Category Archives: Farming & Agriculture

Oldest surviving YFC couple recall happy days farming in Devon

Devon born and raised Ivan and Rosemary Goff, who now live in Shropshire, are believed to be England’s oldest surviving couple associated with the Young Farmers’ Club movement.

The couple, who live in supported accommodation in Much Wenlock, moved to Shropshire following the pandemic to be closer to their son, Andrew, who lives near Shrewsbury.

Andrew has recorded a video interview with his parents about their recollections of their days as YFC members.

Ivan, 96 and Rosemary, 90, are natives of the Culm Valley, near Tiverton. Ivan was invited to join Culm Valley YFC in 1946 and his wife followed suit a year later, at the age of 13.

The first YFC opened in 1921 in Hemyock, Devon, where the United Dairies milk factory set children of the area’s milk producers the task of calf rearing, with competitions and prizes for those achieving the highest standards.

Over the next decade more clubs opened to provide agricultural education, with a focus on growing crops, calves, pigs, poultry, bees and gardens.

One of Ivan’s proudest memories is winning the YFC ploughing competition at the age of 22 but he was outshone by Rosemary when it came to winning silverware.

She won a host of competitions for her livestock and was allowed to keep the cup for Best Young Farmer after winning it for three years on the trot. At one point, the couple owned a collection of around 20 cups.

Rosemary recalls her favourite prizewinning calf, which she named Betty, with great fondness. She donated one of her collection, named the Flay Cup in honour of her maiden name, to Honiton Agricultural Show and it’s still awarded annually to the best calf rearer.

During the video interview, the couple both said they had enjoyed the social aspect of being YFC members, as well as the competitions. They encouraged today’s young farmers to enjoy their time in the YFC and to spend wisely with an eye to the future

They also both praised the YFC for its charity fundraising and for moving with the times.

During their younger days, Ivan and Rosemary were well known for their dancing, joining five other couples in travelling to dances around their home area.

Today, despite Ivan’s failing health, the couple are still inseparable, spending most days together at Lady Forester Nursing Home in Much Wenlock.

Accelerating evolution with agri-tech ―a sustainable and profitable path to a better world

Agriculture is a prominent sector of humanity that has been deeply affected by climate change. One of the oldest craft ships is still providing food and fabric, but on a large scale that hasn’t been adjusted in accordance with the demand. The world’s state has changed drastically in the past decades, triggering severe floods, droughts and wildfires. This leaves millions of people without food or living in dangerous conditions, and the situation is expected to expand globally. 

Luckily, technology can help us take a turn and evolve into a better life. It’s called agri-tech, and it shapes the agriculture industry into a developed sector in which resources are used efficiently, farming practices are sustainable, and automation is standard. 

The technology is already here, there’s only the need for experts to step into the game to elevate their businesses and contribution to the world. 

Technologies involved in agri-tech infrastructure 

Blending technology with fieldwork is the only way to bring efficiency within this sector. The piece that’s missing involves funding these innovations because there are more professionals who contribute to the process. For instance, you might need qualitative machine pieces and other products made through structural foam moulding when using automatization and robotics in your agriculture company. This process requires product specifications and specific types of plastic to get the right thing. 

This is also the case for precision agriculture, a method based on data about the soil, weather and crop health that’s used to forecast conditions and requirements to get better crops. Someone who’s working with data must create reports that will be the foundation of a proper strategy for preparing the soil, planning and caring for the crops until they reach maturity. 

Greenhouse horticulture is part of sustainable farming and helps reduce waste with accurate data that translates into suitable water and fertiliser usage. Of course, greenhouses might need climate control during colder months, so reaching out to an injection moulding company for heat recovery systems is required. 

Farmers and collaborators need an improved skill set 

Typically, as agriculture requires new methods and strategies for providing more crops and lowering their environmental damage, people must also transform their skill sets and add capabilities valuable in today’s world. For instance, one of the most essential know-how for farmers involves digital literacy to help them use digital tools and advanced machinery, making their work easier and faster. 

