As I See it on the Land – February 2022

We managed to get Darren Godden, a ditch cleaning genius, to give us a day’s work with one of his machines. He cleared a ditch of vegetation, dead wood and mud from the bottom. The next day the skies opened and the ground became waterlogged quickly. The ditch filled with water way above the normal level. Unfortunately, the Kitsbridge Pumping Station had broken down and a new pump needed to be installed. Our ditch water had to flow to the nearest pump at Bilsington to be discharged into the RM Canal. The installation was a prolonged job, which did not go well, so a portable pump was brought in to help control the water. Throughout December water laid on the surface of many fields. The pump returned to service early in January and thankfully the ditch water levels dropped quickly and the land drains were able to work more efficiently.

Last week we loaded 300 tonnes of milling wheat onto lorries which transferred it onto a boat in Sheppey for movement up country. As expected, the buyers made deductions on every load varying from £1.50 to £6 per tonne, because the grain was not plump enough. A total of £860 was deducted. All flour products are going to cost more adding to the inflation problem. We, along with the rest of the world, have a serious problem with the cost of nitrogen fertiliser, which is hovering around £700 per tonne. Can anyone afford to apply as much nitrogen as has been done in the past? The financial return reduces the more you apply, so crop advisors (agronomists) are trying to work out what is the minimum amount that can be applied, and when, in the growth stage of a crop, without jeopardising the final yield. It is highly likely world production will fall dramatically. This is all caused by the restricted flow of gas and oil coming from Russia. Mr.Putin has total control over the matter.
I don’t normally get too political but whilst our government is worrying about getting down to an expensive carbon neutral state, with everyone driving electric cars etc, and we have got to treat animals like humans, the country is going to pot. We need oil to manufacture goods, drive vehicles etc. So why close down oil rigs.

Why are we not fracking like mad? Coal is imported from abroad and this country has an abundance. There are plans to rewild farmland, plant forests, build more houses, cover good farmland with solar panels, but where is our food coming from? It will have to be imported from somewhere probably at great cost to nature, which we will pretend we can’t see.

Why aren’t we developing wave power which is always there, whereas when the wind stops blowing, the turbines stop, and the lights go out. Our coal fired power stations now burn wood chips that are carried half way round the world. At what cost to zero emissions?

Back in November the government ordered everyone with chicken to shut them indoors to avoid avian flu. I could not face shutting mine up like last year because it exhausted me trying to clean the houses out regularly with hens inside. Part of my flock were in their third year so they were culled. Job done. The younger birds are retained for the present time but pressure is being applied to give up poultry altogether. Short of eggs to eat I bought some in Lidl that were from caged birds as against home free range ones. They were 60% of the price of home produced and I could not tell the difference when eating them. I am not sure whether the hatcheries will continue to produce more chicks with the situation as it is.

We would like to thank everyone who bought mistletoe from the board outside Margaret and John Allen’s house in Cock Lane, Hamstreet. The sale raised £53 which has been sent to Cancer Research.

Peter Sillibourne