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East Anglia Future 50

Royal Norfolk Show: Exploring farming innovation from bygone heritage to a hi-tech future

The vintage farm machinery display at the 2018 Royal Norfolk Show will demonstrate threshing wheat in the 1930s-1950s. Picture: Graham Kirk

The vintage farm machinery display at the 2018 Royal Norfolk Show will demonstrate threshing wheat in the 1930s-1950s. Picture: Graham Kirk

Graham Kirk

The innovation which is driving Norfolk farming from its historical heritage into its hi-tech future will be on display at this year’s Royal Norfolk Show.

Jamie Lockhart of Honingham Thorpe Farms has attached a movement tracker to one of his sheep -  and the results of this trial will be demonstrated by the UEA at the Royal Norfolk Show's innovation hub. Picture: Chris HillJamie Lockhart of Honingham Thorpe Farms has attached a movement tracker to one of his sheep - and the results of this trial will be demonstrated by the UEA at the Royal Norfolk Show's innovation hub. Picture: Chris Hill

Attractions at the showground on June 27 and 28 will range from working displays of bygone farm machinery, to the latest modern technologies and science on show in the Innovation Hub.

At one end of the spectrum, the vintage demonstrations aim to give authentic illustrations of how the process of threshing wheat changed between the 1930s and 1950s.

Graham Kirk, who organises the displays, said: “This will really be a unique opportunity to see two threshing outfits, one prior to World War Two and the other from after, and into the fifties. This is believed by many to be the first time this has been demonstrated at the show.”

The 1930s threshing machine will be driven by a steam traction engine with the sacks of corn being manually loaded onto a 1930s trolley and the straw being stacked loose from behind the threshing machine. In the late 1940s and early 1950s scene, the threshing machine will be driven by a tractor with the sacks of corn mechanically loaded onto a 1950s trailer. The straw will be tied into convenient bunches by a low-density straw baler.

Meanwhile, the Innovation Hub will explore the latest modern research and emerging technologies aiming to drive farming productivity in the future.

They include:

• Data from a solar-powered GPS tracking device, developed at the UEA and attached to a sheep at Honingham Thorpe, allowing visitors to remotely watch the sheep’s movements and spot abnormal behaviour which could provide an early warning of health issues.

• PBD Biotech, based in Bury St Edmunds, has created a rapid, precise blood test that can radically speed up the diagnosis of bovine TB and Johne’s disease in cattle.

• Aerial imaging from satellites and drones, analysed to alert farmers to variations in crop development, nitrogen deficiency or disease risk.

• The Norwich-based Earlham Institute will show how it is using state-of-the-art computer technologies, image analysis and machine learning to aid plant breeding.

• The Sainsbury Laboratory, also from the Norwich Research Park, is looking at wild relatives of the humble potato to discover new sources of resistance to blight disease.

The hub brings together members of Agri-Tech East and is sponsored by the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO), which will show how it is helping sugar beet growers build upon last season’s record yields, as well as announcing the winner of its Beet Yield Challenge.

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