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Scale of the Market and Potential Commercial Benefit

Scale of the market

In 2004, rabbits alone were estimated to cause economic losses > £100M. [reference: DEFRA Rural Development Service Technical Advice Note 01 – Rabbits. See attached document.]. There is no reason to believe that these losses have reduced in the subsequent 15 years, indeed in 2010 the Guardian reported that there were 40million rabbits in the UK costing more than £260M damage to crops, business and infrastructure (reference: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/dec/15/rabbits-invasive-species-cost)
Additionally, losses due to pigeon damage to OSR crops is also high, with the Farmers Weekly reporting up to £53M losses to rape crops in East Anglia region alone (reference: http://www.fwi.co.uk/arable/scarecrows-back-in-50m-pigeon-battle.htm).

Potential commercial benefit

At a standard application rate of 0.25L/ha, costing £12.50/ha, preventing just a 1-2% loss of yield (depending on crop type) due to grazing herbivores provides a cost effective return to growers (see attached costings sheet).
As it is widely reported from farmers and consultants that losses of up to 20-25% crops can be attributed to herbivorous grazing pests, then the potential commercial benefit cannot be overstated.

 

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Four Things you can grow in your Apartments

Once upon a time growing your own vegetables meant spending time in the allotment or garden tending to your greens in a kind of organic ‘Good Life’ type way. However, particularly over the last decade when consumers have become more conscious about what goes into the food they eat, the amount of grow your own city dwellers has increased. In fact, growing your own isn’t just something you might associate with families and those heading towards middle age, as many young professionals also want to get in on the healthy eating act. According to research in a Guardian article last year approximately 5% of fruit and vegetables consumed were grown at home.

Growing your own vegetables in an apartment setting may seem difficult at face value but some innovative solutions might give you everything you need to get started. There are some perfect locations and spaces to use in an apartment including on windowsills, using handrails, being creative on a balcony or using a fire escape (so long as you leave it clear).

If you want to get started with some straight forward vegetables here’s a few suggestions from us.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a great plant to get started with for indoor growing. The key with tomatoes is the requirement for warm temperatures so ideally they’ll need plenty of sunlight close to a window. To ensure you get a full supply particularly throughout summer months during the warmer weather it’s worth planting a new batch once a fortnight.

Mushrooms

Rich in protein and one of your five a day, our next recommendation is the mushroom. The thing about growing mushrooms indoors is that they prefer dark, cool and humid conditions. A suitable cupboard under a sink or elsewhere in the kitchen may provide optimum conditions. If you are considering growing your own mushrooms we’d always recommend purchasing a starter kit from a reputable retailer rather than picking your own.

Salad Leaves

If you are thinking of growing your own salad then from late spring through until autumn is the perfect time of year. Salads are great for growing indoors and can be contained easily. Once again, you’ll need to ensure that the plants are provided with sufficient sunlight and heat throughout the day, approximately 12 hours. If window space is at a premium you can also invest in artificial lighting which will provide you with the conditions you need.

Herbs

The great thing about growing herbs indoors is that not only are they easy to grow but they require minimal attention and can provide lovely smells as well as wonderfully fresh food. Most herbs will require exposure to sunlight for at least four hours a day so balconies, wall mounted boxes and windowsills are perfect.

Here’s just a few of our suggestions but we’d love to hear from our followers. What types of vegetable do you grow indoors? What are you experiences of getting the most from home grown veg? Tweet us @Grazersfamily.

 

 

 

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An Insight Into Farming: What’s Changed?

At Grazers our family has always been involved in farming and over the years we’ve seen so many changes. The evolution is staggering and we’re excited to see what the future brings.

 

The fundamentals of farming will almost always stay the same, however the process and procedure of obtaining the desired outcome will evolve in line with shifts in technology, economy and law. In this article, we will explore how farming has changed, and potentially where it may in the near future

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Machinery

 

One of the biggest and most notable shifts in the farming industry has been down to the advancement of machinery. Gone are the days where you would need a large work force to plough and harvest, whereas now it can come to a one-man job.

 

This has obviously had an effect on the need for physical man-power and labour costs –  a positive and negative, respectively. What are your thoughts on technology?

 

Weather

 

The good old British weather has a direct impact on farming, but perhaps not so much today as in decades’ past. When the warmer weather hit, extra hands were hired to collect the cut hay as it needed to be as dry as possible. Now, the gathering and baling of hay is almost always done by machine, reducing the cost of labour and risk. That said, the impact of global warming and extreme weather patterns provides many of us with concerns.

 

Competition

 

Over the past 50 years or so, farming has become more specialised. Due to supply and demand farmers now compete on a global scale so increasing in size to maximise farm efficiency . In past years’ farms were mixed ie. producing crops and livestock in a rotation for local markets.

 

Due to this farms are generally much larger than they used to be. Methods of pig and sheep farming has changed significantly due to this increase of demand, and the results of this are evident even to the consumer. Try and buy some mutton from your butcher! You’ll find it’s lamb!

 

 

Brexit

 

The most recent major shift for most UK industries has been the vote to leave the European Union. This will most certainly affect the agricultural sector, and dependant on which side of the fence you sit on will determine your view. The results of the vote will only be evident with time, and we hope it will be positive!

 

We’re fascinated with the changes in agriculture and the potential for further development in the UK. At Grazers we are huge fans of Integrated pest management which is becoming an increasingly more prevalent factor in farming strategy. Please feel free to contact us for more information about how we can help.

