14 September 2023
Leading voices to tackle the sector’s most pressing topics.
FRESH from attending British Potato and the National Potato Industry Awards the week before, potato growers might like to check out the seminar programme at CropTec on November 29th and 30th which will be held at the NAEC, Stoneleigh for the first time this year.
‘Breaking down access to new markets to cultivate business resilience’ is the focus of the first session which will be chaired by the NFU’s chief economics advisor Rohit Kaushish on day one and vice president David Exwood on day two. David said changes to government policy and the high costs of production made this topic particularly pertinent. “In a fast-changing world, having more opportunities to provide new and diverse income streams for farms is vital,” he said.
Rohit hopes the session will offer clarity on the emerging support schemes and environmental markets as well as policy developments. “Farmers are looking for new diversified income opportunities to manage market risk and uncertainty and are increasingly being approached by project developers in environmental markets about new potential income streams. There are a lot of questions being asked at the moment on the potential of such markets at farm level. It is therefore a really good time to be exploring these markets in more detail.”
Past AHDB chair and former NFU president Sir Peter Kendall will chair the second session which will delve into issues around crop nutrition. As agriculture strives to achieve its sustainability goals, this roundtable discussion will see experts explore the importance of low carbon crop nutrition, while looking at the future of fertiliser policy in a changing climate. Panellists include Mark Tucker, business development and head of agronomy for session sponsor Yara and independent agronomist David Boulton from Indigro.
“Anyone who has lived through the last 12 months of fertiliser prices will be considering really carefully all available options for plant nutrition in their system. Now is a great time to plan for the future,” said Sir Peter.
Sharing grower experiences and successes is the aim for session three, ‘Connecting bold thinkers in a time of change: Real stories from boots on the ground’, sponsored by Horsch. Chair Andrew Francis from Team Ag hopes the presentations from three innovative farmers will show the diversity of approaches as well as the similarities. “It is always good to challenge yourself in how you go about doing the day job. Whatever the components of your business are, any time is a good time to change,” he said.
Andrew Williams, manager of Home Farms in Nacton will discuss his experience with robotics on the Suffolk farm producing conventional arable crops and organic vegetables. Robotics and other technologies are being developed at pace, so being prepared to make swift investment decisions is essential, he said. “These innovations are going to arrive, come what may, so farming businesses need to get to grips with developments coming down the road.”
Jack Smith, Farm Director for AG Wright & Sons, will explore the importance of data in decision making. “There is a ‘sitting in the office’ answer, which needs to be squared with the ‘standing in a field’ answer,” he said. “It’s about taking insights from both and coming to a sensible informed decision.”
The final session of the day tackles crop protection and changing regulation, with expert input from agronomists and plant breeding. David Schaffer of RAGT will give an overview of breeding research to improve levels and durability of varietal resistance for UK farmers. This will include RAGT’s work on barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) resistant wheat as well as new selection technologies to complement field scoring.
Other speakers include James Bairstow, agronomist and associate director for Strutt & Parker who will share his expertise on Integrated Pest Management and Dave Bench, chief executive of CropLife UK which represents the plant science industry.