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Summer 2016

Why do farmers like flying?

I was asked ‘Why do farmers like flying?’ some time ago by my wife's cousin, Jim McBride, who was the Senior Captain, featured in the TV series ‘Airline UK - Easy Jet’.

The answer is simple: apart from the sheer enjoyment and sense of freedom one gets from piloting a small plane in uncontrolled airspace, the aspect from the air gives you the best view to see how your crops are doing; areas where growth is slow become apparent as do areas where weed infestation is the greatest. This information is useful to make the most economic use of fertilizer and pesticide, rather than treating the whole field with the same rate of application, which is neither good for the pocket nor the environment. While crop walking will always be essential in order to identify the exact cause of the problem, a glimpse from the air will narrow down where to look especially on the larger farms.

Keeping photographic records from the air is also useful for planning and record keeping. Occasionally one spots unusual features, only apparent from the air, such as outlines of the foundations of old buildings and tracks, which could be of archaeological interest.

You may say that it seems an expensive way of farm management; however in my case, giving up smoking (and one or two other things) virtually paid for my flying lessons. Okay, that was back in the 70s, however that investment in time and money has paid off many times.

Dave Bird