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In your field: Ian Garnett - 'We are planning to install a 24/48 swingover parlour this summer'

break in the weather has given us the opportunity to get out in the fields and try to get some jobs ticked off the list.

It is never a struggle deciding what needs doing as our jobs lists could be measured in metres not pages and it is more a case of what to do first.

 

This year we have trialled direct drilling Italian ryegrass into a maize stubble which was rolled this weekend and was looking surprisingly well.

 

Likewise we managed to get some pumping done and solid muck out which begins to tackle the winter build-ups.

 

We are doing early nitrogen applications on the barley ground. Most of the winter corn locally is looking good.

 

I understand sowings this autumn were up 23 per cent. Spring barley ground is ploughing up surprisingly dry and sowing is continuing apace.

 

My brother Edward and I have just about decided on the new parlour we plan to install this summer.

 

The parlour will be for an all year-round calving herd which will be calving approximately 30 each month.

 

We are planning for a 24:48 swingover, which is similar to a 20:40 we already use on our other farm.

 

The concept just seems to work for us. Auto-feeding, auto-shedding and auto-dipping are important to us and we are considering conductivity meters too as we go forward.

 

Conductivity meters look interesting to potentially minimise any differences between milkers.

 

This may sound odd, but coronavirus has highlighted to us how the Polish part of our team could potentially suffer from travel disruption if things get difficult again next winter.

 

Therefore, drafting in other help at short notice could result in varying skill sets and we try to ensure routine and predictability wherever possible.

 

While robotic milking does appeal on a number of levels, we are keen to maximise our grazing and the platform we have works best with a traditional parlour.


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On a separate issue, I saw an interesting Horizon programme a while ago called Feast to Save the Planet.

 

It highlighted just how stark the difference in carbon footprint was between air-freighted foods compared to locally produced in-season foods, both meat and vegetables.

 

There is talk of food companies and retailers showing a traffic light system on foods to reflect their carbon footprint, which is a debate in itself.

 

It seems only right that consumers are given some information to help them make an informed choice in terms of total carbon for the item and the carbon figure spread over the nutritional value of that item.

 

The NFU states the carbon footprint of British red meat is 40 per cent of the world average and that we can do better still. Likewise, consumption of perishable foodstuffs, when not in season, appears to necessitate air freight with a large increase in carbon footprint.

 

Perhaps an in-season/locally produced section in the supermarkets would be a start. They could call it the British Aisles?

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