16.05.24

National Hedgerow Week 2024

This year's National Hedgerow week was from the 6th - 12th May.

Yes I know we're a little late applauding this important time of the year but as an essential part of our farming environment we feel it's important to celebrate them all year round. We have 100km of hedgerow on our farm managed under an environmental stewardship.
Hedgerows form the UK’s largest wildlife habitat and crucial to halting biodiversity decline and tackling climate change. They provide wildlife with a sheltered and bountiful highway network; protecting crops; creating living boundaries, capturing carbon, and delivering more than a little beauty to our fields.
 

Another day in Bedfordshire

Tom Atkinson

On a sunny July day last year Tom Atkinson joined Bedfordia Farms’ arable team as our Arable Student Placement for 2021/22.

Brought up on his family’s farm in North Yorkshire near Malton (15 miles from York), Tom was out helping with the livestock – pigs and sheep and the arable side of things, from an early age. So while studying for a BSc in Agriculture at Harper Adams, Tom took up the opportunity to head south for the summer to find out what it’s like to work on a larger arable and pig farm.

During the lull before harvest , his first couple of weeks were filled with odd jobs such as preparing and servicing the machinery and filling in potholes in the roads and tracks around the farm. The temporary harvest recruits arrived around soon after and by the end of July harvesting started. Initially tasked with corn carting, Tom soon moved on to cultivation and straw carting, even spending a day or two helping in the grain store with Carl.

‘During this time I was mainly working with Graham and Fred on field cultivation, which I really enjoyed.  It was mostly minimum tillage and direct drilling using a Horsch Avatar and 6250 JD. At one stage I cultivated a 150-hectare block of wheat, which kept me busy for a while!’  

He continued to work long hours helping with preparations for drilling throughout September, applying granular herbicide Avadex (to combat black grass) with the Bateman crop sprayer and drilled until the beginning of November. 

Once the equipment was cleaned, serviced and put away Tom moved over to work with the pig teams – Highfields and Arno breeding units and Twinwoods finishing unit.

‘It’s been great working with Edd and his team, everyone has been very friendly and helpful – its hard work but I’ve learnt a lot. It’s amazing how much there is to take in as you have to be on the ball all the time, especially in the breeding unit – constantly vigilant and looking out for any changes in the piglets.’

2022 started with Tom learning the art of hedge cutting with Graham and Tommy on a JD 6250 and McConnell hedge cutter.

Tom will be with us for another harvest in 2022 as his contract runs until the end of September 22.

When he hasn’t been working Tom's enjoyed playing rugby for local team Sharnbrook and meeting up with mates.

‘I’m really enjoying my time with Bedfordia Farms, everyone has been great, encouraging me to learn new skills and making me feel one of the team.  It’s difficult to pick out a couple of highlights as I’ve enjoyed most things I’ve done, but if I was pushed I’d say learning how to drive the sprayer and working with the pigs.’

‘I’m passionate about farming and can’t see myself ever being away for this business as I think losing my home farming experience, my degree and what I’ve done with Bedfordia,  would be a waste. I think it’s important to support the farming fraternity, especially when the industry is so fragile and going through so much change.’

Kerri Coffey

Initially struggling with her degree at Harper Adams, with hard work and determination Kerri achieved exam and assignment results above 90% and was awarded a combined placement with AHDB and Bedfordia within the pig Industry.
 
‘In my first assignment, I received a low mark and was distraught, but I sought help from my lecturers and academic support and have been flying ever since”, says BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Animal Science student Kerri, who adds that, “I put everything into my degree, because I started my studies at 21, I think it means more to me to do well as I had to complete a Level 2 and Level 3 Extended Diploma before coming to Harper. A consequence of being too interested in milking and calving cows than studying for my GCSE’s!’
 
‘However, my educational scenic route has provided me with fantastic opportunities to gain experience working on dairy herds up to 1500, learning how to make cheese and ice-cream through farm diversification and looking after a herd in France to being a quality assurance auditor in a poultry factory. Not forgetting my travels that have taken me across Europe, the Americas and Australia… but I can’t quite put my finger on whether Guatemala or Panama was my favourite!’
 
Starting her placement with Bedfordia in 2021, Kerri spent time working at the breeding and finishing farms in Bedfordshire. Kerri’s placement with Bedfordia realised her ambition to work in the pig industry. She said: ‘I was very excited to be completing my placement year with AHDB and Bedfordia. I gained experience in practical and technical aspects of the pig industry, carrying out trials on pig health, welfare and nutrition: I built up protocols, doing the necessary research and writing up literature reviews.’
 
Outside of her studies, Kerri is an active member of the universities’ student body. “This year I set up the British Society of Animal Science Harper ambassador team. We worked alongside Deputy Vice Chancellor Michael Lee to increase BSAS members within Harper undergrads to help them gain global contacts and receive support from leading industry professionals or renowned researchers. 



 

David Scott

Keen to work on a larger farm and to learn more arable farming skills, David was on the lookout for a new role when he saw a Bedfordia Farms post on Facebook and decided to send in his CV on spec.  Timing is everything and it was when Farms were looking for harvest staff and so David  joined the Bedfordia team in June 2022.
‘I’ve really enjoyed working at Bedfordia and have learnt a lot. Everyone is very helpful and will give you a hand if you ask. I’ve enjoyed harvest time the most as it’s great working with such a great team – wheat and bale karting has been great and I’ve enjoyed learning to drill. I’m not so keen on digestate application and slurry karting as the smell seems to get everywhere but it’s just something you have to do on a farm. I’ve enjoyed driving the JD 6250R, which is a great bit of kit.’
Harvest staff have accommodation provided and David has been living in a caravan on-site since he joined. As always a caravan can be too cold and too hot but David has leant a few tricks especially during winter – such as to keep the tap flowing slightly to prevent it from freezing.
When not working, David likes shooting and mountain biking.
He will leave us at the end of harvest this year and at the moment isn’t sure what he will do. He might join his older brother Zac who is currently working in Australia. Whatever he does, we wish him all the best and know he will do well.
 

Carl Hudson

With an Engineering NVQ at Bedford College and still working on his family’s mixed farm at Dean, Carl first started working for Bedfordia as an arable contractor. In 2019 he joined the Grain Services, working full time as the Grain Store Co-ordinator.

First thing on a Monday morning, Carl checks the temperature of the wheat in the flat stores with a probe to make sure all is well before turning his attention to what’s booked in for...