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Who’s That Pest? It’s Deer.

In this series of articles, we will be looking into a variety of pests, some common, and others not-so common. We will take an insight into their instinctual behaviour, animalistic habits, seasonal differences and of course, what they can do to your crops or garden if unchecked!

 

To start off this series, we’ll look into one of the more common pests here in the UK and abroad; the magnificent but potentially devastating deer!

 

Wild animals are what make nature so wonderful to watch, and it is important we find ways to comfortably coexist in the best interest of humans and animals. Deer are a fantastic example of how this is possible, especially being a pest on the larger end of the scale.

Diet

The diet of the deer varies dramatically dependent on the season. During the early, warmer parts of the year in Spring and Summer, deer tend to graze on grasses which contain necessary levels of protein for the deer to stay healthy. During autumn, deer will look for more substantial food sources which will provide them with the necessary fats to see out the colder months.

 

Reproduction

 

The mating season, known as the rut, takes place in late July and August – usually the warmest time of the year. The kids are born usually around May or June following the rut, a favourable time of year for the offspring to survive. Twins and even triplets are very common, often left in shrubby areas with the doe returning to feed them regularly after feeding herself.

 

Control

 

Due to natural predators such as bears, large cats and wolves now being extinct in the UK, the deer population can become dense – especially if twins and triplets are common.

cougar

Their excessive eating habits can be disastrous for agriculture, plant species diversity, and can cause significant damage to forestry. Wildlife rangers now manage deer population in a humane and sensitive manner.

 

Habitat Preference

 

This is based entirely on the species of deer where you are located. We have three main species in the UK:

 

  • Muntjac Deer
  • Fallow Deer
  • Roe Deer

 

Muntjac deer are a timid and secretive deer, and prefer to hide in thick woodland and overgrown gardens. They are however very versatile when it comes to adapting to habiti, which has allowed them to spread through the UK very effectively.

 

Fallow deer are more accustomed to a lighter variation of woodland with a dense undergrowth. They’re partial to thick meadows, marshes and are often seen on agricultural land – feasting on your crops!

 

Roe deer are the most extrovert of deer and are more than happy in wide open spaces, and can been seen in large gardens in rural and suburban areas.

 

With over 10 years in business, we have developed a highly effective pest-friendly spray for farmers, growers and avid gardeners to use  against damage from deer. If you would like a friendly chat about how we can help, please let us know!

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Do Farmers Take Winter Off?

If you’re a farmer, know a farmer or generally around farmers, you’ll know the well asked questions “So, what do you do during Winter?” The preconception being – not a lot! Becoming accustomed with day time TV, visit some family and generally have a rest…

 

WRONG!

 

Just because the weather turns colder and the days become shorter doesn’t mean a welcome break for farmers. If anything, this is when certain tasks around the farm (dependant on what you’re farming) become essential. Farmers are the ultimate example of ‘fail to prepare, then prepare to fail’.

 

Farming may sometimes look glamourous, being able to wander through golden fields, sheep dog in tow, chewing on a piece of barley; but don’t forget, farming is a business. Farmers need to make money and need a strategy just like anyone else running an enterprise.

 

Included in that strategy is Winter. And here’s what some farms do to maximise their labour effectiveness through the cold months:

 

Maintenance

 

One of the biggest and most important tasks on the farm is the maintenance of equipment. Almost every farm now uses machinery to increase productivity and reduce the number of physical man-hours for safety and cost reasons.

 

Ever tried starting your 10-year-old car up on a frosty morning? Wish you’d have taken it for its service last month? Well farming equipment is exactly the same. Without regular and proper maintenance, some machinery will simply seize up and refuse to work during Winter and into Spring.

 

Administration

 

As we mentioned above, farming is just like running any other business. The fundamentals are exactly the same: you need to turn a profit to keep up and running. This means that there is usually a significant amount of administration and paperwork to complete to keep on top of finances and make sure you’re turning a profit.

 

What better time to make sure this is all in order than when it’s cold and dark outside!? Throw some more logs on the fire, make a brew and get your business administration head on. Remember: it’s all about preparation when it comes to farming, and paperwork is no exception!

 

Spring Livestock Prep

This obviously only applies to livestock farms, but is an important and significant task to undertake in Winter.

 

Preparing livestock such as sheep for the lambing season will help both the farmer and the livestock. Around February time the sheep will be brought in for pregnancy screening and housing, being sorted into groups of how many lambs they’re expecting to give birth to.

 

From there the feeding of concentrates begins, and a few lambs will have already been born. Vaccination and feet trimming is completed for all breeding ewes, and then around March the real lambing begins!

 

The lambs are given 24 hours’ attention which means many sleepless nights for the farmer – which is why the preparation during Winter is essential to make sure that lambing season goes as smoothly as possible!

 

Take a Break

 

So, after reading all of the above, which is only what goes on during early, mid and late Winter – do you feel farmers deserve a break? We do!

 

While things will naturally slow down, and there is only so much paperwork you can catch up on, Winter is the perfect time for farming families to visit relatives, take a short break in the sun, but where farming differs from most careers – it’s a lifestyle, and one which they love. So, the farm will always be in the forefront of their mind.

 

 

Farming is in our blood and we love to see profitable and sustainable farms doing well. If you’d like to find out more about any products we offer to help farms manage pest damage, feel free to give us a call for a chat or drop uv