Cereals: The Seeds of Life Harvest

Cereals: The Seeds of Life

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Across the country the race is on to bring in our food. It's Harvest


time! Gathering in the bounty of the land, is the most crucial event in


the countryside calendar And now, as this year's harvest reaches its


climax. It's time to see exactly what's happening with all our crops.


Seeds of life to sustain us. Fresh vegetables pulled from the earth.


Fruit that's our sweet treat. All conjured up from Mother Nature.


We'll be discovering the remarkable craft, and magic of farming. And


finding out just where our food comes from. No matter how clever


farming becomes, our crops are still at the mercy of the weather.


Harvest 2012 was a disaster. After record summer rainfall, crops failed


and prices spiralled. Can 2013 put our farmers back on


track to deliver the food we all rely on? As the harvest comes in we


will reveal the results. This time we're looking at our


cereals, the seeds of life. This is wheat, and it feeds the world. But


have our farmers grown enough for us? Welcome to Harvest 2013!


We are in the last flush of summer. Harvest is happening all around. I'm


Gregg Wallace, greengrocer by trade. This is by far my favourite season


of the year. No better time to explore the business behind getting


great food on our plates. I'm Philippa Forrester. I'm particularly


interested in the quality of our food that we buy. But also because


I've grown my own for so many years, I'm fascinated by how these guys do


it on such a massive scale. We're here at a classic arable farm in


Essex. For a year we've been following the wheat crop from


planting right through to harvest. And right now we're going to see


what it takes to bring in these crucial grains - to give us our


daily bread. We'll also find out about other valuable cereal crops


across the country. Rapeseed is famous for its striking yellow


flowers. But what are the secrets of its tiny dark seeds? How are golden


fields of barley and their precious grains turned into whisky? And food


expert Stefan Gates will unpack the science behind how our crops are


grown. Out there somewhere is our farmer working nonstop to get his


crop in. Let's go and meet Tom. On days when the sun's shining


there's no better place to be, and I never struggle to find the


motivation to get out of bed Tom Bradshaw took a bold decision when


he started to run the family farm. He gambled its future, selling the


livestock to risk everything on growing crops. You just can't


imagine, if somebody had said 20 years ago this what we'd be doing


now there's not a chance I'd have believed them. To secure the


family's future, Tom turned to growing wheat and mixed grains.


Success rested on the quality of their soil, so Tom dug deep into the


science. I applied for a scholarship, and got the opportunity


to research what was happening in our soils and then I went off around


the world and saw hundreds of different farmers, and learnt a huge


amount. Everything we eat comes from the soil. Without a really healthy,


living soil system, then we can't produce the food that we rely on to


survive. It is the centre of life on earth. We want to be the people in


the area that are recognised for doing the job better than anyone


else. Everyone is sort of buzzing around the start of harvest and


we're really looking forward to the hard work and the results from the


previous year. Well, Tom, we appreciate that this


is absolutely your most busy time, the wheat harvest. So thank you very


much for having us here, cluttering up your farm. How's it going? Well,


we're in the beginning of the harvest here on this farm and we're


waiting to see what the quality and what the quantity is like. So it's


really early days because we can look at the grain and it looks OK,


but until we have it tested we don't know what it's going to be used for.


If it doesn't meet the grade and it's not high enough protein, then


actually what ends up is this goes to chickens or pigs, and it's worth


a lot less as animal feed than it is as bread wheat. Oh! We didn't have a


very good spring did we, we had a really cold spring, we had a


disastrous last year. I mean, if you think back to the spring of last


year we had the wettest year on record. And it was just awful. But


more importantly than that we didn't have any sunshine, and crops just


cannot grow without sunshine. But it means that this harvest is actually


really important. This harvest is critical for many farmers, because


large parts of the country had a terrible time last year and then


we've had a really challenging autumn, some farmers are desperately


trying to keep their foot in the door and what we need to know now is


A, what the yields are, B, what the quality is and C, what the prices


are. Are we going to have wheat good enough here to bake some really good


bread? Let's hope so.So this harvest is all about wheat. But how


did wheat become so fundamental to our diet? Meet the wheat. Some


10,000 years ago wild strains of this grass, cultivated in the Middle


East, gave birth to farming. Hidden this grass, cultivated in the Middle


in the wheat-head are the tiny grains we eat. They contain a rich


core of protein and carbohydrate - the energy store to grow a new


plant. Now it's the staple food for over a third of the human race.


Wheat covers more of the earth's surface than any other crop. Britain


has an excellent climate for growing wheat. The south of England was once


a breadbasket for the Roman Empire. In 1981, Britain set the world


record for wheat yield from a single field. Will harvest 2013 break the


current record, now held by New Zealand?


I love that, the story of wheat and the story of western civilization so


closely entwined. And my new friends at Rothamstead Research, look what


they've given us. 10,000 years of wheat history. And that wheat


history, well, that's our history. And the one that fascinates me the


most is this one here, at the point when we stopped being hunter


gatherers and we started being farmers. This is what we would have


grown. And when we started to grow our own foods like this, well,


Western civilization, it just blossomed. Wild wheat plants still


grow today in the Middle East. Using their seeds, and cultivated wheat


preserved for hundreds of years, the scientists at Rothamsted have grown


this amazing timeline. Over thousands of years our ancestors


selected bigger wheat plants with more, and fatter grains. But by the


1950s we had reached the limit. The wheat heads were so heavy they were


easily flattened by wind and rain. Farmers now needed plants with


shorter, stronger stems. Modern wheat, little short stems, and nice


big fat juicy heads. But that plant there, bears very little resemblance


to the one we started off with 10,000 years ago. I like to think of


the Romans, growing wheat here in Essex as they did 2,000 years ago,


and the problems that they faced back then are very similar to the


problems our Tom faces now. Now he should have been planting out last


autumn but the weather back then was terrible. Let's see how he got on.