Handling data analysis is also essential, although it might not be that easy to master or prioritise. However, a farmer who knows data analysis can easily and rapidly interpret data taken from nature and adapt their approaches and practices immediately. Hence, this skill improved the decision-making process, also known as the DDS (decision support system), in which compound data and microbe data are taken advantage of. 

Of course, working with technology isn’t always easy, so farmers must also develop their problem-solving response to troubleshoot tech issues, for instance. At the same time, interpreting data might be prone to bias, meaning that a strategic decision should be based on more than the raw data. 

Agri-tech and the problem of supply chain management

Indeed, a good-working supply chain is almost impossible to reach in any industry, especially a massive one like agriculture. Sometimes, other sectors’ supply chain scarcity affects agriculture. For instance, current labour shortages lead to unharvested fresh produce, leaving farmers with limited solutions for making any profit. The shortage of raw materials is another challenge for producers since amino acids for livestock feed have become difficult to get. 

Besides, transporting produce from the farm to the customers needs some improvement, for which technological advancements like tracking devices can be implemented. The processing and distribution stages in the agricultural supply chain can be better managed with agri-tech with IoT (Internet of Things), which enables farmers and small businesses to optimise their operations. 

Artificial Intelligence for large-scale and small-scale farming 

AI is already used in numerous industries, from healthcare to education, and it can surely be introduced to agriculture soon when farmers have already mastered the ways of technology and are ready for new challenges. 

A few AI areas can successfully be introduced in agriculture and are already used in some countries. Computer Vision, for instance, is efficient in the following areas:

  • Monitoring of the crop and soil through UAV drones that photograph the area. Computer vision models then analyse the images to make predictions about the yields’ health so the farmer can make better decisions;
  • Automatic wedding is possible by blending computer vision technology to monitor weeds and machine learning tools used to de-weed the areas in need. Hence, this technology reduces manual intervention and costs;

Intelligent sensors have been also introduced in agriculture through aeroponics, a system controlling the crops’ nutrients, temperature parameters and PH. Sensors can also fault detections and correct mistakes remotely, removing the need for the farmer to make constant manual labour. 

AI sensors might efficiently predict crop diseases and apply specific insecticides in the appropriate quantities at the right time. Especially during their early stages, crops are sensitive to pathogen bacteria, viruses and fungi. Still, the possibility of developing a disease depends on the soil’s quality, moisture amount, and extreme temperatures. 

With AI, farmers can seize the symptoms of regular or rare crop diseases in less time and take measures as fast as possible, minimising losses and risks for the disease to spread. So, whether it’s based on satellite-derived data or susceptibility monitoring, crop management is more manageable with AI and could considerably improve the supply of fresh and healthy produce, supporting farmers to continue their work. 

Final considerations 

Agri-tech is the future of agriculture, a future in which there are almost no dead crops, produce is delivered in sustainable ways, and the soil is taken care of without too much effort. The technology is mainly based on automation, taking information from the location and transforming it into valuable data for the farmer to use as a strategy for improving its crops and approaches. 

 

Border farm with bags of development potential to be sold by informal tender

A versatile Shropshire-Powys border arable and grassland farm with great residential development potential is being offered for sale by informal tender as whole or in four lots.

White House Farm is beautifully located in the rural hamlet of Binweston, near Worthen, just 10 miles from Welshpool and 14 miles from Shrewsbury. The sale is being handled by Halls, a leading regional firm of estate agents, chartered surveyors, auctioneers and valuers.

At the centre of the farm is a five bedroomed original Welsh longhouse with interesting traditional features.

The property also comprises a range of traditional buildings with planning consent for conversion to two homes and a garage, two building plots with full planning permission for two, detached homes and two lots of productive arable and grassland extending to 101.94 acres.

The sale of White House Farm offers purchasers the opportunity to acquire a well- situated and versatile property, located in a popular area of Shropshire bordering Wales,” said Louise Preece, an associate director of Halls.

Lot one includes the timber framed, rendered brick and stone farmhouse which provides comfortable accommodation with exposed timbers and framework throughout.

