Friday, 29 April 2011

Royal wedding

We are flying the flag. We have set up the board room with fresh cream scones, tea and BBC inplayer on the big screen.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Collar bone broken

Fiona said as your back can you try out a race horse to see if it would play polo. I jumped on, my hunting horse stood beside, shot off and the thoroughbred I was on took off rearing and bucking and galloping, I has no control as the bridle I had on was a halter, I decided to jump off amidst all the action. The ground is hard as hell, I hit the ground like a sack of potatoes. My goodness it hurt, I was struggling for breath and my right hand side was in difficulties. An ambulance came after 40 minutes as I refused to call or consent. Off I went to the hospital. My hip was x-rayed and chest, the doctor appeared and said there's nothing wrong with you. I limped out the Hospital with my pride battered and struggling to breath.
Today I sat in the office and got a call from the hospital, they had made a mistake I had a broken collar bone and two broken ribs. My pride has been restored.

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Sunday, 24 April 2011

Holy water in Ukraine

Easter Sunday and crowds of people with plastic bottles making there way to drink the holy water. Andrew and I stopped off to sample. It's said to protect you from illness and give you a long life. Andrew was concerned as the pipe comes out of the railway embankment and 'what makes this suspected drain so holy'. I can confirm after drinking the water that it's not evian.

Stopped off for lunch in The Royal Hotel in Budapest for old times sake, while on route to Bratislava.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Drilling in the Ukraine

18 metre Canadian built drill covering 15 ha/hour. Seen here planting spring wheat a Ukraine variety. Watching large machinery operating in large fields is fantastic. Carrier 8 metre used for rolling the land.

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Farm visit on direct drilling in East Germany.

Went to a direct drilling and controlled traffic farming visit on a farm in east Germany with michael Horsch. There where two of Michael's drills there for direct drilling, one called the sprinter NT which is know in production. Fertiliser was applied by disc and a single tine followed to place the seed. I was impressed by this design as it wasn't prone to straw raking or blockages. We looked at barley, osr, first wheats and second wheats drilled with this system over 1000's of acres. The first wheat and barley looked superb but the cold wet weather has affected the osr. The where many farmers taking an interest to see if it was a route they would pursue. Fertiliser is key in this approach.
On this farm the buildings roofs where covered in solar panels on a large scale. Germany seems ahead in leaps and bounds on electric production. We went next to one of Michael's factories to see the pronto drill in manufacture and to his trails site where he trails all manner of drilling techniques and cultivations.

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Sprinter NT

Fantastic time was had looking at the Horsch factories, trail sites, and farms. I would like to specially thank michael for giving up two days of his time to drive me around and show me his projects.
It was interesting to see the level of R and D in seeding techniques. I'm grateful for the one to one time with one of the leading minds in this area in the world.

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Bio gas in Hungary

I punched in Hungary into the GPS and it said 5.5 hours and to Australian standards this is only around the corner so off I went. I arrived at Andrew Hunters a Nuffield scholar who farms in Hungary near Gyor about 130 km from Budapest, to find him with three of the farms directors two who are Nuffield scholars showing them the nearly completed biogas projects and aims for switch on next week. For a arable boy this was amazing to see bolted onto the diary to handle slurry and produce electricity.
Andrews arable manager Ryan stones an ex Writtle boy like me showed me around the farm and potatoe packing sheds.

The sun was out and all looks well, but like England becoming very dry and causing problems with spring plantings.

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I went with Andrew to the Ukraine to there 850 ha farm. At the border which was an experience we queued for 2 hours, the guards surrounded us for there inspection. The bonnet was lifted to check the engine belonged to the car. The boot was inspected and my wash bag and breif case was rigously searched. Just when I thought it was all over a guard opened the passenger door leaned over and popped the glove box open. What andrew had forgotten was he had seven thousand pounds of petty cash. We went from tourists to suspected drug runners with new friends. Andrews skill and well practiced talks allowed us to curse to no mans land to the Ukraine border. At this point I was now sitting on the money. We arrived at our restaurant at midnight and the joys of picking off a menu that you don't understand or cant pick any words with meaning to the English language. Luckily it was a pork dish.

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Tuesday, 19 April 2011


6.30 came and michael Horsch picked me up to drive to one of his farms in Cz the otherside of Prague. 3.5 hrs of driving at speeds a range rover couldn't travel my right arm seized from hanging on to the door handle and my right leg exercised from my pretend brake peddle we made it. The boys where seeding maize with an 18 mt drill and the second team busy spraying. We looked at soil structure and compaction effects from cultivations and historical cultivation methods. I saw some amazing machines with power harrows built on cultivators and tracks on chaser bins. The farm is fantastic with large fields no hedges and few obstacles. Heavy land as well no boys land here. The difference in cz in ten years is tremendous. With the border gone you'd struggle to see the difference between Germany and cz. With yield increases from 5 or 6 tonnes a ha to 10 tonnes average on maize these boys mean business.

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Just like a James bond movie I woke to find a message from Michael Horsch to say get yourself to Germany. I booked my flight to Munich for later that day and the second message came, hire a car and drive to Prague. When I stood at the airport and the lady called over the speakers gate 14 to Prague or gate 4 to Munich I torn as to which gate. Luckily I went to Munich as the third message came meet me at a hotel at 6.30am which was only 160 km from Munich. When I arrived at 11pm I reflected on my day as a Nuffield. In the morning I had been about the farm, then meet the assistant chief constable at the police Hq to discuss rural crime on behalf of the Cla, two meetings at the farm and then sprinting to stansted to catch the plane once landed I was handed keys to a BMW, I sat in the car for about 10 minutes trying to work out what to do and how to get the GPS to speak English. I even down loaded a german to English app but it was hopeless. After driving around the multi storey carpark I found a man who could speak English. The gps was up and running and I was off. Cruising the autobahn at 180 km/hr. What a day!

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