The wettest summer for a century had left wheat fields looking like


swimming pools. By early October, Tom still hadn't sown any of his


wheat crop. But a rare break in the weather gave him the opportunity


he'd been desperately waiting for. So we start off with a little wheat


seed here. This sort of reddy colour because they've all had fungicide


applied to them. So this tries to keep the plant in healthy condition


right the way from day one. On the back of the tractor here we've got


our seed drill. We've got the main hopper here which holds about a


tonne of seed. So we drop the seed into the top of the hopper, the


seeds are then blown down these pipes here and as it comes down


these pipes, the tyne at the front here makes a groove and the seed is


then dropped down in the trench behind the tyne


then dropped down in the trench we've got a levelling harrow which


just levels everything off and just makes sure that the seed is all


buried. This is one of most important days in the crop's life.


If this goes wrong at this stage important days in the crop's life.


then really there's nothing we can do for the rest of the season.


Making the most of the decent do for the rest of the season.


weather, and with the success of his 2013 harvest at stake, Tom started


his seeds on the beginning of their remarkable journey. Stefan Gates has


been exploring the nature of these little embryonic marvels.


Seeds are nature's way of ensuring that plants survive into the next


generation. But what exactly is a seed?


Seeds come in lots of different shapes and sizes, but within every


single one of them, new life has already been created. This is a


broad bean pod. If I Open it up, you find these. Now these beans are all


actually little seeds. If I cut Open the protective coating and take a


look inside... This little bit up here is the


embryo: it contains all the genetic information the seed needs to become


an adult plant. All the rest of the bean is the endosperm, it's a


package of energy to support it on the first stage of its journey.


Given a very precise combination of the right temperature, and enough


water, the seed will germinate and the plant start to push up in search


of sunlight. Each bean contains about one calorie: the energy it


requires to reach the surface. Under optimum conditions, it can grow at a


staggering rate of three centimetres a day. It's the energy in the seeds


that we're after - in wheat it's stored as carbohydrate. Dark brown


rapeseeds contain edible oil, and that's their energy store,


concentrated inside a tiny package, even smaller than wheat. Take a


handful of seeds to a desert island, and you should be able to feed


yourself forever more. Because all that's needed to start growing


something this tiny, into something this huge, is water, warmth, and


sunlight. By the end of November last year,


the seeds Tom had sown five weeks ago were just beginning to emerge.


But with the awful weather he still hadn't managed to plant enough wheat


for his harvest. By the big freeze in January this year, he was


seriously worried. We've had tonnes of rain falling on this field.


People think about millimetres and inches, but every raindrop that's


fallen on this field, over the size we've got here is tonnes of rain. As


they fall on the ground, every raindrop gradually pounded it down


and we end up with the soil being compacted. These fields are


saturated, they're really wet. The only reason we're able to plough at


the moment is because it's been really cold, minus eight, minus nine


the moment is because it's been last night and it means that the


frost in the surface can take the weight of the machinery. Without


that we wouldn't be able to move, and as soon as the frost lifts we're


not going to be able to do anything, so thankfully while the frost is


here we're able to get some work done. Ploughing might seem like good


news, but not for Tom. Usually he injects his seeds directly into the


soil, without the need to plough at all. He treats his soil as a living


ecosystem, full of worms and helpful bacteria, but he had to plough them


up. It was the only way to get air back into the compacted sodden soil


and give him a chance to get the rest of his wheat seeds planted. We


haven't ploughed in this field for eight years and it was a really


tough decision. It's something that goes against our morals and the way


we're trying to head. We've been working with nature, trying to build


up the organic matters, encouraging the earth worms and trying to get


everything working for us and suddenly you come in here now and


undo a lot of good work very quickly. But it's just what we had


to do to try and salvage something. I can kind of understand you being


passionate about soil as a gardener and we're told all different ways of


managing it, you know, one minute you're meant to dig deep, the next


minute you're not meant to dig at all. But I never really thought


about it in relation to farming. I mean the soil for us in fundamental


to everything we produce. It is absolutely at the core of what we're


doing and unless we look after it absolutely at the core of what we're


and treat it as a special habitat that it is, we can't expect to


produce the best crops. It's an organic thing, isn't it? This is


alive, it's full of bugs. There's billions of bacteria in here and we


need to let them thrive, and feed them and make sure they've got the


correct nutrition, just like you and I need to eat. The soil needs


feeding as well and if we look after this, then everything above it looks


after itself. It saves us having to put a lot of the artificial


fertilisers on because they're all put a lot of the artificial


contained in here. So how do you manage your soil that's different


from the way most farmers might do? We treat every area of this field


separately. So we have it all zoned so if we go onto the map here you


can see that on the map is all these different colours around the field


can see that on the map is all these and that's because every area that's


a different colour needs managing differently because when we test it


it's got specific things that need managing separately to the other


areas in the field. So some areas I can see are rich in some minerals


and some areas are more acid than alkaline, and you're managing each


field, and each area of each field for that. Exactly that. As we drive


across the field, every area is given specific applications to


across the field, every area is that area up to the rest of the


field. So you really do take it to an extreme We have to, cause that's


how we unlock the potential in these fields. Tom's wheat fields are


golden now, but to get here it's been a constant battle with the


elements. He'd ploughed his fields in January to plant the remaining


wheat, but by April things still weren't looking good. So we're


wondering what's happening in this field which has been planted for


five weeks and I think it's all down to the soil temperature. We'd


normally expect there to be 2-3 inches of growth by now. Here we can


see that it's below two degrees which is seven degrees lower than we


would normal expect at this time of year and explains why things have


been very, very slow to grow. If you plant into cold soils, it means that


things are going to be very slow to germinate and very slow to take off.


