A group of 39 members from the YFCU recently travelled to Beauvais in France as part of their annual agri study trip which was kindly sponsored by leading farm machinery brand, Massey Ferguson.
YFCU agriculture and rural affairs chair, William Beattie shares his report from the trip.
“The group departed on Sunday morning January 16th from Dublin and flew into Charles de Gaulle airport outside of Paris. The rest of the first day consisted of some tourist time for everyone to enjoy the sights and attractions of Paris including the chance to go up the Eiffel tower and soak up the culture in the capital of France. That evening the group stayed in Beauvais where we had a chance to meet some representatives from Massey Ferguson over dinner before the factory visits the next day.
"Monday started with a tour of the Massey Ferguson Beauvais 1 Factory where the tractors are assembled and the group were fascinated by the size and complexity of the modern factory. The tour consisted of splitting the party into three smaller groups which offered the chance for the YFCU members to ask questions and to see the whole production line of the factory, from machining the parts right through to the finished tractor.
"After an informative and engaging presentation from Massey Fergusons’ Campbell Scott on marketing and the history of the Massey Ferguson brand, we then travelled the short distance to the Beauvais 2 factory. This is the modern facility where all the cabs for the tractors are manufactured. After the factory tours we had dinner that evening with Massey Ferguson’s sales engineering team and had a great evening with our platinum sponsors.
"Tuesday consisted of the farm visit element of our study tour and we started off by visiting Lasalle University Farm. The farm consists mainly of dairy and crop enterprises. The dairy herd is a 60 strong herd of Holstein cows which are milked through a robot and produce 550,000 litres of milk annually. The big difference that we noticed in their cow housing compared to Northern Ireland systems was that they used straw to bed the cubicles which was cleaned out and replaced daily - we agreed straw was definitely cheaper in France than at home! The arable section of the farm consists of 184 ha which grows a range of crops including wheat, rape, barley and beans. 30ha of this land is used for testing different crop rotations and cultivation techniques.
"After lunch we visited a farm in Haucourt which produced beef and apples. The beef is all produced from pure breed Charolais cows which are all bred on farm and fed on a diet consisting of straw, sugar beet, maize meal and barley. We were told that all bulls are sold as calves, except those used for breeding, as they can become too difficult to handle; therefore all heifer calves are kept and finished on farm. We also visited the orchards on the farm which are managed in an organic system and the apples are used for cider or selling as apples at the markets in Paris. After the farm visits we stayed that evening in Paris to be well rested before the flight home the next day.
"On behalf of all the members who travelled on the agri study trip I would like to thank Massey Ferguson who supported this incredibly interesting, informative and productive study tour, as well as all of the farmers who were kind enough to accommodate us on the farm visits.”
Lindsay Haddon from Massey Ferguson commented: “Massey Ferguson have a strong commitment to farmers of the future and that’s why agri trips like this are so important. As a platinum sponsor of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster we were delighted to be able to support such a worthwhile visit and look forward to continuing this valuable partnership in the future.”