The comment is brilliant as well
Anton Coaker: End the blame game and give hill farmers credit for flood alleviation
By Western Morning News | Posted: January 06, 2016
OK then, extreme rainfall events, floods, and how it’s all supposedly my fault because I’ve got too many sheep.
Let’s start with ‘all this rain’. Global weather systems naturally oscillate, and one phase of this gigantic shuffling– a huge swell of warmer water flowing across the Pacific- is known as ‘El Nino’. And we’re in one right now, which NASA says is as significant as the previous most extreme one in 1997. They’re known to upset weather patterns worldwide, and it’s very likely a contributory factor.
And we absolutely have had rain like this before. The 13 inches in 24 hours in Northern England last month might’ve been a record, but there are plenty of extremes recorded over the decades. The Lynmouth disaster in 1952 was caused by nine inches of rain falling high on Exmoor in 12 hours, while the 2004 Boscastle flood followed three inches in a single hour, both occurring in August.
Our nation sticks out into the north Atlantic, in the path of an immense ocean current....
Page 430 of 474
Comments: 7 Views: 835Continue reading»
I suppose you might reasonably expect some kind of festive jollity from me, and I’m genuinely sorry to be found lacking. But it’s going to be hard to be especially jolly.
We’ve been spending time pulling together cattle in relentless gales and driving rain, shoving hundreds of them through the race on a blasted December hillside for a TB test- and it takes a certain mindset. I made sure we had staff aplenty, knowing the logistics were an issue, with shortening daylight and everything wanting to be fed as well. Despite starting with a clean set up, the lashing downpours soon resulted in splattering porridge. Every time the latch on the crush gate was released, and a beast freed, it would leap forward. The equal and opposite reaction is a couple of cloven hooves worth of gloop would be flung back at the lucky operative. Often as not, this was me. As a patient and competent vet jabbed and measured, Alison was keeping the paperwork ensconced in her newly rejuvenated hut….1/2 a 1000 gallon diesel-tank stood on end. With 3-4 breeze blocks to perch on, and a table made of a stack of lorry tyres and a slab of oak, I thought I’d made things as homely as I could….goodness but she’s a lucky girl. Apparently though, an entire handling system under cover would be better. Ha! We all know that isn’t going to happen, the cattle lose enough money without giving them a luxury palace from which to do it.
Anyway, the team fed everything through in short order, and the atrocious...Comments: 1 Views: 686Continue reading»
Nearly a year ago I wrote something about an innovative and new spraying technique that is emerging in The Netherlands; the Wingssprayer. This 'wing' is mounted underneath a spray boom and reduces drift. It uses air flow to open up the crop. Small droplets enter the crop which gets a better covering, whilst achieving 99 percent drift reduction. The technique hasn't gone unnoticed in it's home country and many other places in the world.
Most recently Wingssprayer was awarded the Water Innovation Award 2015 in the clean water category. This price was awarder to Wingssprayer founder Harrie Hoeben by the union of water boards in The Netherlands. The jury was particularly impressed because of it's simplicity and the large gain for the environment.
The horizontally mounted Wingssprayer has already proved itself invaluable to arable farmers in the country, delivering 99 percent drift reduction in all conditions. The vertically placed wing is expected to make a huge impact in the fruit growing industry, making it possible to spray with at least 90 percent drift reduction. This means less pesticides can be used and less chemicals contaminate the surface water. According to the jury there is more profit than that just gained financially. Wingssprayer tackles issues at the source, not at the end of the pipeline, so they write in their final verdict.
Wingssprayer developer Hoeben was awarded 15.000 euro to rapidly develop this new project. This money will be used to fund...Views: 934Continue reading»
OK. There’s good news and bad news. First the bad. I realise you don’t want to hear it but…despite heavy advertising showing lithe young things trotting up and down mountains in skin tight outfits, and the projected misconception about the blasted things, buying/receiving/wearing some electronic gadget on your wrist which tells you how fast your heart is ticking, isn’t going to make you fit. Getting out of the armchair and laying off the chocolate bourbons is the trick. Using a gadget to plan your fitness regime, with timetables and maps of your preferred jogging routes spread around you, whilst scoffing down just one more mince pie, doesn’t turn you into a perfect and desirable specimen. I’m sorry to bear this such bad news, but it’s better to get it out of the way.