Once we start digging you can just begin to see the shoots which have


come up from the seeds and are just about to break the surface. Now when


it does warm up, hopefully it will grow very quickly and within a few


weeks it should be a lovely lush green field After an exceptionally


chilly start to the spring, green shoots of hope finally started to


appear, but they were much later than usual. And now the next threat


emerged. The shoots now are vulnerable to pest attack, I mean


rabbits, hares, geese. They can all come in and graze the crop off. But


because the soils now warmed up, they're beginning to grow really


quickly and actually they'll rapidly grow from underneath it. Probably


the biggest threat to this crop conditions turning dry. Because


there's no root structure then it's really susceptible to having a


problem with dry conditions in May and June. So Tom was pinning his


hopes on a wet spell during the summer.


Right now, Tom's harvest is in full swing, and it won't be long before


he finally learns how his crop has done. But there's no time to take


stock. He might be in the middle of harvesting his wheat, but the


weather also provides a golden opportunity to start sowing his oil


seed rape for next year's harvest. While the sun shines, and his fields


are dry, he can plant it straight into the wheat stubble without the


need to plough. These little beauties here, these are rape seeds,


aren't they? That's what rape crop grows up from. The yellow flowers in


the spring, all come from that. Forgive me but are they supposed to


be bright purple? No, when we harvest them they're black but


that's just a treatment to stop the insects and stuff eating the crop so


we don't have to spray anything on it. Forgive me, Tom, but you haven't


even finished harvesting the wheat yet and you're thinking about


even finished harvesting the wheat another harvest for next year.


even finished harvesting the wheat mean, it's all about logistics and


the more we can get done at this time of year the better the


prospects are for next year. Is that right? And that is your dad working


on there is that right? It is, yeah. Did you flip a coin as to who was


going to drive the tractor and who was going to talk to me? Nah, he


prefers to be on the tractor and out of the limelight. You probably don't


recognise the seeds, but you definitely would recognise the crop


- it's what turns our fields that bright beautiful yellow. In spring


our countryside is transformed by a sunburst of yellow. Oil seed rape in


bloom. British production of this relative of the cabbage, has doubled


in the past ten years. And it's all because of a rich secret at the


heart of its flowers. If we pull the petals off, we've got that green


pod, and if we cut one open we can see inside what we'll be harvesting


later on in the year. Once we come to harvest, the white seeds will be


black. The pods will be two and a half inches long. And there'll


probably be 40 or 50 seeds inside each of the pods. And it's these


precious black seeds we're after. They're packed full of oil and


protein, which is used to make bio-diesel, animal feed, and a


wonderful golden cooking oil. You're planting rape seed right now, which


is a product that I really, really like. How did it perform for you


this year? It was a pretty challenging year for us with the


rape seed. We've only ended up actually harvesting about a third of


what we drilled last year just because of the challenges we've


faced with the really wet autumn, cold winter and spring, and so a lot


of the rape seed actually failed. What we've harvested's been OK but


we pulled a lot up and drilled it with oats and different crops. So


what you got up was all right, but how much did you say you lost? About


2/3rd of the crop. You're kidding me? I mean I know it's early days


now and you've only just planted it out, but when will you see some


life? When will it germinate? Erm? we'll look for that in about a


fortnight's time. This time of year soils are really warm, there's a lot


of moisture there. Great conditions now to be planting rape seed in. So


you are feeling a bit more positive? This is perfect conditions at the


moment, we're really pleased. And rape seed oil is a tricky plant, I


mean, as soon as it's ready it's got to be harvested and you've already


done yours here in Essex. So we went up to Scotland where they harvest


theirs a week or so later. At his farm in the Tweed Valley, Colin


McGregor is preparing to harvest his crop of oil seed rape. I'm the third


generation on this farm. Family came here in 1927, 86 years ago. This is


my 25th harvest. We're used to seeing our fields of oil seed rape


awash with colour. But to get at the seeds within the pods, the plants


have to be dried out. We spray the crop with a dessicant and that kills


the green area on the crop, cos if the crop's green it's very difficult


to harvest. It takes around three weeks for the rapeseed to dry out.


If the rapeseed is too wet, it will clog up the combines. Too dry, and


the seeds will scatter in the fields. So Colin needs to test the


moisture content. When it's dry enough, the reading should be close


to 10%. We've got a reading of 12.7%. So another couple of hours,


get a breeze, bit of sunshine up, combines'll be ready and we'll give


it a go. Yeah, we'll come and get a sample in


a minute. If Adam and Harry are listening let's access it through


the bottlenecks of the pond. With such a short window of opportunity,


Colin must run his harvest like a military operation. And that means


co-ordinating all three combines at once.


