20 June 1998

Join Crops in conference

ARABLE growers are feeling the heat in the cauldron of lower prices for combinable crops, of pressure from their markets for greater accountability and traceability, and of a switch in Government impetus away from production towards the consumer and food safety.

And now the cauldron is being swayed by the momentum of looming international trade talks.

This years Crops conferences – sponsored once again by AgrEvo – are being held on 25 November at Chilford Halls, Linton, Cambridge, and on 10 November at the Battleby Centre, near Perth.

We are going abroad to seek out the best and latest advice for growers who may find the UK Government only too ready to consider measures such as pesticide taxes which are already applying additional pressure on Scandinavian growers. Senior Danish adviser Jakob Kjaergaard is ideally placed to tell both audiences how his countrys farmers are facing up to increased agrochemical cost and a sharply reduced range of products at their disposal.

Profitability is never far from the growers mind. So at Cambridge, John Page, of Barclays Bank, will give his view of agriculture in 1999 and beyond, with an explanation of what the introduction of the euro and European Monetary Union will mean both in the short and medium term for farm businesses.

For the muddy boots approach to profitability in farming, the English conference turns this year to Bill Clark, ADAS fungicide specialist, who has his fingers on the pulse of new chemistry and how to use it to greatest possible effect under a variety of differing crop scenarios.

Having grown the grain, most growers will gain from some extra advice on how to handle its sale, even if they choose not to do it themselves. Dalgetys Gary Hutchings will outline options which are now available for marketing grain and for hedging in a volatile market.

Once again both English and Scottish Crops Conferences will close with a farmer-speaker chosen to represent the type of grower who is not just going to survive under Agenda 2000 but create the businesses which will thrive and expand under trading conditions where the most efficient and quality conscious are rewarded. Crops diarist and Humberside farm manager John Fenton has been producing wheat at an average input cost of £57/t for the last five years. He will tell the Cambridge audience how he plans to meet all that is thrown at him from Agenda 2000, Washington and by way of environmental legislation.

A change of venue for the English conference on November 25 is designed to make it easier for growers to get there and provide a more intimate atmosphere where ideas can flow freely either way between speakers and the floor. Chilford Halls will already be known to many conference-goers in the eastern region.

The Scottish Crops Conference stays at the Battleby Centre on the outskirts of Perth. This programme will be tailored for Scottish growers with speakers on malting barley and on potatoes. John Calder, of the Scottish Export Company, is recently returned from China and is uniquely placed to provide an insight into the export potential for Scottish malting barley.

New fungicide chemistry is being embraced in Scotland as in England but the behaviour of crops under Scottish conditions may differ. Huw Phillips of Scottish Agronomy has several years of experience under his belt at handling the strobilurins and other new molecules at different rates and timings. He will describe how these and other precision farming tools can readily be adopted more widely than many growers seem to realise.

&#8226 Full conference programmes and ticket application forms will be published in Crops. Early registration enquiries can be made on 0181 770 7698.