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UK Agriculture four seasons


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Four seasons Autumn

Autumn
As the weather and days draw in, dairy herds will be housed indoors. This prevents damage to sodden fields and ensures that the stockman can keep a close eye on his stock during the dark winter months. Indoors, dairy cows will live on a diet of conserved fodder (in this case grass silage) and concentrates. Fodder is always available ad-lib.




Autumn
As the days shorten, both the quality and growth rate of forage declines. Farmers often choose to provide their livestock with supplementary feeds to help maintain growth rates or milk production. One popular feed is brewers grains, a by-product of beer production which makes an excellent supplement in beef and dairy feed rations.




Autumn
A beef cow with calf at foot. Known as suckler herds, these extensive farming systems are now common place with the animals spending most of the year outdoors. This can be achieved where the stocking density of the cattle is low and the risk of damage to pasture minimised..




Autumn
Forage maize is widely grown for feeding to beef and dairy cattle. Normally it is cut with a specialised forage harvester, ensiled and fed through the winter months. It tends to produce a good quality silage that is consitent in quality. It is a popular feed with cattle themselves.




Autumn
A young piglet at an outdoor pig unit. Even though the piglets are born outside, most are housed for fattening purposes. This allows farmers to monitor their growth and health and ensure that they do not become too fat.




Autumn
Lambs that were born earlier in the year are now drafted for sale for meat. Lambs that are not yet "fit" become store lambs that are fed on over the winter months reaching the market at any time up to the following Easter. For the early autumn months store lambs remain on grass, but later they will move on to forage crops like stubble turnips.




Autumn
By the middle of Septmeber ploughing is fully underway as the ground is prepared for autumn sown crops. Although ploughing is a traditional cultivation that has been practised for many millenia, it is now common for farmers to undertake "minimal tillage" cultivations. These tend to cultivate only the top couple of inches of soil, rather than inverting 9 inches or so, as is the case with ploughing.




Autumn
A late drilled cereal crop is being rolled to consolidate the ground. Rolling provides a good cultural control for slugs which are prevented from moving along the drill lines eating the emerging crop. Slugs can cause significant damage to cereals, especially where the crop follows oilseed rape.




Autumn
A well established crop of oilseed rape. Getting oilseed rape off to a good start is critical to avoid pest problems during the winter months - particularly damaging are wood pigeons which can decimate a weak crop. Pigeons will flock in their thousands to feed on a crop of oilseed rape during the winter months, however they do not like mature crops that have large leaves and a well developed canopy.




Autumn
The period between late September and early October is generally regarded as the prime time for drilling winter wheat. By late October the crop should be reasonably well developed having two full leaves.




Autumn
Winter wheat receives a herbicide to control broadleaved and other grass weeds. Well established crops naturally compete with weeds and so farmers and agronomists can reduce the rate of applied herbicide significantly so that financial savings can be made.




Autumn
Sugar beet is an important crop in the East Anglia region. The crop provides around 50% of the UK's sugar needs, the balance coming from overseas sugar cane. However, recent reform of the EC Sugar Regime has reduced support for the beet crop and imports of cane are expected to rise in the coming years.




Autumn
Beans are fresh in season along with many other vegetables and lots of fruit. Fresh seasonal produce always taste great and if you have bought it from a local producer you will have the added satisfaction of knowing that the "food miles" will be low.




Autumn
Pears are in season but as October draws to a close, fruit is either windblown or damaged by frost. Fresh UK fruit will soon only be available from store.




Autumn
Parsnips are now in season. These sweet tasting root crops are now commonly used as a compliment to roast meats - however in the past they have been used in pies, bakes, cakes and as chips. Traditionally, parsnip fodder would have also provided a green feed to the farmer's beef and dairy cows.




Autumn
A depleted reservoir at the beginning of November. The escalating human demand for resources cannot always be covered by nature and in the South East of England the situation is particularly severe. November typically marks the return of rising resevoir and ground water levels as soils become saturated and demand declines.




Autumn
A Red Admiral in flight late in October. Red Admirals migrate to the Northern parts of Europe each spring and can be seen in flight late into November. Recent sightings of the butterfly in the early spring months suggests that with warmer winters it may now be successfully overwintering in the UK.




Autumn
Leaf fall. Still cold conditions encourage the best of autumn leaf colour - usually short lived pending the arrival of an autumn gale.




Autumn
Ink caps in grassland. Many toadstools appear overnight in damp autumn conditions shedding millions of spores. While toadstools tend to disappear with the first frosts, fungi continue to break down organic matter returning nutrients to the soil.




Autumn
Young branches of an Ash tree are heavily laden with winged seeds that will be spread by autumn wind. Ash is common tree that produces excellent firewood, is drought resistant and not susceptible to damage by squirrels.




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