Voice of the Farmer | May 2021

Date:

The main topic of conversation in the UK farming world at the moment has been tha lack of rain this spring with virtually no rain being recorded in Dorset during April. Our farm diary from 1921 ,100 hundred years ago states that the year was one of the driest on record with the river Tarrant drying up in July and not flowing until January. Also many crops failed to make it to harvest. Let’s hope history does not repeat itself. I am sure all farmers ,growers and gardeners are hoping for some warm rain.

1970’s

Related of to the weather of course is the debate around climate change which is constantly in the news. The possible reasons are very complex and very varied depending on which scientist you listen to. Farming is trying to do its bit by setting out to measure what effects farming practices have on the environment and how we can reach net zero. Through our milk cooperative Arla all producers have been encouraged to carry out a climate check audit to find out the good and bad in our farming activities. The process involves giving information on how much produce was sold off the farm and how much inputs were required to produce these goods. It was designed to measure the efficiency of the farm. As we operate a mixed farm of livestock and crops both can benefit from each other by producing home grown feeds and creating it’s own fertiliser from the animals , thus saving on inputs that need to be purchased. Over we ended up with an average score compared with similar types of farms. I think this showed us that there is still plenty to do to help benefit the climate. The good points showed that a high proportion of the  milk produced came from home grown forages and the crops benefitted from the manures the cattle produced thus reducing the requirement for purchasing so much fertiliser. Impovements suggested were in perhaps covering slurry stores to reduce ammonia emissions  also to produce more of our own protein thereby  reducing the need to import so much .It is early days in  this process but at least we are beginning to take the aim being net zero seriously.

2000’s

The pictures for this month show how far the process of crop sraying has come forward in the terms of safety for the operator and the  crop. One picture was taken in the 1970’s with virtually no protection for the driver and limited means of apply the product accurately  compared to the modern equipment with tractor cabs and GPS driving assistance to allow for a very accurate application of the products.

By: James Cossins

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