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We had a great choice of cover stories.
Should we feature a home made stirrer 'Mixing a 37% Return on Invested Capital' in a farm biogas plant? and what one farmer can do, so can another.
Or the Farm Walk farmer who has cut diesel use from 20 to 3 litres/ha for crop establishment?
Or maybe a really lightweight zero grazer which keeps fresh grass in front of cows housed because of wet weather. A simple innovation which makes money by holding up milk yields in inclament weather.
Fourthly there was a home built cultivator, a real tool for heavy land work, and a different design which other Min-Till merchants will be interested in. With a picture good enough for a calendar!
We settled on the home built cultivator! The slurry image wasn't visually exciting, even if the 37% was outstanding. The handful of earth looked good, but how many would see the massive implications of the picture? The forager wasn't the clearest picture... the problems of editorial!
Instead of 1,200 hp of tractors - led by a Cat 875C Challenger and John Deere 8530 - he now uses two Fendt 724 which clock up 5 - 600 hours/year on the 3,300 acre business.
The big cultivators like the Simba Solo have gone, along with the cost of replacement points and other metal.
Home built trailed cultivator does shallow work very accurately
He couldn't find an affordable cultivator which worked as he needed - a machine which could be set to work accurately at a shallow depth, around 2 inches, as well as driving down to 12 and more. The surface working needed for volunteer growth, and trash incorporation. Made for £10k from new steel, the trailed machine has the adjustment he needs.
John Deere 6 Series rear lights.
The very exposed rear lights cost £50 each to replace. This steel guard covers the exposed top, which gets broken when something heavy drops on it. It looks really good as well. The farmer who designed it will make you a pair.
Does your dog use the cab steps to bounce off when getting down from the cab? And do these steps have big gaps so the mud from your boots falls through? And what happens when their paw goes through the gap? It's a horrid injury, with either a broken leg, £300. or broken tendons, £1,000. Here's how one farmer covers the gaps on his tractor steps and makes them safe for his dog.
You've pulled the leaking trailer ram apart, replaced the old seals and have to push them back in the cylinder, past the threads in the top of the ram and the step. It's the hardest part of the job, made much easier using a plastic milk bottle as a sleeve.
Dairy herd simplification
Moving from a 'modern' system using TMR rations and a herd split into three milking groups to self feed silage and all milkers in a single group has reduced labour and costs and done little to damage yield. The organic farm focusses on grass and forage - the article has a huge number of useful tips and ideas for others to find out about.
When a large 3,000+ acre arable business replaces a Cat Challenger and a John Deere 8530 with two Fendt 724 (240hp) and says that one would be enough and the second is 'a luxury' to do all the establishment work anyone would look up. And when you see that crops are getting better we have a very interesting story. In our eyes it represents the start of a new agricultural revolution, as important as the development of artificial fertilisers and pesticides. As our headline says, it's 'A Farming Step-Change that spells Sustainable'.
What's going on with the CAP? What are the main changes affecting the tax allowances in 2013/14 and how do you calculate them? If finance should be your thing, but perhaps isn't the first thing you think of when you get up in the morning, these two pages might help!
Zero grazing: A home made set-up used to harvest grass from waterlogged fields. Allows cows to be in when it's wet and out when it's dry and have no change in their diet.
Bio-Gas: This Anaerobic Digester exports electricity to the grid and has a return on Capital Invested of no less than 37%. Designed by a farmer and others, the system overcomes the snags experienced by many AD plants which use farm waste as feedstock. An essential article for anyone considering AD. Farmers need to be quick to get in. This is the best system we have seen.
Mobile cattle handling: Another equipment essential, this one is built on a modified trailer chassis and uses a commercial crush.
Pipe bender: here's a machine which has put a 12in diameter 180 bend into thousands of lengths of heavy wall 50mm pipe - used as tombstone barriers all over the Orkney Isles.
Practical Farm Ideas Nov 2013 - Feb 2014 Issue 22-3
48 pages. £3.85 Annual subscription (UK) £15.40 All editorial, no advertising
Contents has total of 43 'Made it Myself ideas