Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Ten Highlights from #NFU14

1. Peter Kendall, terrific leadership and  leaves the NFU in good health.

2. The entertainers ....Jim Rogers, Edward Garner (Kantar World Panel) and the irrepressible Gyles Brandreth.... how we laughed!!!

3. The conference organisation ... hats off to Val Gatfield and her team, I found it faultless. Well done to all those in social media world, its nearly as quick as the spoken word. In an industry where many work in isolated locations, it offers information, education, humour and a virtual agri-community.

4. How to do it without subsidies, the New Zealand way - Sir Lockwood Smith was the first Smith to have a good conference.

5. The opportunities and dilemmas of Agri-tech and CAP reform. Detail please on Greening!!!

6. George Freeman - Championing Agri-science.

7. Supermarket Sweep - cleaning out the cupboard of promises and the future food chain integration in the 'Whose Backing British Session' with Jay Rayner.

8. The 'Commodity Breakouts' always provide a chance to get into a 'Sector Silo' and remember we all started as farmers!!!

9. The ICC as a venue is terrific, the conference gives a great opportunity for many in the agricultural sector to exchange ideas.

10. The new NFU team..... a final twist in the conference story. Congratulations to the new office holders, Meurig Raymond, Minette Batters and Guy Smith .

Monday, 17 February 2014

Open Farm Sunday 2014

The GWCT Allerton Project and W.J. Wright & Son of Oxey Farm, will be hosting Open Farm Sunday.
 June 8th, at Hall Farm, Loddington, Leics. LE7 9XE
We've got a new trailer to transport our visitors to unexplored parts of rural Leicestershire.

We look forward to seeing you in June

Friday, 7 February 2014

In between the storms....part 2

It seems somewhat trivial to give a 'wet' Loddington farm update when the coast line of the United Kingdom is being battered by the sea and farmers in Somerset are facing such monumental challenges. Being near the head of the valley our water flows down the Eyebrook into the reservoir of the same name and into the River Welland on its way to The Wash.

This is the wettest ground conditions I can remember in over 20 years, the total rain might not have surpassed 2012, but our heavy ground is sodden. Whilst on a crop walking journey around the farm I took a few photos to give an idea of what conditions are like.
Water glistening on the sides of the valley.
Paired ponds -Full Up

Biobed Project - rain stopped play !!

Winter beans finally emerging!
Late drilled Cordiale wheat tries to shake off its waterlogged feet
This was taken in 2010 and shows sediment deposited on the edge of the field.

In 2014 the oil  radish/ oats cover crop, before spring beans,
has kept significantly more soil in the field

Oil radish and oats close up

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Big farmland bird count on a beautiful winter's day

It was a great start to our Big Farmland Bird Count; glorious sunshine and a gentle breeze. With the wet and windy weather that has been around this was an opportunity too good to miss. I persuaded my wife Ruth to be my trusty assistant, so off we set into the farm armed with binoculars, camera, pen and paper.

We chose a location near to one of our wild bird covers and supplementary feed hoppers. We reasoned that we needed a few things in our favour to count our farmland birds.

Site selected was near one of our supplementary feed hoppers.
Hedges, trees, wild bird cover and grass were all in close proximity.
It took a few minutes for the birds to get used to our portable hide (my truck) but once they started to come to the feeder we got some good viewing. The enjoyment was enhanced by the fact I'd left my mobile phone at home and the natural environment had all my attention.

Note to photographer "bigger telephoto lens required".

Farmer Phil on the look out at #BFBC
As for the results we saw blue tits, chaffinch, goldfinch, yellowhammer, greenfinch, fieldfare, song thrush, tree sparrows and blackbirds. Some of the bigger birds on display were pheasants, crows, wood pigeons, magpie and buzzard. We got to about 21 species although the debate still continues onto how many different species of 'tits' we saw. I guess that's part of the process, we may well have not correctly identified one or two species and equally we will have missed a few. However I'm sure we recorded a pretty accurate representation of what was about.

Farmers often get told what is happening to the farmland bird populations by others, here's a chance to report our own findings. I hope if you have registered for the count you have a spare half an hour to join the count(early mornings are good).  For me.... I'm off farming for the rest of the week!

Trusty assistant, bird verifier and photographer .... Mrs J

Ruth takes part in the BFBC

All done and dusted... time for a cup of tea and record our findings on line!!