This month I have been working with Winter projects and have been building a Bio-bed. A what? I hear you ask. A bio-bed is the latest thinking on creating an ideal area to wash out agricultural crop sprayers. We use our crop sprayer to apply pesticides and fertilisers to the crops throughout the year to help them grow and to keep them in tip top condition. Pesticides are often a potential area of controversy from some quarters, however, just like modern medicine, they are an important and necessary part of growing food. As you would visit your doctor for an aliment, being prescribed a particular medicine to be taken as directed to help you recover. This is exactly the same with our crops. We take expert advice on what remedies to use and apply them skilfully, with the best equipment and trained people.

Getting back to our bio-bed, it is a specifically designed area to wash our crop sprayer on. Capturing any pesticide residue so it can ‘bio-degrade’ naturally, rather than risk it getting into watercourses. The bio-bed is basically a large lined pond, filled with a mix of straw, compost, and soil. The bio mix allows bugs and bacteria to break down pesticides, thus cleaning the water before it is safely trickle irrigated back onto the land. As our farmyard is surrounded by a brook, I am conscious that pollution risk is an issue and I am excited to see how this new system will work.

I have enjoyed this project as it allowed me to get out of the office and get my hands dirty, literally. As often is the case with such projects, we chose rather wet conditions, and after a couple of days with a digger, created a muddy mess. The bio-bed may be nearly finished, but it will be several weeks before we fully clean up the mess we have created around it.

Next on the agenda, once the weather starts to improve for the spring, will be the planting of our spring crops. Firstly the beans, followed by barley. With this, there is no fixed date as one has to be patient. It is crucial to plant when nature is ready and the conditions are right. However, by next month I will hopefully have a progress report that at least something has been done.