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Harvesting time on the Isle of Sheppey

By John Nurden

How would you like to spend your working day in an air-conditioned office 12-feet high and which drives itself over the Kent countryside?

That's what farmer James Attwood does during harvesting time - and he thinks he has the best job in the world.

"On a hot, sunny summer's day you can't beat it," he said as he clambered into the cab of his £450,000 state-of-the-art Lexion combine harvester.

Harvesting time on the Isle of Sheppey with farmer James Attwood of SW Attwood and Partners and his state-of-the-art £400,000 combine harvester (3297691)
Harvesting time on the Isle of Sheppey with farmer James Attwood of SW Attwood and Partners and his state-of-the-art £400,000 combine harvester (3297691)

He and his team have spent the past three weeks harvesting 2,800 acres of oil seed rape and wheat on Sheppey, at Bredgar and Faversham.

The exceptionally hot weather means the work was started two weeks ahead of schedule.

James, 25, said: "The rain earlier this year, followed by the sunshine, has given us perfect growing conditions. The yield is really good and the quality is first class."

Harvesting time on the Isle of Sheppey with farmer James Attwood of SW Attwood and Partners and his state-of-the-art £400,000 combine harvester (3297688)
Harvesting time on the Isle of Sheppey with farmer James Attwood of SW Attwood and Partners and his state-of-the-art £400,000 combine harvester (3297688)

Farming has been completely transformed thanks to modern technology.

James, who works for SW Attwood and Partners at Eastchurch, said: "I don't even have to drive the combine. It can steer itself using GPS satellites. It also continuously monitors the quality and cleanliness of the crop.

"The job has changed tremendously since my dad Stephen started. He didn't even have a cab on his first combine and certainly no air-conditioning."

Harvesting time on the Isle of Sheppey with farmer James Attwood of SW Attwood and Partners in the cab of his state-of-the-art £400,000 combine harvester (3297695)
Harvesting time on the Isle of Sheppey with farmer James Attwood of SW Attwood and Partners in the cab of his state-of-the-art £400,000 combine harvester (3297695)

James' brand new combine harvester - he bought it this year - boasts a 30-foot wide cutter which makes short work of a field of crops as it glides across the ground at a steady 2.2mph.

A typical day begins at 8.30am but can go into the early hours. Luckily, the cab has strategically positioned cool boxes for supplies of food.

"The other night we were still in the field at 1.30am but on another night we had to finish at 9.30pm when mist rolled in from the sea," explained James.

Harvested wheat on its way back to the silos at SW Attwood on the isle of Sheppey (3297728)
Harvested wheat on its way back to the silos at SW Attwood on the isle of Sheppey (3297728)

All the fields are harvested by a team of just four: two drivers with their combines and two tractor drivers, sometimes boosted to four, working in relay to take the fully loaded trailers to the grain silos for testing and storing.

Most of the farm's wheat is bought by Warburtons to turn into bread.

That's what you call using your loaf.

Harvesting time on the Isle of Sheppey with farmer James Attwood of SW Attwood and Partners and his state-of-the-art £400,000 combine harvester (3297684)
Harvesting time on the Isle of Sheppey with farmer James Attwood of SW Attwood and Partners and his state-of-the-art £400,000 combine harvester (3297684)
Harvesting time on the Isle of Sheppey with farmer James Attwood of SW Attwood and Partners and his state-of-the-art £400,000 combine harvester (3297682)
Harvesting time on the Isle of Sheppey with farmer James Attwood of SW Attwood and Partners and his state-of-the-art £400,000 combine harvester (3297682)

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