The good news is much better though. You might’ve noticed the world was watching events in Paris last week, where nations all signed a somewhat less-than-watertight agreement on saving the polar bears-and just watch Barak trying to sell it to Washington if you think the deal is done. Bigger things, however, were happening almost unnoticed over the border in Germany. For as delegates were busily slapping each other on the back, and face painted banner waving protestors yelled outside it was all a fix –with almost everybody having flown there in jet planes in one of the most spectacular bout of ironic hypocrisy ever- the Krauts briefly turned on a fusion reactor.
This happened at the Max Planck...Comments: 2 Views: 680Continue reading»
I do so like to see various farming profitability figures announced. As a rule, I discover that my ability to lose money farming livestock is far from unique. Indeed, depending on how you collate the numbers, I sometimes do quite well! Why, with a favourable wind, my Scotch ewes can sometimes pay for every minute I spend on them, their share of the rent, interest on capital, a realistic contribution to the annual fencing budget….and they certainly should be paying for that… and even leave a margin of a couple of quid.
Likewise, measures of efficiency can be interpreted almost as many ways as there are farmers. When I was a young man I travelled a bit, and folk from just about everywhere I met along the way were convinced their farmers were the most efficient in the world.
The Norwegians employed more families per cow than almost anyone, the Australians the least. The Canadians and Yanks farmed the greatest acreages and tonnages of grain per man, while the Brits and Dutch might be talking about yields per acre. The Kiwi’s could shear more sheep per day, while other Aussies clipped the finest and most valuable wool. The Danes did mention briefly that they were rearing more piglets per farmer than anyone else, but then it was beer O’clock. Other Yanks–on the West Coast- declared they grew more and better apples than anyone else, but were reticent about the Mexicans they had to bus in to pick them.
Various Mediterranean’s had the most olive trees per hectare,...Views: 659Continue reading»
It’s been a funny old week. Firstly, you’ll be as glad as I am, and my ladies are even more pleased, that we’re back into some sweeter round bales now. There’s still 2-300 of the late cut stuff without much of a nose, which will be fed to the fittest-if most reluctant- cows. The weaned calves, cows still rearing calves, and such worthy causes, are enjoying something with the whiff of bottled summer about it. Given we started baling at midsummer, I daresay it’ll get better yet as we work backwards in age .....time travel in a stack of wrapped bales.
Then, listening to the tractor radio as I trundle out and about, I’ve been perplexed by various news items. I’ve been hearing about radical new plans to feed insects to pigs and chickens, using land better, lowering carbon emissions, and all of those good things. Admittedly, the boffin selling it on the radio was waffling about how many extra tonnes of protein we could generate if we were farming maggots, so there’s a way to go on the PR front…I think he’d be better of talking about larvae, or grubs…but maggots? And what really tickled me was that no-one has told my chickens about this development. They’ve been catching and eating anything they can best the whole time. Insects? Cripes, one clutch of our young bantams shut in a run were seen to kill and consume songbirds which got in. And whilst I’ve very little experience of pigs, I understand that’s there’s not much an old sow won’t chew up and recycle, if left to her own...Views: 546Continue reading»
Trust Administrator Colin Smith, James Forrest and Chairman Stephen Cobbald
The Felix Thornley Cobbold Trust convened a conference at the Felix Cobbold Centre, Otley on Thursday 26th November to profile some of the ways in which agricultural improvement is being achieved in East Anglia with the help of grants from the Trust. To date 73 projects have received funding from the Trust.
In his introduction outgoing Trust Chairman Stephen Cobbald gave a short history of the Trust, it's founder and benefactor Felix Thornley Cobbold and a lead in to 5 current funded projects that were then presented to an invited audience.
