acres) of rented
ground from Ashley Hall,
growing crisping and
pre-pack potatoes, milling
wheat, oilseed rape and
beans. He also owns and
manages 2000ha (5000
acres) of mainly arable
land in Australia
WE are off, emigrating to Western Australia next November; the pull of that great southern land is too much to resist.
It has been on the cards for many years and we all realise that now is the time. We will retain 320ha (800 acres) here, growing 80ha (200 acres) of pre-pack or chipping potatoes and 200ha (500 acres) of milling wheat plus industrial set-aside. A simplified system on our better soils that should ease harvest and management. We will return for harvest then go back to Australia for harvest there, just as I do now. The staff here seem to make a better job when Im away so Im confident they will do well without me most of the time.
Harvest progress is better than last year despite rain nearly every day. Thanks to a harvester with hydraulic driven axles, terra tyres and a Caterpillar up front we have not stopped lifting potatoes. Years ago we lifted difficult land first but these days it seems we always start on light land – nowhere else is dry enough to walk on never mind harvest. I can remember buying dust masks and goggles for the pickers it used to be so dusty. How the seasons have changed!
The last wheat has just gone through the mobile drier and I wonder how we ever managed without it. It never ceases to amaze me with its cleaning and drying capacity, operating continuously in Automode, batch after batch with little or no supervision.
I shall not mention the British Potato Council again. I wash my hands of it completely. I am flabbergasted that its levy rates are to increase. If my or your income is reduced, for whatever reason, we cut our cloth accordingly. But not the BPC. It must keep up expenditure no matter what and raises the amount we growers must pay them. Madness. When will farmers wake up and see we are being taken for a ride? The sooner we get to vote them out, the better. *
Ian Crawford is pushing on with the potato harvest at Ashley Hall, Cheshire, but heavy land is impassable and still to be tackled.