Monday, 13 June 2011

A Successful Day, Dispite The Weather

Our first visitor for this years Open Farm Sunday event arrived in the drizzle just before 9am.  The tractors were polished, the trailers swept and the fields nicely mown.  After a slightly delayed start we headed off to The Overbury Stud where Simon Sweeting gave us a talk about the workings of a stud farm.  It was fascinating hearing about scanning mares to check for a pregnancy at 16 days.  We also saw a Brown Hare running across one of the fields, a great start to the trip.

Following on from Simon we had a talk from Dominc Swainson about the sprayer that we use to apply the pesticides and fertiliser to the fields.  We spoke about Integrated Farm Management and gave some exampled of how we use the philosophy at Overbury Farms to help with our decision making processes.  We learnt about the annual requirement to have an MOT type certificate through NSTS for each sprayer and the fact that the sprayer operators all had to be trained through NRoSO We also spoke about the amount of planning we need to complete before fertiliser is applied to each individual field and the records that are kept of each application.  This also contributed toward the farms accreditation to LEAF Marque of which we are very proud.
Our next station was to hear all about Bumble Bees and how they can help us with pollination of our crops.  Stuart Veall works for Syngenta and he came out with a small hive of bees which everyone found amazing.  It is hoped that another year we can have a couple of hives to help with our crop and margin pollination.  We parked next to a beetle bank with pollen and nectar strips adjacent to each other and explained further about the farms conservation plans and how we are increasing food and habitat for farmland birds, including Corn Buntings and Tree Sparrows.

William Fox (Frontier Agriculture) was on hand to complete the story about what happens to our crops when they leave the farm.  He told us about biofuels created from wheat and rape, Carling Beer made from our malting barley and even how beans are used in fish food as a protein source.  Apparently when crushed the beans are sticky and can hold minerals and other constituents of a ration together in the water for feeding to fish.  (Even Farmer Jake learnt something as well!).  After the last stop we came back down from the hill and thawed out a little before unloading a repeating the process again. 
We had such a lot of help on the day from Derek, Gordon, Graham and Tim for driving the tractors and getting the farm machinery in place; Tod, James and Harry, who looked after the livestock (sheep, chickens and a duck) and from Suzie and Kieren for setting up the gazebo and organising the lists and putting the packs together on the day.  Obviously a huge thanks to our speakers on the day and to those that braved the weather to show up and listen to what I believe makes British food the safest in the world, being produced sympathetically to our environment, by the best farmers in the world.

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