28 May 1999

START HERE TO PLAN YOUR DAY

New products, new advice and new information are never in

short supply at the Cereals event. But sometimes it can

be difficult to sort the wood from the trees. Charles Abel

previews a major new initiative designed to help visiting

farmers make the most of their time at Cereals 99

HARVEST 2000 starts here. What you drill this autumn is what you will harvest next summer and market in the new world-market environment of the Agenda 2000 support regime.

Sowing time is fast approaching – decisions need taking soon. Budgets need redrawing, cropping plans finalising and the entire business reviewing to ensure it is Agenda 2000 compliant.

It is a daunting prospect. But failing to deal with it could all too easily spell doom for your arable business. Big market swings are forecast, price volatility is certain and new technology is giving pioneering growers a real edge in production efficiency.

So, this is not a time for the faint-hearted. But help is at hand. Advice to help you deal all those issues and more can be found at Cereals 99. And the new "Plan Your Day" feature aims to point visitors in the right direction to find the information they need.

"Our main aim is to focus the visitors attention on the key issues, answer the first line of questions and then direct them to the stands where their questions can be answered in more detail," explains Ian Aitchison, marketing manager at the HGCA, which is co-ordinating the feature.

The key topics the new feature will address are:

&#8226 Farm strategy

&#8226 Cost management

&#8226 Improving crop production

&#8226 Better marketing

"We will have experts on hand who can give meaningful advice to help growers identify the key issues for their businesses within each of these topics," stresses Mr Aitchison.

Organisation participating in the initiative include the HGCA, ADAS, RASE, IACR, Morley Research Centre, farmers weekly and Lloyds TSB.

"Everybody on the stand will know who else at the event can help and will point visitors in the right direction.

"We will be able to cope with everyone, from the highly technical grower looking for the latest practical innovations to those in urgent need of assistance to keep their businesses afloat."

Key priority

Redefining the strategy for the farm is a key priority that farmers must undertake, notes Ian Stockley of Lloyds TSB. Account must be taken of the changing marketplace and how well a farm can meet its new demands.

Consideration should also be given to the financing of operations and how best they can be carried out – by farm staff or by a contractor.

That overlaps with attention to overheads. Seeking sharing arrangements with neighbours, farming more land or using a contractor more often are all options that need considering to reduce fixed costs.

But the implication for workloads of changing cropping patterns also needs bearing in mind, stresses Julian Hayes of ADAS.

Meanwhile, technical innovation continues apace. At the event Velcourt is hosting the Arable Farming demonstration area which will provide a first viewing of many areas of new HGCA and MAFF funded work.

IACR Rothamsted and Long Ashton new work on fungicide and herbicide resistance testing. And Morley Research Centre will be on hand to explain the practicalities of adopting new technologies in the field.

Whatever the needs of your business and whatever you want to get from Cereals 99, the "Plan Your Day" feature should be your first point of call.