There's a thousand acres to get through, but the team can clear over


ten acres an hour. I love the pressure of being busy and when it


all stops in a few weeks' time, then I'm sort of wondering what to do.


And there you are - the finished article, rape seed oil. And I am a


huge fan. From this lovely black stuff, to that. And I tell you why


I'm a massive fan and I know you use it. It's because it's a local


product and it's actually healthier than olive oil, it's got much less


saturated fat AND it fries at a really high temperature. So those


people who like fried food, like me, and the rest of Great Britain, this


is healthier to fry with and it's local and I love it. So I've used it


for cooking, but I've never, I mean local and I love it. So I've used it


this is cold pressed isn't it. This is cold pressed, this is the finest


stuff. You can cook is cold pressed, this is the finest


you can also use this for salad dressings. I've never done anything


like that. Can you see the different colours, look at the different


variation in colours Is that like olive oil when you've got a


variation in colours Is that like taste and a milder taste? No. No,


no, no. But they will taste different but that's just because of


where they're grown, not just because of the colour? That's right.


OK That's absolutely right. See I've never tasted it like this before.


You've always used it for cooking? Yeah. Do you want to start with the


light one? And tell me what you taste. Light, I do taste light.It's


very light. Not much flavour. Doesn't feel oily. Maybe it's a


little floral? Try this one, because they darkness doesn't make it


stronger, it makes it different. That's really nice! Yeah, I get nuts


there. That's completely different again. And a little bits of citrus.


And we know that this is a really important crop for farmers like Tom.


But for Tom at the minute, the wheat is taking all his time and


concentration, because harvesting that wheat is a round the clock


operation. After last year's wash-out, Tom's making the most of


every dry moment - when the sun shines,and when it doesn't.


With the weather being so good right now, they're harvesting night and


day, but what will the wheat quality be like? That worry's been keeping


Tom awake since the start of summer. This year's run of good weather is


making harvesting easier for Tom, but the quality of what he's


bringing in was shaped several months ago.


Back in early June, Tom's wheat was still green. It was a crucial time


for the plants' health. So I paid a visit. So, this is what it's all


about. These are the wheat seeds forming, growing, and these are what


Tom is hoping to harvest in about two months time. But in order for


this plant to plump out these seeds, it needs to be healthy. And Tom


needs 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of them.


Eric Ober has been working with cereal crops for 27 years. He's


something of a wheat doctor. First up, the Beam Fractionator and its


sci-fi companion. This is the other half of it. The Lightsabre, yes! So


what do I do with this then, Jedi Master? If you put that on the soil


underneath the canopy and that will be measuring how much light is


managing to get through the canopy. So what's the result? 95% of the


light is being intercepted, so that's good.


Two months before Harvest, Tom was relieved his wheat was soaking up so


much sun. But what exactly does a plant do with sunlight? Stefan Gates


has been exploring. In order to grow, all plants have to pull off


the same incredible trick: they transfer sunlight, water and Carbon


Dioxide gas into solid matter. This amazing growth process, known as


Photosynthesis, is powered by the energy in sunlight. During


photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide, but they release oxygen,


the oxygen we all rely on to breathe.


Normally it's invisible. However, there is a way in which we can see


photosynthesis actually happening. All it takes is a lamp and some


aquatic plants. If you look underwater,


photosynthesis is happening right now. Light enters the green


chlorophyll in plant cells where it reacts with carbon dioxide and


water, to make sugar. The waste product is oxygen which is being


released as these tiny bubbles. If I move the light further away, the


bubbles slow down. Move it closer, the bubbles speed up.


Using photosynthesis, crops convert the sun's energy into energy stored


in their grains, and that's the food energy we harvest.


So farmers say they're 'harvesting sunlight'. But be careful what you


wish for - too much sun and not enough rain and crops won't have


sufficient water for good growth. enough rain and crops won't have


It's all in the balance. So back in June, was Tom's wheat


getting a healthy balance of sun and water? A thermal imaging camera


showed hotspots in the crop. There's a lot of crop that's blue,


that that means the canopy is cool and there's plenty of moisture


moving through the crop. But there's also spots in the field that are a


lot warmer. And that suggests that the roots aren't able to get enough


moisture. Red signalled danger for Tom's harvest. His wheat could be


too dry for the grains to fill out. The plants needed water. If the dry


summer continued, they'd be at the mercy of how much moisture was left


in the soil. So now you've dug it up, what can you see? You just get


so much chance to see what's happening with the roots, and that's


what we're really worried about, it's trying to see what's happening


inside here. We can see that we've probably got ten inches of soil, 12


inches of soil, and the roots are growing through the bottom of it.


They've been able to access the moisture and the nutrients. But it


was still two months to harvest, and a crucial time when the wheat grains


had to fill out. We need plenty of sunshine through June and July but


we're also going to need moisture. We can see that there's not a lot of


moisture left in this soil. And we want to keep everyone happy, so sun


during the day, rainfall at night, and it could be a bumper harvest.


