Farmtrac electric tractor demo: 8th June 2022

I’ll have a chance to write this up more fully soon, but in the meantime have a look at these two great videos. One shows the tractor with a 4ft Sicma rotovator on the back; the other shows it with the flail mower attachment. The large turf tyres provide ample grip and help spread the weight; the tractor’s battery would last 3-4 hours doing this kind of rotovating; if doing lighter work then probably longer. It also charges straight into a normal 3-point plug. There is more noise than some there were expecting, mostly due to the hydraulics and noise from the PTO/attachments; but it is still so much quiter than a diesel engine – you can have a conversation pretty easily, and any normal headphones would cover the sound without the need for increased volume.

Weathering the Storms

Well that’s 3 storms in 5 days then; dreary Dudley, followed by exhausting Eunice, and finally Franklin had a good go all Sunday afternoon and most of Monday. I spent most of the Thursday, the precious 24 hours between Dudley and Eunice, mending a smashed polytunnel door (pretty standard these days after sustained gales of over 40-50mph), and trying to patch up a new rip in the Vole Tunnel polytunnel plastic. I also put in some extra bracing to fasten the doors shut on each of the 4 larger tunnels.

The Vole Tunnel after storm Eunice
The Vole tunnel on Thursday, after Storm Dudley

The good news is that this extra bracing really helped a couple of the tunnels; the Marmalade tunnel was relatively unscathed, and even though the largest Elephant tunnel had rips in around the elbow joints (poor deign), it didn’t look it too bad shape. However the previously patched up Vole tunnel is ripped to shreds thanks to the ferocity of Eunice (at least 70mph winds for several hours) – ironically the heroic polytunnel repair tape held the previous rips together, but the force of the wind battered the rest of that side of the tunnel and created and worsened other tiny unreachable rips on the ribs. The wind also snapped the base of two doorposts in the recently recovered 5-penny tunnel, just behind the Vole tunnel. Sigh.

Patched up after Dudley & awaiting Eunice

I questioned the plastic skin company earlier in the week about the rips that had appeared in the Vole tunnel again, only 5-6 years after recoving it (the plastic is usually guaranteed for 5 years, apparently since the plastic was supplied over 5 years ago – although it has only been actually on the hoops for 4-5 years – it’s out of guarantee and the company don’t want to know). They replied that my photos suggested that it might be degradation due to chorine gas, released from the old hotspot tape on the hoops. This was the first time I had ever heard of old hotspot tape giving off chlorine gas, and is clearly a massive flaw and danger to other growers and gardeners with old hotspot tape on hoops. I’m pretty sure this tape was mostly new (4-5 years old), but there may have been the odd spot where the older tape looked good so we didn’t scrape it off fully. When it comes to the sad job of recovering this tunnel in a few weeks, I’ll be making sure all the horrible old flaky tape is off, and lots of new hottape is covering all the sides of the hoops. I’m also planning a windbreak fence in front of the tunnels, to hopefully absorb some of the force of the many more storms I’m sure climate change will bring us sooner. It would be nice to think that those of us who are concerned about the environment and doing our best to lower food miles, grow health-giving food and boost soil health, capture carbon and help biodiversity, might be immune to some of the rages of the weather. Sadly not it seems.

The Vole Tunnel a week ago before the recent storms