Yes we are still waiting as the weather continues to be against us. I do find myself sounding like a broken record, each day waking up, looking eagerly out of the window to see if anything has changed, but in reality feel like we are playing a part in the film Groundhog Day.
As you may gather we still haven’t done much useful on the farm in the last month. It’s been too wet to cut hedges; dig out ditches or drain land; apply fertilizer to the crops in the ground; plant crops not in the ground. By now I would like to be looking at planting our spring beans if not already done so. The latest 30mm of rain and snow over the last few days, means we are not going to be doing anything anytime soon.
We have been shopping though in the last few months. On the farm we have just taken delivery of a new sprayer. This is a major investment which lasts around ten years. As with all such toys, the price continues to rise, as does the level of sophistication we hope to make the most of. This latest British built machine comes with a full compliment of GPS auto-guided controls, ensuring we can get the most efficient use of the fertilizers and agrochemicals the machine will apply over its lifetime. This will ensure we put exactly the right amount of product on in the right place, with the obvious benefits that brings. Complete with touch screen display and joystick controls in the tractor cab, it is ideally suited for the X-box generation, so unfortunately I won’t be getting to drive it much myself.
In Farrington Oils we have also been spending money, with the last piece of investment now in place and just about finished, being commissioned. This is a new filter to remove sediment from the rapeseed oil before it is bottled. Ever since starting the company, filtration, especially in cold weather has always been my biggest problem. However this latest filter will sort this issue out, albeit at vast cost. Our previous filters had been very much manually operated – fine when things are going well, but needed coaxing along to get the best out of them. There was a lot of down time when filter sheets needed changing and cleaning down, it was often a messy job and created plenty of unusable wastage. This new Anglo-Dutch machine works exactly the same as the old one in principle, but with a level of automation that should mean it is pretty much self-sufficient, it filters and cleans itself automatically, as well as reducing the waste dramatically. We are currently in the process of rigging it up with its own mobile phone so it can call me or Martin in the middle of the night if something goes wrong and it needs a little help. If we gave it internet connection, we would be able to control it from a smart phone without getting out of bed, but as internet connection is not the best in rural Hargrave, that might just be asking for trouble.
Duncan Farrington has been a LEAF farmer since 1998 and Bottom Farm became a LEAF Demonstration Farm in 2003.