After an awful start to the year, Tom was finally optimistic his crop


might come good. All he needed was a typical British summer, with plenty


of rain. But a few weeks later, in mid July, we were basking in the


longest heatwave this century. Was it too much sun, too early in the


season, for our wheat farmers? Tom was anxious for rain. Yesterday we


went over 30 degrees, it was the hottest day of the year. We've had


plenty of sunshine but we haven't had enough moisture and the crops in


the field are now really beginning to struggle. It's just too hot for


the plant. The plant on the left was taken from some really good soil


that can store moisture. This one on the right was taken from the gravel


soils where it's not able to store the same amount of moisture. And you


can see the colour difference, with these being a sort of light green,


strawy colour compared to the dark green colour on this side. So these


ones which are visibly still green have still got lots of moisture


inside them, and as we squeeze them you should be able to see lots of


moisture and they're sort of only at a milky ripe stage. This is from the


area of the field which is dying down, where the lack of moisture and


the extreme heat from the sun is causing it to die early. And you can


just see as we squeeze it, generally there's a lot less moisture. We


refer to this one as dying off because it's prematurely ripening,


whereas this one is still thriving and still able to photosynthesise


through the green leaves. So we're seeing the yields curtailed by this


through the green leaves. So we're real heat and dry weather, and it's


all down to not having enough rainfall. So it's going to be having


all down to not having enough a major, major impact nationwide.


Now with the combines rolling, Tom's starting to see the results of all


his hard work. But there is one wheat crop that remains uncut. He's


hoping this special field will produce premium quality grain that


will all go to make bread. If it doesn't make the grade, it will only


be good for animal feed. You had another very late night, working


well into the night with those combines. That's what we thrive on


at this time of the year! Absolutely. And we still don't know


how good that harvest is yet. But this is your special field isn't it?


This is one of the ones that we this is your special field isn't it?


think is one of the best fields on this is your special field isn't it?


the farm this year. this is your special field isn't it?


high hopes for it and today we're going to find out how good it is.


Why is this field so special? This is the one that we've been treating


especially all year. It's looked a great field of wheat, we're really


hopeful it's going to me one of the highest yielding bits of wheat. So


we're now going to find out, does it make milling quality, what's the


yield and just how successful it's been. Is this your bread field? This


is the bread field, exactly that. So we're hoping to be making some bread


is the bread field, exactly that. So out of this later. But how do you


know that it's ready to harvest? The first thing we have to do is we have


to make sure the moisture content is where we need it for harvesting. We


to make sure the moisture content is need it to be below 15% and what


we've got here, we just need to be able to run some grains out so that


we can mill them down. And then just put it into the moisture meter which


is just like a coffee grinder. It's only now, after nearly a year of


worry, that Tom will finally discover the quality of his crop.


What impact has the heat wave had on his special field? So, Tom, that


lack of rain, that lack of moisture, what's that going to do to the crop?


We're almost about to harvest. It just means the ears, the grains


aren't going to be as big as they could have been and I'm sure we've


lost some yield from not having could have been and I'm sure we've


enough moisture. OK, well, we're about to find out. Well if you're


going to harvest you're going to need one of these! Look at that


beastie. It is a mega machine. The scale of it's amazing. I'm scared to


ask. What's the cost for one of these babies? You're looking at


around a quarter of a million pound investment. It's huge. It is. But


you have to think, in the field we're about to harvest there's


probably over £50,000 worth of produce that we're harvesting. So


they bring in a massive value in a day as well. So big investment but


hopefully a lot to harvest. But then what's interesting is that you're


replacing hundreds of workers. I mean in the olden days the whole


community used to get involved, didn't they? The whole village was


involved with harvest and that's where the harvest festival came


from. So we went to meet a good friend of Tom's actually, Guy Smith,


who does hanker after those good old days a bit. Farming was once a


labour intensive business but in the last hundred years around one


million jobs have been lost. last hundred years around one


there's a farmer who wants to celebrate the effort of those lost


workers. In August we visited Guy Smith who offered to help us re-live


the people powered harvest of the past. So this was the workforce that


your dad had on the farm? How many people were there and how does that


compare to your workforce now? Well, when Dad took over the farm in 53,


the year he got married, he had 60 blokes and 40 horses and today I've


got two blokes and three tractors. That's a big change. In one


generation? Yeah. I've seen a lot of changes in my time and he saw a lot


of changes in his time. In those days they weren't doing all the


harvest by hand but you can see they've got the pitch forks and


that's what they were shifting the bales and the straw with. You


actually personally feel a real link into the past, don't you? I do. When


I see my dad there with all his blokes, yeah. You all right?When


you're a farmer's son of a farmer's son of a farmer's son you recognise


that in farming there's a sort of thread of continuity in your life


that goes back through many years. The landscape, the crops you grow.


You know you should be proud of where you come from, be proud of


your roots. Be aware of the past, be aware of tradition. To celebrate


your roots. Be aware of the past, be this long farming tradition, Guy


wants to experience the harvest of yesteryear. He's put together an old


wants to experience the harvest of style reaping gang. Champion scyther


Simon Damant knows how it was done. Use the point to get it up so you're


getting bigger handfuls. Like that? No, like this.


A reaper could do 12 of these in a day. A day would be ten hours. While


they begin their toil, on the other side of the field, I'm keen to see


how these teams were made redundant by the combines. Not surprisingly


how these teams were made redundant I'm going to need a safety lesson


before I get to drive it. I'm under the strict supervision of Nigel


Honeyman. Everything will come to life. Including the telly?Including


both tellies. We have one telly looking behind us and one telling us


everything we need to know about what's happening with the combine.


