Lupins are ideally sown into a warm damp seed bed which encourages immediate germination and quick growth. This ensures they get away quickly so the period where they are a particular delicious delicacy for the pigeons, is as short as possible.
The guns are ready and waiting for the call to act as a deterrent as soon as the young shoots appear. No doubt we shall also call upon the services of a few scarecrows and flying kites, to protect the crop.
An article in the Farmers Weekly on alternative crops highlighted the benefits of growing Lupins. It suggests that every livestock farm in the UK should grow them, thus helping to plug the protein gap and reducing the country’s reliance on imported soya.
The advantage of Lupins is that they produce a livestock concentrate feed of 28-42% protein. David McNaughton from Soya UK, for whom we grow our crop, was quoted as saying that 80% of Lupins are grown for wholecrop forage, but he believes there is scope for a vast increase in the acreage of combinable Lupins.
Lupins are an excellent source of protein, their deep root system helps with drainage, and they fix nitrogen in the soil at a higher rate than either peas or beans. Growing a wheat crop following Lupins improves yield noticeably, and makes it possible to cut back on the use of artificial fertiliser.
Our TB test took place last week which is usually a routine event. The evening before the vet was due to return to check for any reactors, I spotted a couple which looked decidedly suspicious. Fortunately they fell within the acceptable bracket, so mercifully the farm will not be closed down for further testing.
Having never before even considered having a reactor on the farm, I can now fully understand the anxiety, of dairy farmers in particular, who regularly face the prospect of having a reactor.
Several steers were due to go to Tottingworth, which had we been closed down, would have had to remain on the farm indefinitely. This would have proved costly, and to maintain the quality of the beasts which were at peak fitness, would have proved tricky.
The cattle yard was beginning to look decidedly empty. Most years we buy young stock in the autumn but there was a shortage and prices reflected this. Fortunately last week there were a number of handsome looking Sussex steers at Hailsham Market, some of which are now back at Ote Hall. Hopefully a few more trips to Hailsham will ensure we start the grazing season with appropriate stock numbers.
It has been revealed that the banks and supermarkets are stitching up farmers yet again, in a shocking manner. Retailers including Marks & Spencer and Morrisons are delaying payment to farmers, particularly small producers for up to three months. For many small businesses this delay is unsustainable but instead of paying up, the supermarkets are directing them to access short term loans from banks, which they are in cahoots with. The bank pays the money but charges interest on the loan, so they win. The supermarkets win as they get to keep the producers money. It is the farmer who loses out yet again.
Phil Orford, chief executive of the Forum of Private Business, said “This is yet another ethical deficit at the heart of some of Britain’s most well-known companies. Their apparent collusion in this area threatens to break the backbone of the UK economy – small businesses”.
This is indeed ‘bully-boy tactics’, enabling big businesses to make an extra profit at the cost to small producers which are forced to wait up to three months for payment.
The general opinion following the Chanel 4 and Sky News interrogation of David Cameron and Ed Miliband was that Jeremy Paxman won. The loser was neither politician, it was us the viewing public who were denied the informative discussions we should have expected.
What on earth was that all about other than the vanity and poor judgement of the former News Night front man? His aggressive, rude, sneering interviewing technique neither enhanced the discussions, nor drew from either politician the information that the majority of the public were looking for. Anyone could have done a better job and made for better viewing.
Paxman should be sent back into retirement, his sense of superiority and obvious frustration makes him incapable of doing the job properly, and quite frankly gives a very good example of how not to behave. Jeremy Clarkson was kicked out for thumping his producer when running on empty. Paxman’s verbal thuggery was equally unacceptable, the public and the two party leaders deserve better.
Carola Godman Irvine