Saturday, July 07, 2012

Tractor lines and wheat

click photo to enlarge
I've lived in Lincolnshire for five years and during that time I've taken an interest in the agriculture that is to be found here. Cereals and vegetables prevail, especially on the Fens and the better land. Beef and dairy cattle are also reasonably common though there is much less than in the west of Britain. Sheep can also be seen though again in smaller numbers than in the west. What is very noticeable is the way that the land is intensively cultivated with a view to maximizing production and profit. This is most obvious in vegetable production, but it can be seen with cereals too.

I read that the UK produces more wheat than it consumes. However, though some wheat is exported, there is also importation of wheat varieties that can't be grown in our climate. All this is good for the balance of payments, seems to produce a good income for farmers (with the help of the EU farm policy), and provides for the country's food needs in flour and animal feed. Over the past few years I've watched the cycle of the local winter wheat production. The activities are roughly as follows, modified, of course, by the weather: September - land ploughed and prepared for sowing; October - seed sown (drilled); November - herbicide application to control weeds; December - young wheat left to grow; January - as for previous month; February - fertiliser applied; March - fertiliser applied; April - nitrogen fertiliser applied; May - nitrogen fertiliser applied; June - fungicide application applied; July - wheat left to grow; August - wheat harvested. As you can see there is very little respite for the land, and the wheat fields' contribution to feeding wildlife, which was formerly significant, has been reduced to virtually zero.

On a recent outing to photograph "lines in the landscape" I saw many fields with flourishing wheat, some with patches where recent strong winds and rain had flattened the crop, and more than I've seen before with puddles of water in the tractor lines. The example above is not untypical. It will be something of a nuisance for a farmer, but for a passing photographer it's a very useful piece of foreground interest!

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 24mm
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -1.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On