Most of our controls are on this orange handle here. So this deals


with motion, it deals with moving the cutter bar up and down. So how


is it cutting so fast? We have 25 the cutter bar up and down. So how


foot knife sections along the front. That's cutting at approximately 1300


cuts per minute. The hardest bit about this is having to stay bent


double. Apart from that? Not hard work, he says. He's been doing it


for about 15 seconds! So what's the average speed of a


good farmer? Well we've done a quarter of a football field already.


We've already done a quarter of a football field? While Gregg and Guy


are getting blisters hand reaping, I haven't even got my hands on the


wheel. We're being steered from space. GPS satellites know exactly


where we are. At full power we can cut a tonne of


wheat a minute. But the real beauty of a combine is that it combines the


job of cutting with threshing. The chaff spews out and the grain is


collected behind the cab. When do I chaff spews out and the grain is


need to slow down then? You got to double tap the yard button as soon


as the last of the standing wheat is done. Tell me when, tell me when,


tell me when. Now! That's it, you can stop now. Ah yes, look at that,


and even better look at this. This is what we've just harvested in a


couple of minutes. You'd have to really go some to do that by hand.


For the lads it's painfully slow progress. But they do have some


stalks for threshing. Time to bring in reinforcements.


Back in the day women and children were a vital part of the wheat


harvest Once you've cut it you've got to separate the ear from the


stem. That's what these guys are attempting to do. After it's been


threshed, the wheat still needs winnowing before the grain is ready.


And winnowing is literally separating the wheat from the chaff,


so what we're doing is trying to get the husks off the grain. If I do a


bit of this you can see that the wind takes the husk and I'm just


left with the grains from the middle. It's all in the angle of the


tipping. There's enough to make a small bap. How much toast have we


got in here do you think? I'd say two pieces. I'd reckon you're lucky


to have crust. 30 of us have been harvesting for two hours. Do we have


to have crust. 30 of us have been enough wheat to feed ourselves? So


come on, what have we got? And we have just under ten kilos. So how


many loaves of bread would that make? Well, you take one kilo of


wheat to make one loaf of bread, so we've got just enough to make ten


loaves of bread. Guy and his team have learnt the hard way the effort


involved in the harvest of old. Back here on Tom's farm, I'm with combine


operator Olly bringing in the wheat that we hope will make the grade for


bread flour. Gregg's over there in the tractor, ready to collect our


first load of grain. Now if you let go of the steering wheel. Now? What


now? And then if I double click that button. That's it, that's going in


now. Then press your RES button and that will lower your header down. I


still can't get used to no steering. At the end of the day, when you


don't have to steer, you can really get the performance out of the


machine. So can you make a difference to what's coming in?


Yeah, yeah, on the sample and how clean it is and your losses. What


you're blowing out the back So there's an awful lot more to think


about than just me sitting here and driving it? Oh, definitely.In the


thinner patches you can push on a bit more. Obviously you have to keep


the combine loaded and then when you get to the thicker areas you need to


slow down because obviously you'll be putting a lot more through the


machine. It's not just about being a driver. It's about being an


operator. That is a nice sight to see, all that grain pouring in.


Yeah, it definitely is a good feeling. That's great. And what have


we got in terms of how we know how much our yield is, what we're


getting out? If you press run number two, you've got your yield there. So


right now we are harvesting? Actually it's going up. 8.3, 8.7


tonnes per hectare. Yeah, that's the average of the field so far. And


what would be a really good yield? It would be nice to be averaging ten


but obviously because of the weather It would be nice to be averaging ten


this year it's not going to be anywhere near like that. OK. And


would you expect it to vary, the yield throughout the field?


would you expect it to vary, the because of the different soil types


and structures over the field. I find this fascinating, you know.


Tom's maps and how you can map out each field and tailor what you're


doing to the crop. To the pinpoint, exactly. Oh, a hare! Look at that!


It's great, isn't it? It's such a treat for us to get a hare. You just


don't see them. Beautiful. Well, it's bumpier than I thought it was


going to be. We're going right across the rough stuff at the


moment. It's just because it was so wet last year. Normally you wouldn't


have those ruts. It's just because it was so wet. Tom, this is


Philippa. We were thinking that we'd unload here. That's exactly what we


thought. Great minds. So let me get this right. You've got to get beside


the combine harvester and he's going to empty some of what he's picked up


into your truck? That is it. We try and keep him going all the time.


When we have both combines and all our carting gang we're looking at


£400 an hour running cost. So if you're half an hour behind on this,


that's £200, simple as that? The plan is that he doesn't stop. That's


it. Now you can let go of them. If you slow down. Tom's coming up


behind us and it's you slow down. Tom's coming up


idea to unload. OK, standing by to unload. Say when. As soon as he's


underneath there. He's in position, so press unload and out it


underneath there. He's in position, spew? Tom, try and drive in a


straight line. This will be embarrassing if I get this wrong,


won't it? Right, we're unloading, here we go. I've pressed it, here it


comes. Look at that! There it is. That's extraordinary. That is


fantastic. That is fantastic. I know you probably take that for granted


fantastic. That is fantastic. I know now but that is wonderful. It takes


it out really fast, doesn't it? That comes out at about 150L per second.


It's got to be deeply satisfying. At the end of all your hard work for


the year, watching that. Yeah, definitely. That's the year complete


now, when that's back in the shed. I get that. It's a good feeling Oh,


he's stopped. Is that enough? Have we emptied him? That was fantastic.


