Farming News

It seems ages ago now that we were celebrating Christmas. I’d like to think you all enjoyed it, and had a peaceful and relaxing time spent with family and friends. For those of us at Flower Farm, the run-up to Christmas is always a nerve-racking and extremely busy time, with nearly 2,000 Christmas orders to get ready at the shop, as well as turkeys to prepare, and trying to guess how busy we are going to be. How many people will choose to shop local with us?

Somehow, we always manage to get organised and I aim to make sure that everything is in place by 20 December. I’m very fortunate to have such a highly dedicated and hardworking team around me. Teamwork is important in many aspects of life, not just running a farm, but in sports, music, politics, space travel…the list goes on. I’m a great believer in teamwork, and the more people that can unite together in common goals, the smoother life is. Who knows, if we all worked together maybe we could do away with wars, famines, conflicts, aggression, and misunderstanding. 

Farmers are great team workers, as any farmer will tell you. If their tractor breaks down, the next-door neighbour will always lend them his. If you’re on holiday, and you notice a farmer in trouble, you will go out to help. If you run out of corn to feed your animals, you can ring another farmer, and pick up a trailer load without question. It must be one of the few industries where this kind of understanding exists. 

Teamwork leads to the highest returns. Take, for example, Lennon and McCartney, Morecambe and Wise, Ant and Dec, the United Nations and even the United States. Animals often work in flocks or herds too, so by being part of a team they can protect one another. For example, having just topped up the bedding for my pigs, I then watched them enjoy playing in it, before they all joined in to enthusiastically rearrange it into a nice bed so they’ve got somewhere warm to lie together tonight. Pigs are smart.

Flower Farm

Farming at this time of year usually comprises field maintenance, ditching, hedging, and fencing. But with the cold and wet weather we’ve been having, it’s been impossible. So, we have some making up to do, hopefully very soon!

UK Farming News

One area much discussed at the moment in farming circles is vertical farming. I’m not talking about farming up a ladder, more a case of crops being grown in tiers. One example is a large firm growing salad crops – peashoots, baby leaf and rocket – in some disused London Underground tunnels. Think of it almost as a giant shelving unit which, with no danger from predators or the environment, requires very few, if any, artificial products to help the plants grow. Light can be supplied with low-energy LEDs and this, along needing no tractors, means its low environmental impact is highly credible. I feel sure that this will become a large portion of agriculture in the future. We now also have automated tractors with no drivers, able to cultivate a field with GPS and machines to harvest all manner of crops, and all directed from an office. Alexa hits agriculture!

In the UK, nearly 96,000 hectares of farmland is used for sugar beet production. Sugar beet remains a hugely important source of sugar for much of the world and offers a valuable rotation in the farming system. Europe’s largest beet factory is in Wessington which, when it opened in 1925, could process 600 tonnes per day. Now it’s 840 tonnes per hour!

It can produce nearly half a million tonnes of sugar per year, as well as valuable side products and the CO2 is harvested as a by-product. By producing our own sugar we are of course reducing imports and reducing our carbon footprint equally.

Last year, UK chicken production hit just over one billion birds. With an ever-increasing population, farmers will be called on more and more to produce the food we need. People, governments, and politicians all need to work as a team to ensure this happens.

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