Steeple Bumpstead Agricultural Discusion Society

Steeple Bumpstead
Agricultural Discussion Society

Established 1929

Newsletter January 2000

The Autumn programme has covered the technical aspects of chemical application, a novel co-operative venture between farmers near Royston that reduces their costs and a general interest talk by a man who claims to farm the driest farm in England.

Tom Robinson from Novartis at Wittlesford gave us an in depth review of how to maximise the efficiency of our spraying techniques. His knowledge of the subject is immense but his delivery is such that we learned a great deal and did not get bored with the detail. He covered nozzle selection, pressures and other factors that affect spray quality and drift and hence how much of the pesticide actually hits itís target. This is very important from an environmental point of view because we do not want expensive products just blowing away in the wind and if we increase the efficiency of the application we can save money by putting less chemical in the tank.

Edward Darling has created a farm partnership with two neighbours near Royston in such a way that they get the advantages of a large farm and reduce their costs, but the individual farms maintain their identity. This looks a very interesting system because small/medium size farms are really struggling to survive at the moment but farmers are fiercely independent and many would give up farming rather than amalgamate with a neighbour to reduce costs.

Guy Smith farms at St Osyth and writes in one of our farming magazines. He suffers from his urban neighbours in Clacton and Jaywick Sands but he also benefits from the custom they bring to his 9 hole golf course and his garden centre. He is a very entertaining and quite forthright speaker. I do not think he taught us very much but we all enjoyed the evening.

Our first talk of the new year was Marek Nowakowski who is an agronomist who specialises in environmental management of headlands and set- aside. He gave us a lot of food for thought about the potential for maximising wildlife benefit from these areas by sowing the appropriate mix of grasses and wild flowers and ensuring that they get established by the use of the appropriate selective herbicides. At first sight this would not seem to be a very environmentally friendly process but the long term benefit for insects and wildlife was very impressive when compared to land that had just been left to itís own devices.

We have also had a very sad time recently. In November two of our recent speakers died. Peter Hepworth and Michael Murphy. Both were well known national figures and renowned for their views on farming. They will both be missed. Then in December our chairman John Suckling died. John was the king-pin of our society doing many jobs behind the scenes that we all took for granted. He and Peggy always entertained our speakers with an excellent meal when they arrived in Bumpstead and he was always last out of the hall at the end of the evening. John had been chairman for 27 years and he was only the third since the society was founded in 1929. These are facts that he was immensely (and justifiably) proud of. A few years ago one of our members said that our society had the reputation of being a "friendly" organisation and that was down to John Suckling and the way he managed our meetings. This was so true ! We face quite a task to fill Johnís shoes and ensure that his legacy to our society is not lost.

Stephen Graves (Secretary)

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