That was fantastic. Will one tractor like this going backwards and


forwards keep that whole harvester going? Will we need two? We have two


harvesters and three tractors and trailers. And sometimes we need a


fourth tractor and trailer. When the machines are working together,


logistics are much easier. When they're working apart, it's really


difficult. Let's get this lot back to the grain store.


You get to play with some very big toys, don't you, mate? You know


what? Boys and their toys and all that sort of thing. Tonker toys.


Well done, Tom, very skillfully done. I'm proud of you, mate. That's


another 18 tonnes safely put in the done. I'm proud of you, mate. That's


grain store. And what I'm most excited about is that we've sent a


little bit to the flour mill so we can make some bread later. Now


that's a good sight, isn't it? Does that give you a real sense of


satisfaction? Suddenly you know it's safe once you've got it in the barn.


This is what we work for, the whole year is spent trying to get this.


Forgive me, a city boy like me, I mean I know I like my food, but I'm


ignorant. I mean you can't just plant it out and leave it, can you?


No. It takes a lot of nurturing through the year. I mean, we plant


seeds in the autumn, but then right the way through from the spring


we're in the field every three or four weeks doing different things to


it. So we're putting treatments on it or fertiliser to make it grow to


try and get the crop to be as good as it can be. What do you put on the


try and get the crop to be as good crops, Tom? Everybody wants to know.


We're putting on just basic plant food - nitrogen, phosphate and


We're putting on just basic plant potassium. Just simple minerals that


they need to grow. But then also sprays to make sure they don't get


any diseases. It's just simple things to keep them healthy. People


any diseases. It's just simple are scared of sprays and stuff,


aren't they? It's a are scared of sprays and stuff,


subject but we can't feed the world organically. So yields would be half


what they are if we weren't using the chemicals and fertilizers that


we're using at the moment. It's not possible for the world to feed


itself on organic wheat? I don't believe it is. However it's grown,


there's always a huge demand for wheat. The poorer quality grains go


for animal feed but wheat. The poorer quality grains go


that his will be sold at a wheat. The poorer quality grains go


to a mill like this and go to make wheat. The poorer quality grains go


bread. Grain analyst Jo Cauvain is here to test Tom's wheat and let him


know whether his special field has made the grade. And do you have to


do this with every batch? Every lorry load that goes into a mill,


every lorry load that has to go onto a ship. And what do you have to do


to it? First I turn it into flour, and then we'll test the thickness of


the actual dough. I'm going to weigh out seven grams.


And here I've got 25ml of distilled water. Then I combine the two. So


this is basically mimicking bread making. I'm shaking it so all the


flour is in suspension in the water. Do you know what sort of score


you're looking for? A score above 300 is great. Anything above 225


means that it would be OK and saleable as milling wheat. The


measurement is in seconds. It's the time it takes that weight to drop


through the flour and water mix. But this test here, no wonder you look


pensive, is the difference between bread wheat or chicken feed.


Absolutely. So the thicker and more gloopy it is, the better quality it


is? Let's have a look what we've got. It's now expanded all the way


up the tube. So the more energy, obviously the longer it takes this


to fall through it. And what speed has it taken? It's taken 362


seconds. That means we're OK! We're OK with that. Well done. I found


that completely nerve wracking. Now, Tom doesn't just grow wheat of


course. He grows barley. Tom's barley's already harvested but we're


going up to Scotland now where they are just gathering theirs in. And


their barley's not just going to be eaten, it's going to be drunk.


Barley may look like wheat, but the low gluten content in its grains


means it's nowhere near as good for making bread. It is much hardier


though, making it well suited to the growing conditions in the north of


Britain. So it's become the staple grain of Scotland's whisky industry.


The distillery at Roseisle near Inverness gets through 40,000 tonnes


every year. At harvest time, 40 of these whopping great trucks arrive


here every day. Each one of them fully laden with barley from local


farms. But whisky distillers are very particular about the barley


they'll use. Only the very finest grains make the grade. All the


barley on these trucks has already been quality tested. This is whisky


grade barley, but how on earth do you make a drink out of grains?


Barley grains are packed full of starch, and through a process known


as malting, the grains are tricked into germinating, and this starch is


broken down into sugars. Add water and yeast and those sugars turn to


alcohol. This clear liquid is whisky in its raw form before it goes off


to be aged. See that? That's the alcohol


distilled from the barley, but that now goes into oak barrels for three


years, sometimes a lot longer, and it's that oak that gives it more


flavour and of course that beautiful colour. Lovely! Before the barley


flavour and of course that beautiful goes for alcohol, someone has to


decide if it's up to scratch. Farmers have to send a sample to the


barley bench, where it comes under the scrutiny of Carol Inch. She has


the power to pass or fail a harvest, so the farmers call her Rejection


Jane. So what are we actually looking for, Carol? We need low


nitrogen in this barley because high nitrogen takes up more space within


the grain and there's less starch that we convert into sugar. What we


need form this barley is low nitrogen because that means we'll


have more starch and more starch means more actual alcohol. Nitrogen


helps plants grow - it's a key component of fertiliser. But barley


farmers need to strike a delicate balance. Too little fertiliser and


the crop won't grow as well, but add too much, and the grains run


the crop won't grow as well, but add risk of being rejected. Nitrogen


within the corns gives you a steely grey colour. So if it's all white,


that's what we want. If it's all grey, that's too much nitrogen.


