News From The Field - February 2018
This month we've been getting ahead with the Christmas shopping...!
It’s certainly getting colder as I write this and after a morning planting Christmas tree saplings in the sleet I’m glad to be back in the office! In the fields, the Oilseed Rape has got off to a good start and we have just applied its first inputs for the year which include Sulphur and Nitrogen. These nutrients, together with the extended daylight hours, should really help the plants to get away now. With this cold and wet weather, I’m also glad we took the decision to plant all crops in the autumn rather than wait until the spring, as if this weather carried on it would have been difficult for them to establish. With less to do in the fields I can also spend some time away from the farm before the busy season begins – this week I am attending a trade fair in Harrogate to look at next season’s Christmas decorations and also travelling to Peterborough to the annual LAMMA (Lincolnshire Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Association) show… I expect there will be far more farmers at the latter!
In the wider industry, we were relieved to learn this month that the government has extended the period that it will guarantee support funding for agriculture in some form until at least 2024, previously 2020. This gives us a bit more clarity when forward-budgeting in the medium term which is always welcome.
Health and Safety continues to be an ever-increasing priority for farms and so it should be, given the disproportionate amount of accidents, often fatal, that occur on farms each year. There are many reasons for this; a lot of famers work on their own a lot of the time (as the two of us on this farm do) operating large machinery or working with large, unpredictable animals. The long hours and the need to ‘get the job done’ can unfortunately sometimes lead to corners being cut, and for many family farming businesses there isn’t the ‘responsibility for employee safety’ mindset that many other industries have. Much work is being done, however, to change this - Young Farmers Clubs, colleges and the industry give the subject a lot of coverage and I am confident that things are changing for the better. We now have regular external audits to check our equipment is safe to use, for example our cherry picker ‘man bucket’ is tested every three months. Auditors also check that the procedures we follow on the farm are robust especially in areas such as lone working, where the increased coverage by mobile phones in recent years has really helped to make us more contactable when we are out in the fields. What did we do before mobile phones!?
(Post-Script – after writing this, the second day of LAMMA was cancelled due to high winds and bad weather causing health and safety concerns!)