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Kicking tyres..

Since the last notes, the weather has become slightly more cheery and rainfall has eased off a bit. We are still failing to get any frosts to deter slug grazing and fungal infections. There is still time for a cold snap though, which would not do us any harm at all. A week or two’s dry weather to clear the surface water from tramlines would also be high on my wish list.

Last week Sam and I took a trip to the LAMMA machinery exhibition at the NEC. This has become the major machinery “shop window” for the U.K. and has grown a lot since the Smithfield and Royal Shows packed up. One useful feature of this event is that the venue is so large that a lot of small manufacturers and service companies are able to afford stand space which allows them to introduce themselves to a national customer base. This year for the first time there were a few small tractors and diggers which were all electric. Nothing more than 50 h.p. but clearly a sign of things to come. Also on show were various inter-row hoes, weeders and spot sprayers. These would be carried on a tractor front linkage guided by the very accurate RTK satellite system. Accuracy of 20mm is possible and while these systems are aimed at high value vegetable crops at present, all the companies developing them are experimenting with cereal crops on wider rows and using the machines to mechanically weed instead of chemicals. If a tracked robotic weeder were available which was reliable, it would not need to be very big and heavy to weed crops if working 16 hours a day. I quite like the idea of having a fleet of R2D2’s trundling up and down the rows of wheat keeping them clean and watching out for diseases or rabbit grazing. Watch out bunnies you are about to be tazered!!

Hopefully over the next couple of months we will finally get around to putting the new fences up on the meadow. This operation has been on the wish list for quite a while and the new fence wire and stakes should be arriving shortly. It is quite a while since we last did any serious amount of fencing and I expect the final few days will go quite slowly until we have worked out the best method of doing the job. It will certainly be a relief to be able to put sheep out there again without the expectations of a knock at the door to inform us that ‘there are sheep out again!’

When we planted the two acre wood beside the cartrack about 15 years ago, about 20% of the trees that went into it were Ash. For a while it looked as though they were not being affected by Ash die back, but sadly this is not the case. We have now removed nearly all of them and replanted with a selection of Oak, Hornbeam, Wild Cherry and Hazel. The other wood which is not so visible we have not touched yet. This did not grow as well as the other one, but we must fight our way in and have a look to see what we have got there. This is one of our favourite spots for Turtle Doves+ so we must be careful not to remove any of their favoured nesting sites.

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