Farming Insight: Visit by Stanningfield club members reveals hi-tech change

Sid Broughton of Stanningfield and District Agricultural Club on an enlightening visit to Robert Baker’s farm

STANNINGFIELD and District Agricultural Club’s summer programme of events concluded with three very enjoyable visits by the members of the Stanningfield and District Agricultural Club to local places of interest which proved to be very informative and interesting.

On a balmy summer evening the members met Martin Taylor, an official town guide, on Angel Hill for a guided walk around the older areas of Bury St Edmunds. Starting in the Abbey Gardens with the club members being local people some felt that they already knew the town quite well. However Martin soon proved that his knowledge of the town’s history complemented local knowledge very well to create a very interesting and informative stroll. Whilst walking through some of the lesser known streets and walks memories of recent histories were discussed. Many people recalled the position and names of a number of inns now lost to the town’s people. To support this discussion the club members finished the evening in one of the surviving old inns sampling the local brew and lamenting the loss of those old institutions such as the cattle market and the importance of the Corn Exchange etc.

A farm visit to Robert Baker on his farm in Drinkstone showed how the traditional farming techniques of Suffolk are rapidly changing. The club members were treated to a tractor and trailer tour of the large acreage of Robert’s enterprise and soon realised that high volume farming was the way forward. Robert talked as the tour progressed on how his current use of hi-tech machinery and equipment made this sort of farming very efficient. Satellite guidance and control of tractors and machines ensured accuracy of planting and fertilising with reduced wastage and minimised manpower. This style of high volume output was felt to be important if the world was to continue feeding the growing population. Some age old problems still exist however such as changing weather patterns and the influence of pest such as rabbits, pigeons and deer which must be controlled with a balance of nature retained. The evening was concluded by Robert’s family kindly providing an excellent picnic showing that technologies may change but the pleasures of traditional friendship and hospitality within the agricultural community still thrives.

A Sunday morning trip to The Animal Health Trust at Kentford near Newmarket concluded the club’s summer of events. Mr Andrew Simmonds met the group and introduced them the the Trust’s excellent lecture theatre. Here he explained the purpose and work of the AHT explaining that this was a charitable body solely financed by public donations. The work of the unit was to combat disease and injury to Horses, Cats and Dogs. Research and education was undertaken in the field of veterinary medicine and surgery. Some 200 people were employed working in state of the art operating theatres and laboratories. The club members were taken on a tour of the premises but were unable to enter clinical areas. The whole unit is situated in Lenwades Park which includes a beautiful old Hall. It is planned that the hall may be used for public functions to help to boost the finances of the Trust. At the end of the tour refreshment was enjoyed in the visitors centre concluding this informative and very interesting visit.

By Sid Broughton