Rural Vehicle Emissions Negligible


Friday was a busy day, we sorted a lot of heifers out, moved them about, and had the vet check that those who’d been running with the bull were in calf.

Then on Sunday morning I found two different groups had tested the limits of their current boundaries and found them significantly more permeable than I had previously thought. Certainly, the previous occupants of the fields hadn’t seen any opportunities.

Luckily, we have domesticated cattle. One lot followed me back to their mates. The other lot (fourteen little ones of whom five had escaped) watched me feed those who hadn’t got out (the feed was placed in sight of the escapees but some distance away) and once I’d left the field, they all came back through the gap to join their mates at the feed.

So, Sunday morning was spent fixing fences.

To be fair to dairy heifers, their understanding of the world is limited, and you expect them to cross the boundaries of common sense.

On the other hand, I came across this…

What people in the UK may not realise is that there are teams of contractors who start the American harvest in the south, almost on the Mexican border, and as the year progresses, they move steadily north, combining as they go. After all, the further north, the later the harvest. They finish somewhere in Canada playing chicken with winter.

Now some of these chaps work closely with the major machinery manufacturers. After all they might have several big combines and tractors and they will change them every three years. Not surprisingly, because their machinery works hard. They can be combining, 24 hours a day, for days on end when harvest is ready. So, some of these contractors will effectively have new machinery on standing order. It’s metaphorically got their name on it even as it proceeds along the production line.

One of these chaps was approached by a representative of the company he deals with. The company wanted him to go electric.

His response was simple. “How do I charge these combines when they are many miles from an electrical mains supply, in the middle of a cornfield, in the middle of nowhere?” “How do I run them 24 hours a day for 10 or 12 days straight when the harvest is ready, and the bad weather is coming in?” “How do I get a 50,000+ lb. combine that takes up the width of an entire road back to mains electricity 20 miles away when the battery goes dead?”

Apparently, the answer is ‘we’re working on it’.

I’ve worked with silage contractors in this country where we filled the big self-propelled forage harvester direct from the fuel company’s tanker. We stopped for a full five minutes to achieve this and were back to work.

But back to the machinery company. How can somebody who is supposed to be working with farmers be so ignorant?

Of course, there is a fetish that all vehicles must go electric. Note that I use the term fetish in its traditional meaning:

 “An inanimate object worshipped for its supposed magical powers or because it is considered to be inhabited by a spirit.”

So why ban diesel vehicles?  Well apparently, and to quote the BBC:

 “A number of studies have shown that diesel cars, unlike petrol cars, spew out high levels of what are known as nitrogen oxides and dioxides, together called NOx. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is particularly nasty – recent studies have shown it can cause or exacerbate a number of health conditions, such as inflammation of the lungs, which can trigger asthma and bronchitis, and increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.”

Indeed, “In many European cities, NO2 levels are well above European Union legal limits – twice the limit in parts of London, Paris and Munich, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA).”

I tell you what, we’ll stop using combines and tractors in parts of London, Paris, and Munich. But why are people wanting to stop the use of diesel in combines and tractors in the countryside? I’ve seen the figures for a local town near here, and it is already well below the level we are supposed to be trying to get down to.

So, I would humbly venture to suggest that the NO2 produced by agricultural machinery in rural areas is not a problem.

Indeed, great steps have been made in producing biodiesel from agricultural crops. Farms could produce their own diesel which would contain no fossil fuel and might have a lower carbon footprint than the electricity they want us to change to.

Now it may not seem a big deal but all you’re doing is putting food prices up in an attempt to give prosperous middle-class activists the feeling that they’re achieving something.

They are, they’re increasing the pain felt by the poor.

Not even a dairy heifer is that daft.

Jim Webster farms at the bottom end of South Cumbria. Jim was encouraged to collect together into a book some blog posts he’d written because of their insight into Cumbrian farming and rural life (rain, sheep, quad-bikes and dogs) It’s available here.