Is it feasible that agriculture should step back one hundred years to try and regain a little of the romanticism that seems to have embraced harvest time? As part of the BBC’s Harvest program, a series of three programmes set to be broadcast in September, an experiment took place on the Essex farm of Guy Smith to establish just what the difference is between a modern combine harvester and a more traditional way of bringing in the harvest.
Using a state-of-the-art New Holland CR8080 SmartTraxTM combine from local dealer Ernest Doe, presenter Philippa Forrester shows viewers how a modern machine brings together all the separate operations that our ancestors used to undertake to complete harvest and took control to get a feel for the output of a modern harvester. Equipped with New Holland’s GPS guidance system IntellisteerTM, Philippa managed to resist the temptation to grab the steering wheel and take a straight swath out of the field.
To offer a contrast and a glimpse of a bygone age, volunteers learnt the art of hand cutting wheat with hooks and scythes while a veritable army of local schoolchildren was gathered to relearn the lost art of hand threshing. Led by co-presenter Gregg Wallace and equipped with pillow cases, bats, sticks and even tennis rackets, the volunteers proceeded to thresh the cut crop and then using sieves and a further measure of manual labour, were introduced to the art of winnowing – using wind to clean the crop.
Over more than 100 years, the founding companies that have created the modern entity that is New Holland have sought to make life easier and more productive for the farmer. From stationary engines and threshing machines, through to tractors and grape, cane and combine harvesters, New Holland has consistently been at the forefront of innovation, helping farmers to expand the boundaries of agriculture.
The BBC Harvest Programme is intended to give the wider public an in-depth view of harvest time for UK Agriculture. A series of three programmes covering the harvest of fruit, cereals and vegetables is scheduled to be broadcast this week (Sep. 11th, 12th, 13th). Following on from the difficult harvesting and sowing conditions of 2012, the series of programmes will show viewers the culmination of what has proven to be one of the more difficult farming years in recent memory.
Using the CR8080’s GPS system and on-board weighing equipment, Philippa managed to harvest an average of 11kg of wheat a second during her stint behind the wheel.
To find out how the challengers fared with their un-mechanised harvest, tune in to BBC Harvest.
BBC Harvest is on at 8pm on BBC 2 on Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th and at 9pm on Friday 13th. Enjoy the viewing!