The ground floor has a farmhouse kitchen/breakfast room, former dairy/salting room, back kitchen, utility, boot room, living room with log burner and back boiler, dining room with an open fire, pantry and a cellar. Two separate staircases rise to the first floor where there are five bedrooms and a family bathroom.

The farmhouse has a large a large lawn to the rear with a rockery and boundary fence. Domestic outbuildings include a log store and workshop with double steel doors and an inspection pit.

Lot two comprises the range of 19th century red brick barns with planning consent for conversion to two homes with three bedrooms each, a detached garage, parking and garden areas, access from the adjacent road and demolition of steel framed and block buildings.

Lot three comprises 91.24 acres of versatile arable and grassland and a menage with a ‘Carpet Gallops’ shredded carpet surface.

Lot four includes 10.70 acres of productive permanent grassland with road access and lot five is a development site with planning consent for two detached homes with attached garages.

 

Potential buyers must complete and return a tender form to Louise Preece at Halls’ Battlefield head office by 12 noon on Monday, November 27. Viewing is by appointment with Halls on Tel: 01743 450700.

Tom finally receives Points of Light award eight years after presentation

Prominent Mid Wales farmer Tom Evans, MBE, has finally received a Points of Light award presented to him at the Royal Welsh Show in 2015 by then Prime Minister David Cameron.

Tom received an envelope from Mr Cameron but, due to an oversight by the Prime Minister’s team, there was no certificate inside. The award was to recognise his outstanding contribution to agriculture, Young Farmers Clubs and the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society (RWAS).

Now, eight years later, former Royal Welsh Agricultural Society (RWAS) chief executive Steve Hughson and Brecon and Radnor MP Fay Jones have rectified the mistake.

They travelled to Tom’s Beulah home last week to present the certificate, this time signed by current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, to him.

 

Points of Light awards are presented by the Prime Minister to outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community.

A retired sheep farmer, Tom is renowned as the ‘voice of Welsh shearing’, having commentated for nearly 40 years at the Royal Welsh Show, the Three Counties Show and world championship shearing competitions across the globe.

 

Tom was presented with an MBE in 2020 by King Charles, who was Prince of Wales at the time, at Buckingham Palace for services to farming heritage.

At this year’s Royal Welsh Show, he launched his autobiography ‘Where the Hell’s the Time Gone: A Life in Farming’, a fascinating account of his life.

Steve only recently discovered that Tom, who has suffered ill health, had never received his Points of Light award, so set about rectifying the oversight with Fay’s support.

 

Helped by Tom’s daughter, Amanda and grandson, Greg, the pair arranged a surprise presentation at his home. Tom said he was delighted to have finally received the award from the current Prime Minister and thanked Fay and Steve for rectifying this error.

He had been surprised when, on arriving home after the 2015 Royal Welsh Show in 2015, that there was no certificate enclosed, he added.

“Even an MBE and now this certificate doesn’t feel quite enough to recognise Tom’s enormous contribution to his community,” said Fay. “He is a truly great man and I’m so proud to have played a tiny part in getting him his certificate.

“I have always enjoyed my chats with Tom in the market or at local shows and this meeting was no different, still full of brilliant stories and a sharp message for politicians. His book is a hilarious account of a life dedicated to farming.  I am so very proud to know him and his wonderful family.”

 

Steve added: “As former RWAS chief executive, I understand the huge contribution that Tom has made to agriculture and rural skills and simply wanted to do something for him. Getting this certificate seemed appropriate.

“Knowing Tom is an honour. Amongst his many achievements, he was instrumental in securing the future of the World Shearing Championships and he is, of course, a champion hedger, having worked alongside King Charles at Highgrove.

“I am delighted that we were able to surprise Tom with this certificate and we all offer him our very best wishes as he deals with his ongoing health issues.”

 

Picture caption:

Tom Evans finally receives his Points of Light award from Steve Hughson watched by Fay Jones, MP and Amanda Thomas, Tom’s daughter.