The Clerk in the Country

Thursday 2nd July 2020

“the most approved way”

Although traffic through the village has been lighter during the weeks of lockdown, one type of vehicle is seen as frequently as usual.  Tractors pass by regularly and some nowadays have a small box fastened to the top of the cab.  These GPS tracking devices link the tractor, by means of satellite, to field maps, aerial images and data obtained from soil samples, allowing the operator to apply fertilizers and sprays only where needed, ensuring healthy crops while saving money on waste and protecting the environment from unnecessary additives.  The accuracy can be up to a metre.

This application of the latest technology shows how far arable farming in this area has advanced in two centuries.  Writing in 1808, agricultural commentator William Marshall considered that it “cannot be considered as a district where the cultivation of corn is practised in the most approved way”.  This may have given cause for thought to one of the local landowners at the time: John Baker Holroyd, earl of Sheffield … and for four years President of the Board of Agriculture.