Over the Farmer’s Hedge – Autumn 2013

Crops

Luck and fair weather played a large part in our successful harvest this year, although it wasn’t without high drama with the demise of one of our combine harvesters (see below). Planting of the 2014 crops has proceeded exceedingly well with good soil condition, plenty of moisture and the opportunity to repair the soil damage wrought by heavy rains and mechanical damage during the harvest of 2012. The result is good root formation and plant establishment and to the untrained eye the fields are green all over as we approach winter.

‘A Fiery Fairwell’ by Ellie, our temporary harvest worker

We heralded the beginning of September ready to harvest the last 10% of the crop. The combine set off at Barton with perfect warm and dry conditions enabling the combine to work at its maximum. Late afternoon arrived, still with burning hot sunshine and an extremely dry crop. The operator of the combine, most likely enjoying the air conditioning, was alarmed by a hydraulic oil warning light and an initially uncertain call down the radio from a supporting tractor driver, “erm.. I think.. erm.. THE COMBINE’S ON FIRE!”

As the operator quickly and efficiently shut down the combine the first flames came shooting from the top of the combine. Within minutes two fire engines were charging across the field carefully navigating tracks only designed for farm machinery. The black plume of smoke from the fuel tank explosion could be seen for miles around and fortunately neighbouring farmers, Mike Radford and Mike Tebbitt, were quick to the rescue. Mike Radford of Burwash Manor Farm arrived to plough a fire break around the burning machine to prevent the fire spreading to the still standing crop, a highly significant rescue as field fires can destroy the entire field in minutes. His swift action successfully contained the fire and resulted in a crop loss of only ¼ hectare, for which we are very grateful.

Wildlife

Snipe are returning to the wetlands at Trumpington Fen in very good numbers and the first of the migratory woodcock have also been spotted. Both are RSPB amber status birds and are a welcome sight. The numbers of wading birds has increased enormously with an estimated 500 ducks of all breeds making a tremendous noise at roosting time. In general this has been a very successful breeding season for all the native birds and mammals around the farm.

Green Energy at Trumpington Farm Company

Cantelupe Solar Farm – This summer saw the commissioning of a 5 MW solar farm over 33 hectares in Haslingfield. The panels generate enough electricity to power 1600 homes. The site is on poor agricultural land and makes minimal visual impact because of existing screening.

Cantelupe Biomass – 20 acres of Short Rotation Willow coppice (SRC) was planted in 2011. It is capable of producing 320 tonnes of dried woodchip per annum for around 20 years and is harvested every second year. A biomass boiler is to be installed at Cantelupe Farm to provide the heating requirements of multiple estate houses nearby, the farm office and, in time, it is hoped it will be connected to the grain stores to fuel the drying process at harvest. We expect to burn 260t/pa ourselves and any excess will be sold.

Richard Pemberton was delighted to speak and conduct a tour of the two sites during Haslingfield’s Green Energy Day on November 9th.

We welcome your questions and views at www.trumpingtonestate.com or 01223 841101.

Debbie, David, Richard, Ellie and all the team at Trumpington Farm Company

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