Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Bridging the Ambridge divide

Before I came to work on rural research, I didn’t give much thought to the range of different skills that the farmer needs to access in order to run a farm efficiently.  Although I’m a regular listener to The Archers, all those references to land agents, agronomists and ecologists rather passed me by.  It didn’t help that land agent Graham Ryder was, for many years the most boring character in the serial.  As for Alistair Lloyd the vet, I was more interested in his relationship with Shula Hebden (nee Archer) than his farm health planning sessions with David Archer.  But over recent years even I have become aware of the complex challenges that the farmers of Ambridge are facing and their need for increasingly specialist knowledge across a wide range of professions.  Unpredictable weather has become a fact of life, even in Borsetshire.  The unprecedented wet summer and its effects have been written into the script and although we haven’t heard any discussions about its possible causes I’m sure that Brian and Pat have been locking horns over climate change in the Bull.  An ecologist was key in advising Willow Farm on a new eco-friendly reed bed solution to livestock waste disposal.  Meanwhile, over at Brookfield, David and Ruth Archer took specialist advice on their milk production, in the face of dwindling profits, and are now moving to autumn calving.  It’s a good time to be an independent consultant in Borsetshire, as everyone seems to be seeking their expertise.  Modern farming involves so many different professions, I just hope they are all working together on their project planning.  In fact I can’t help thinking that our new Landbridge networking site for rural professionals could help them to do just that.  And having now met several land agents who are very far from boring, I wonder whether logging into Landbridge might widen even Graham Ryder’s horizons.

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