Over the Farmers Hedge – Early Spring 2014

Farming

All systems are go for one of our busiest periods in the year as we aim to get the crops off to the best start possible. Spring is 3 weeks ahead of where we might anticipate and crops are waiting to burst into life when day length catches up with the current mild temperatures. The key jobs are spring application of fertiliser and fungicides. Disease pressure is running very high in the absence of hard frosts and key nutrients have been washed away in the persistent rains, which David, our Farm Manager, calls a ‘perfect anti-growth storm’. Pigeons continue to be a pest on the tender sweet stems of the oil seed rape until the distractions of the breeding season take hold.

Flooding and Wetlands Reserve

Watching the media we are grateful to have escaped the worst of the destructive flooding seen in the South. There was of course flooding across the meadows and Trumpington Fen but the wetlands reserve fulfilled its role; relieving pressure on the City further downstream. The Southwest NFU is still coordinating pledges of animal fodder and bedding to flooded farmers and our pledge of hay bales may yet be taken up as farms there remain waterlogged into March.

Wildlife

The heronry on Trumpington Fen is growing with one pair nesting and 36 other birds hopefully breeding once gale-damaged nests are rebuilt. If the Little Egret they share space with finds a mate it will be the first nesting pair in the Cambridge area in recent times. A recent BTO survey also showed Buzzards, large numbers of Chaffinch, almost 60 Pied Wagtail, 40 reed bunting and some Yellowhammer (red list species) on the estate. The Grey Partridges are now pairing up and finding nesting sites, please keep dogs on leads at this important time of year of the breeding cycle of the Grey Partridge (red list species).

Team Changes

Charlie Carpenter, our farm foreman of over 30 years, has decided to step back from management on the farm in anticipation of taking things easier as he reaches 65. No one, least of all Charlie, expects him to stop working on the farm and everyone values his extraordinary knowledge and guidance. Adam North has stepped into Charlie’s large muddy boots vacating his role as sprayer operator, a role snapped up by our newest recruit Gordon Carson.

An invitation

Our next Neighbours Farm Walk will take place on Friday 16th May at 6pm. We began running these farm walks in 2012 to let our neighbours see parts of the farm they won’t normally have access to.  We take visitors on a tractor and trailer tour of Cantelupe Farm and Trumpington Fen showing developments, the reservoirs, wildlife sites like the heronry at Newnham and discuss crops.

Everyone is welcome, including accompanied children and there is no charge but places are limited to 30. The ‘walk’ lasts around 2 hours. Please register your interest at info@trumpingtonestate.com or call Debbie on 01223 841101 if you would like to join us.

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