We've got about 20-30 grains there and only one looks a bit steely. We


can let that go, can't we? Well done, boys, you're in! The barley


that passes the test becomes part of over 25 million bottles of whisky


produced at Roseisle every year. over 25 million bottles of whisky


Whisky is very big business. Keeping the standards up is absolutely


essential. You know what? It all starts with sourcing the very best


barley. With Tom's grain all in, and our


flour back from the millers, I've come to meet Tom's mum. You all


right, Tom's Mum? Very well, thank you. So this is the real test, isn't


it? We're going to make bread from it. See whether it rises and what it


tastes like. This is really quite elastic, nice and cool. But I've got


to say, it does feel slightly elastic, nice and cool. But I've got


It's because it's wholemeal, so it will be a closer texture than a


white loaf. Right, into the tin? Right, pop it in. Now we'll proof it


on the Aga for about 40 minutes, and then it'll be ready to cook. Proof


first, then in the oven. Look at that. Bread straight from the wheat


field. It's been a very frustrating year for Tom, but despite the dismal


autumn, endless winter, and summer heat wave, most of the seeds he


struggled to plant have made it to harvest. And much of his crop,


including the special field, made the grade for milling wheat.


This is nice, isn't it? It's nice to sit down, end of a long day. And it


might be a mechanised harvest, but what's been incredible for us is to


watch how hard you work. It's incredible. But how have you done,


mate? I mean, you know pretty much what your costs are. What about your


returns? Do you know what kind of price you're going to get? Some of


our crops we've already sold and on those ones we've got a really good


idea. We know the yield as soon as the combine's gone through so we've


got a good idea where we're at and unfortunately it's been a really


challenging year. Considering that we had a really wet autumn, followed


by a really cold spell in March and then the really hot weather in June.


by a really cold spell in March and So the culmination of that means


it's not been an exceptional year and we're pretty pleased to be


getting something just below and we're pretty pleased to be


average. Head above water?Yeah, just about. That's a good place to


be. Of course it's not just our Tom just about. That's a good place to


here who's been battling against all sorts of conditions to bring in the


harvest this year. Farmers all over the country have been doing exactly


the same thing. So how have they got on? One of the big national issues


for harvest 2013 was planting. Compared to the average amount,


farmers didn't get enough wheat seed in the ground. Sadly wheat planting


fell short by 20% It was the same for rapeseed. The struggle to plant


in the cold, wet Autumn of 2012 got farmers off to a terrible start.


What does that mean for wheat totals? The average is 15 million


What does that mean for wheat tonnes a year. In 2012 we only grew


13.3 million tonnes of wheat. But harvest 2013 is predicted to be even


worse. A million tonnes less than last year's dismal result. We had


better weather, but our farmers couldn't catch up from a poor


beginning. But there's a glimmer of hope. More of our wheat this year


should be good enough for flour. What about oilseed rape? Early


growth in the wet was devastated by attacks from slugs and pigeons. The


warm summer helped but the crop's expected to be down nearly 10% on


average. Harvest 2013 was bad for oilseed rape. Without wheat and


oilseed rape, farmers desperately tried to make up by planting lots of


barley. In 2012 we grew 5.5 million tonnes. What about barley this year?


We predict a rise by more than a quarter. But on the whole, the


hangover from last year's wash-out has given cereals farmers a big


headache in harvest 2013. That news doesn't paint the brightest of


pictures does it, Tom? The trouble is this year we've known all along


that it wasn't going to be the best year, but around the world we're


having a massive global harvest. The UK is having a small harvest. That


means our prices are down because of the world supply but in the UK we


haven't had that great of a year. But isn't that a double bad whammy?


Exactly that. That is the sum of it. We don't have as much to sell and


it's at a lower price so there's just not the gross income that there


would have been otherwise. So what's going to happen is that we're going


to import a lot more and your price is going to go down? We're going to


be net importers in the UK for the second year running and we haven't


be net importers in the UK for the imported wheat on that scale for


decades. Is that right? We've always been wheat self-sufficient. For


years we have, Gregg, yeah. I never knew that. Here, talking about


self-sufficiencies? Oh, my it's heavy. Is this your bread? I can't


lift it! This is as light as a feather! Bit of good news here, and


can I show you this? This has never happened to me before but this, I


think, is wonderful. That is a beautiful, beautiful loaf of bread.


Don't stick your nose in it! Once you get this, you'll want to stick


your nose in it! And you know where this comes from? This comes from


this land we're sitting on. And that's the first time I've ever had


the chance to eat bread from where it's produced. Is that right? I tell


you what, that's really brought that home to me. That is absolutely


fantastic. Cut it, cut it, cut it. Bit of bread and cheese, Tom? I


think you've earned it. Are you proud, Tom? I'm proud. That's a


lovely loaf. That is good bread though. That is a really light but


earthy and filling loaf. I feel at one with this field now. We take it


for granted. When you're walking around the countryside, you don't


realise what it's used for. You don't link the two together and this


is an opportunity to just really make that link. Tom, thank you very


much for having us here. No, no. It's been really enjoyable. We've


learned so, so much. If you'd like to learn more you can: and there's a


leaflet available which is full of information. And I suspect that


there are some recipes there as well. Not just some recipes there,


some fantastic recipes and ways to find out how to use our British


harvest. And also there's information on there about finding


harvest events near you, maybe as good as this. Well done, son. Cut us


another bit? Next time, a sweet treat. Just what


are the secrets of perfect fruit? And how have our fruit farmers done


this year? Join us tomorrow at nine.


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