The farming column with Sam Walton

Even though there is satellite navigation equipment in combines and tractors we still need people to drive them.
Even though there is satellite navigation equipment in combines and tractors we still need people to drive them.

Who would be a farmer? Inclement weather, an uncertain future, more and more land lost to buildings as well as erosion, I sometimes think we are in a declining industry.

Other times I am very positive about the future, as there will always be need of food and there is going to be a higher world population to feed from less and less land.

Of course some people are very entrepreneurial by using former underground bunkers to produce a variety of quick growing salad crops in a matter of days and that of course does not need agricultural land as such.

So maybe there is a future in Agriculture but I struggle to see what it will be like.

The changes from when I was nobbut a lad are unbelievable, our grandparents were progressive in their day using whatever was at hand to do whatever it was they were trying to achieve. What I think we might be heading for is a call for less labour, particularly on the vegetable side where many foreign workers are employed, as more and more robotic machines appear, machines which can sows weed, spray, fertilise and now harvest on their own.

There is now talk of driverless cars which I wouldn’t want, I actually enjoy driving and have done a lot of it. We have had for a number of years, satellite navigation of various farming machinery, tractors, combines and sprayers, plus weeding machines, which is fine but someone has to drive them.

I well remember visiting a farming friend in Australia and hearing the story of one of his neighbours who had sat navigation on his crawler tractor. This farmer had long fields and did not have air conditioning so the driver would get out of the cab and sit on one of the mudguards until the end and then climb back in to turn it round.

On one of the trips, the vibrations caused the door to lock itself so can you imagine how the driver felt when he had to report to the boss that the expensive tractor was lying smashed up in a deep hole!

I would like to thank readers for their comments, some kind, some Yorkshire blunt, as I write my last column for the Pocklington Post.