Russia/Ukraine III

It’s all about vertical integration here, for the big businesses at least. These guys do it all, starting with growing the crops, raising cattle, and processing it through to steaks and burgers. The slaughtering and processing happens in one building, and is quite the sight. We couldn’t take photos of the gory bits – they were a little stomach turning. The technology is impressive however, like this automated meat grading camera:


At the moment the feedlot can hold 20,000 cattle, this is going to get bigger.


A rare crop of lupins


And a nice (and moist) piece of the black earth. Most of the crops look pretty decent.


A large portion of Russians still grow a lot of their own food on small holding like this, where we found tomatoes,


spring onions,








and rabbits [not for cuddling].


A risky crop of spring oilseed rape in such a dry climate.


The first combine, near Odesa


cutting a very thin looking sample of winter barley.


Quite a bit of sugar beet is grown in the region, and most looks in good condition.


What goes clip-clop, clip-clop, BANG BANG, clip-clop, clip-clop? An Amish drive-by


Chronic Irrigation

We started off the day looking at a field of wheat being sprayed with a fungicide. This seemed like a waste of time to me, as it was bone dry, hadn’t rained for two months, and the crop would be dead in a bout a week. Still, they wanted to do everything. When it came time to fill up again, very sweetly, the booms were given a nice rest by lying them on the floor.


Here are a couple of crops I Wasn’t expecting to see, linseed and peas. Both very much cool season plants, in a hot season climate.

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I think we have an easy farm, this place is another planet. Here’s a rectangular 600ha field of wheat.


These zero-tilled sunflowers looked really good, considering the lack of rain. No problems with compaction that we could see – nice straight roots.


Onto the biggest irrigation project in Russia. They have around 100 pivots, some of which are 480m long covering 129ha of crops each.


This pump house can move 3 tonnes of water every second:


Back in Stravropol there was a first- a black burger which came complete with black latex gloves for eating it with:


And finally another arty farty photo:


From Russia with photos

It’s time to crack out the travel blogging again, but at this point I can’t be bothered to write much, so there will only be a few pictures to look at.

This involved getting up at 4.45am, battling with cancelled trains on the way to Gatwick, spending 4 hours in Riga, a night in Moscow – but 24 hours later we arrived:

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The first field we stopped in was very black, very dry, and very sparse. Not a good advert for Russian wheat:

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It did have one thing going for it however. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had leguminous weeds like these peas, clover and vetch?

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The next field was even worse. Heavily over-cultivated, there was terrible soil erosion on what was only a very slight slope. The sunflowers looked very sorry for themselves, although amazingly this isn’t considered a write-off.

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This photo was only a kilometre or so away, but the farming is clearly a lot better. This should yield perhaps 3-4t/ha.


Confirmation, as if it were needed, that we don’t work machinery hard enough in the UK. Some of these tractors have done over 20,000 hours, and they work 24 hours a day in 12 hour shifts on a 9,000ha “smallholding”.┬áThis is one way fixed costs are kept so much lower than we can manage.


The landscape is really unusual (for me anyway), and beautiful:


And to finish, an arty farty photo of a grainstore roof: