24th July 2020


Rural Rap

THE WINTER WHEAT HARVEST KICKED OFF THIS WEEK, WITH COMBINES ROLLING INTO FIELDS UP TO TWO WEEKS EARLY DUE TO THE EXTREME SEASON, reports Farmers Weekly.  Growers are pleasantly pleased with initial yields, despite the wet autumn and spring drought, with Kent arable farmer James Atwood even seeing parts of fields touching 17t/ha for his milling wheat on the Isle of Sheppey.  Mr Atwood’s wheat was one of the first to be cut on 15th July, where 240ha of Crusoe and Skyfall have been harvested so far, averaging an exceptional 12.5-13t.ha.  He has a further 800ha left to be cut.  He started combining earlier than usual on his heavy clay soils, where a 10ha area of Crusoe wheat yielded 16-17t/ha, breaking previous farm records.  Quality is good at 14.5% moisture, a specific weight of 82kg/hL, and protein levels of 14% for Crusoe and 13% for Skyfall.

A WORLD-LEADING WINERY SET TO PRODUCE 400,000 BOTTLES A YEAR WILL BE BUILT NEAR CANTERBURY, reports the Kent Messenger.  Co-run by Taittinger, the new Chilham development has been given a unanimous seal of approval.  The state-of-the-art winery, which will also act as a visitor centre, will be built off New Cut Road on part of a 550-acre vineyard estate owned by Domaine Evremond, an English sparkling wine producer.  It is hoped that the first batch will be bottled for secondary fermentation next year, before the release of the new Chilham-sourced label in 2024.    kentonline.co.uk/canterbury/news/world-leading-winery-to-be-built-in-kent-countryside-230684/

A SHEPHERD HAS BEEN FORCED TO THROW HIS WOOL HARVEST ON THE COMPOST HEAP AFTER THE COLLAPSE IN THE WOOL MARKET, reports the BBC.  An East Sussex farmer said the fleeces were worth less than the costs of transporting them to the British Wool depot in Ashford, Kent.  British Wool said the price of wool has fallen by 50% as markets closed around the world due to the pandemic.  February to May is the sector’s busiest selling period, so lockdown couldn’t have happened at a worse time.  Ten years ago shepherds were paid about £5 a fleece, but the price has declined down to about 20p this year.  bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-53501671

THE FINALISED KENT BIODIVERSITY STRATEGY DOCUMENT HAS BEEN PUBLISHED ONLINE, reports the Kent Nature Partnership.  Approved in February this year, the strategy aims to deliver, over a 25 year period, the maintenance, restoration and creation of habitats that are thriving with wildlife and plants and ensure that the county’s terrestrial, freshwater, intertidal and marine environments regain and retain good health.    It looks to protect and recover threatened species and enhance the wildlife habitats for which Kent is particularly important.  It also aims to provide a natural environment that inspires citizen engagement and is well used and appreciated, so that the mental and physical health benefits of such a connection can be realised.   kentnature.org.uk/uploads/Kent%20Biodiversity%20Strategy%202020%20-%202045.pdf

FRUIT PICKING ROBOTS AND AUTONOMOUS CROP SYSTEMS ARE AMONG THOSE SET TO BENEFIT FROM A GOVERNMENT FUND, reports Farming UK.  The nine innovative agri-tech projects are set to benefit from a £24m government fund.  They will all apply big data AI and robotics to UK farming, with the aim of creating a more efficient system of food production.  One project by Saga Robotics in Lincoln will use robots to assist farmers in carrying out essential physical farm processes including picking and packing fruit.  One Kent based company, Production at the Point of Consumption, based in Maidstone, will receive nearly £850k to develop the next generation of autonomous growing systems.

FARM SAFETY WEEK RETURNS FOR ITS EIGHTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR, reports R.A.B.I.  The campaign aims to increase awareness of the safety risks on farms and to offer guidance to support the physical and mental wellbeing of those in the farming community.  The four main focuses of the week are: aftermath of Covid, child safety on farms, technology, and rural road safety.  20 agricultural workers lost their lives on farms in 2019/20 – a 37.5% decrease on the previous year’s total of 32.   rabi.org.uk/farm-safety-week-2020/

, reports Farming UK.  21 people in Britain were killed in agriculture – 20 workers and 1 member of the public: a four year old child.  The report goes on to show that workers over the age of 55 are disproportionately at risk of death following an accident.  Agriculture still has the highest rate of fatal injury- 18x higher than the all-industry rate, accounting for around 20% of worker fatalities.  And with the tragic reality that three children lost their lives on British and Irish farms over the past month, the issue of keeping children safe must also be highlighted.   farminguk.com/news/farm-safety-week-transport-biggest-cause-of-farm-fatalities_56127.html

THE POSITIVE PUBLIC VIEW OF BRITISH FOOD AND FARMING HAS REACHED A RECORD HIGH AS A RESULT OF FARMERS’ EFFORTS TO FEED THE NATION DURING LOCKDOWN, reports Farmers Weekly and Farming UK.  That’s according to a Farmer Favourability Survey which revealed that 75% of people voiced a positive view of UK farming.  The nation experienced acute food shortages during the first few weeks of lockdown, mainly as a result of panic buying.  86% agreed that British farms should grow as much food as they can to provide food security.  88% feel it is important that the UK has a productive farming industry.  89% feel farming is fairly or very important to the UK economy.  77% believe farmers should continue to receive financial support post Brexit.  The majority of respondents cited farming work through lockdown as a reason for their increased positive view.  fwi.co.uk/news/public-opinion-of-british-farmers-at-record-high

UK LAMB SLAUGHTERINGS FOR JUNE WERE UP 9% YEAR ON YEAR, reports Farming UK.  DEFRA data shows that lamb slaughterings were at 1m head, while prime cattle throughput for the same period were up over 10%.  This has been attributed in part to dry conditions during the spring, which led to animals in grass-based farming systems being slower to finish, so are only now coming to market.

A NEW TV SERIES IS LOOKING FOR FARMERS WHO LIKE TO RECEIVE EXPERT ADVICE AND IDEAS ON HOW TO DIVERSIFY AND SUPPLEMENT INCOME, reports Farming UK.  STV Productions, the company which makes Catchphrase and Antiques Road Trip, said the series is due to film later this year and early next.  Experts will be on hand throughout the journey to help farmers explore opportunities and realise their ambitions.  The series will be hosted by Adam Henson.  The show would like to hear about diversification ideas, or even plans already in production.  “By learning about the history of their farms, and studying potential within their agricultural landscapes, we want to join farmers on their journey to make their diversification dreams a reality.”  Those interested in participating are asked to get in touch with the production team at farming@stv.tv or 141 300 3806.  farminguk.com/news/new-tv-series-seeks-farmers-keen-to-diversify_56149.html


RABI, Addington Fund, FCN, Forage Aid and RSABI, supported by the Prince’s Countryside Fund, have launched the Farming Help initiative.  The initiative is also being launched with the NFYFC, the NFU and the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust. 
FARMING HELP recognises that this will be an anxious time for many farmers and farming families and periods of poor health or self-isolation may result in temporary practical difficulties on farm.  For help drafting a contingency plan, for practical local help with livestock, shopping etc, or to discuss your concerns and anxieties,

Contact 03000 111 999 or visit www.farminghelp.co.uk

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