Thursday, 11 June 2015

The "one show" that arable farmers attend to keep up-to-date.

The Cereals 2015 show was well attended by farmers who came armed with plenty of questions! 
I spent the day at the rather stupidly named “Cereals 2015” event just south of Lincoln yesterday – it really is time they changed the name to the “Arable event” (or something equally snappy!!) as it covers so much more than just growing cereals!  This 2 day show is the big event in the arable farmer’s calendar and anybody who wants to sell something or get a message across to the farming community attends this show, along with of course, thousands of farmers.

I was wearing my Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) hat yesterday and was very lucky to be given space on the huge Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) stand. For those farmers amongst you reading this who have never heard of this organisation – it is the old “Home Grown Cereals Association” (HGCA) who have changed their name!

AHDB had set up a demonstration area on how to control the ever growing problem of the pernicious Blackgrass weed. Going by the enormous interest farmers showed in this area, I think the penny has finally dropped that we really cannot any longer expect to control this weed by only using a spray out of a can! In fact, with the ever decreasing number of active chemicals that farmers have in their armoury and resistance appearing against many products from a wide range of organisms, agro-chemicals really should only be considered now as a part of a wider, cultural control programme.

Standing for a whole day talking to farmers from across the country, gives you a wonderful insight to what is currently the major issues facing the industry. Along with Blackgrass control, there is also a surging interest in improving soil and water quality. For much of my time working in the agricultural world, we have concentrated on the health of the plant from where it emerges out of the ground to the tip of the highest leaf, with very little thought given to the well-being of plant beneath the surface.

The new Stewardship Scheme reflects this awareness by including many more options to enable farmers to enhance and improve the quality of soil on their farms, which is of course directly linked to water quality. I rarely go on a farm nowadays that does not have grass buffers running alongside watercourses, but there is still much to be done to improve UK soils and further protect water.

There is a lot changing on farms at the moment - new stewardship schemes, greening, cross compliance as well as keeping abreast of farming best practice! I was asked literally hundreds of different questions yesterday which demonstrates to me once again just how important advice is to the hard pressed farmer. The CFE delivers advice on a county by county basis and has in my opinion, never been as relevant or more needed than it is today!

This poster speaks for itself! Anything  below a 97% control of Blackgrass means it is increasing on your farm.

CFE - more relevant than ever!

Boys and their toys! Big machinery always attracts lots of attention!!


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