The conference was entitled "Making A Difference" and as he handed over the Chairmanship to fellow Trustee James Forrest, it became clear how apt that title was with the variety and tangible relevance of the projects supported:
Two research projects from the Plant Pathology Department of the School of Life and Medical Sciences at The University of Hertfordshire; the appropriate control of Phoma stem canker and light leaf spot and preservation of yield in oilseed rape. Ongoing research papers undertaken by Thomas Sewell and Coretta Kloeppel. The latter paper was prsented by Professor Bruce Fitt as Coretta was attending her Grandmother's funeral. In his introduction, Professor Fitt observed that Coretta was a hands-on farmer's Daughter uniquely capable of combining her own OSR plots.
Educating young people "The Suffolk School Farm and...Comments: 11 Views: 1248Continue reading»
Winter feeding is well and truly with us now, with the majority of the cattle expecting their breakfast each day. There’s still a handful of Galloways 2 miles out on the hill, happy picking amongst the abundant rough, and one or two groups of youngsters on better ground still hoovering up what’s left of autumns bounty. With more cold showers forecast, I daresay they’ll be looking for me soon enough. Interestingly, the Galloways with spring calves have pretty much all come home so we can wean the youngsters- meaning lots of bawling around the yard night times at the minute. However, those with new calves are the ones still happy out over.
Opening that huge stack of bales has revealed what we knew all along. The last grass baled was way past its prime, and as well as it’s been saved, it’s got almost no smell at all. I’m insisting the girls eat it first, before they get into better stuff baled earlier. And while I don’t actually speak bovine, I can read the expression on their disappointed faces all too clearly!
I’ve been grappling with fears of cashflow issues, with no BSP cheque likely before next March, and an unresolved dispute holding up HLS. So I’ve kept selling store cattle and the like, rather than get caught with too many at the main TB test, or some slump in trade. I daresay some of us will be in real trouble by the end of winter, and I don’t intend to be on my beam ends if I can help it. The rationale originally was that I could sell some haylage as well,...Views: 953Continue reading»
I’ve had unsettling dream.
In it, all these worthy bodies came up with a much lauded guide on how to keep my cattle safe from TB. One of cornerstones of the guide is advice is to keep wildlife – black and white wildlife- away from my cattle. To help me, the shiny website has all manner of suggestions about fencing my livestock separate from those pesky badgers, and keeping them from getting at the cattle food. I was confused-in this dream- but luckily found myself able to ask some DEFRA big wig. Doing some quick ready reckoning, I explained that I farm something like 300 head of cattle, over an enclosed area of about 600 hectares, plus common grazings. Within, and scattered right across that area, lie numerous active badger setts- 20 plus-, and while I don’t know exactly, there must be nearly as many badgers as bullocks. Most of my cattle spend most of their lives eating and sleeping outdoors, with the wildlife. Each of my neighbouring farmers operates in a similar fashion, albeit with a bit more aplomb and professionalism than Twitface McCoaker. Other than odd bits of woodland, there aren’t any blocks of land which aren’t farmed.
So how, I asked, do we separate wildlife from cattle? Do I fence around each sett? I certainly could do that, if I wanted to starve my badgers to death- which I absolutely don’t. Do I give them little corridors to meet up with each other for procreative purposes? I’m sorry, I’ll stop there. Already the image portrayed is an offensive...Comments: 7 Views: 1289Continue reading»
JP1 comment to preface this article: I would like to make clear that Robert is not expressing an opinion but passing on information that can be assessed – and either accepted or ignored.
Discussion over revised supermarket specification flares as processors introduce tighter grids.
Increased abattoir focus on supermarket specification for commercial (non-retail scheme) cattle, particularly a preferred maximum carcase weight of 380kg, continues to create waves on the store market where some older and heavier animals are already being discounted.
Criticism from some farmers concentrates on the shrinking of grid boxes covering both base price and price bonuses on deadweight cattle – and the proliferation of boxes which cover price penalties.
Auctioneers are among those who also see the most recent adjustments by ABP and Dunbia as evidence of a collective wish by mainstream processors to advance the opportunity to discount instead of maximising opportunities for good finishers to earn a premium.
And the tight boundaries of supermarket spec, which is often accompanied by an expectation that at least 95 per cent of cattle in a delivery will meet it, have provoked comments that even experienced finishers would find it difficult to consistently draw cattle to hit that narrow target.
The other development which raises...Views: 765Continue reading»
Page 430 of 474