What we want from Cereals
With Cereals 2002 under a week away, our
barometer farmers highlight what they hope to
glean from the event. Andrew Blake reports
The priority for Simon Porter and nephew Giles will be to find out how best to switch to a wider boom system for spraying and liquid fertilising.
Their current width is 24m. "It may have to involve a new machine," says Simon.
Cropping software allowing field records to be better linked to gross margins also needs investigating. "We have been thinking about getting a tidier system for the two farms. At the moment it is all done long-hand."
Mr Porter also wants to hear more about the NFUs grain contracts and Countryside Stewardship. "We looked at stewardship once and discarded it. But because of modulation we need to look at the subject again."
Chris Salisbury has no set plan for his visit. "I always learn something, but tend not to go for anything in particular until I get there.
"I usually turn up and wander with the FW guide, but I shall be interested to see the plots with the new generation strob fungicides and how they are doing."
He also hopes to talk to industry representatives about the implications of several south-western compounding mills closing.
"The variety plots are always interesting and so is the shiny machinery you know you cannot afford."
Although his novel winter tares appear particularly promising beside this years spring peas, Peter Wombwells main mission is to seek new cereal breaks. "We are all looking for another break crop besides oilseed rape.
"I always enjoy Cereals, but there will have to be some spectacular wheat advances for me to put my hand in my pocket for any new seed.
"As far as machinery is concerned it will be a long time before we get the smell of new paint on this farm."
Number one task for William Hemus is to discuss marketing. "I suspect the best way to protect ourselves is to continue to sell little and often and so take the average – effectively self-pooling."
More information on growing continuous wheat, up to 40% of his crop, is another target. "There is not much advice about, for example, whether we can grow it more like a first than a second wheat, maybe trying new seed treatments. We want to drill earlier to avoid the potato harvest clash."
He also needs advice on where best to try his new Vaderstad Rapid for direct drilling this autumn. "We used it on peas this year and they look very good." His concern is that on the most suitable heavy land seed could be lost down soil cracks.
For Sandy Walker, the Cereals event is "always the wrong side of the country".
That means its messages need careful interpretation, he says. "I always like to see new varieties, but I prefer to rely on results from Harper Adams trials."
In the past, the sugar beet growing section has provided added interest, he says.
His main aim will be to tackle pesticide suppliers over the costs of what he considers superfluous and confusing packaging. "I want to ask why manufacturers are continually coming up with new names and fancy labels for the same products. We do not buy a product because the package looks pretty. We would buy it in a white bag provided we know it works. We need chemicals to be cheaper."
Catherine Thompson is especially looking forward to re-visiting the Ireland Farms site of Cereals 2002. "I worked there for two years just after I graduated from college," she says.
"Variety trials are always interesting though goodness knows why because what can you tell by just looking at a crop? Some of the best wheats, like Brigadier and Slejpner, were always ragged and horrid. But both produced the goods.
"At the end of the day, I am much more interested in results."
She will also be watching out for a replacement for her ageing MF500 drill to increase work rates. But the knock-on effect on other equipment makes her wary of moving beyond a 4m version.
Winter barley enthusiast Robert Ramsay is eager to see the new hybrid barley and six-row newcomer Pict. "I grow Siberia and the hybrid could be the next exciting step. I want to know where it fits in the rotation and how its open-flowering habit may be affected by spraying."
He expects to spend time examining remote crop sensing developments, particularly their ability to deliver information fast enough to be acted upon. "I also hope talk to agronomists about how they use them."
Grain handling tackle and a wider spraying system (up from 18m to 24m) to cope with a possibility of more crops will be under scrutiny. "Last year we put in a de-awner, which made a huge difference in terms of moving sheer grain volume about.
"Now I want to see what else is needed if we have to place greater reliance on niche markets."
* Northern Ireland
Finding time to cross the Irish Sea and visit Cereals is becoming harder than ever, says Robert Craig. "I have just had to take another 12 days out of the schedule for my BASIS course."
Economic pressure makes it difficult to justify taking on extra labour to compensate, he adds.
Examining the machinery lines for new ideas will be his main preoccupation. "We need a two-bale slide for our big baler. I want to look at the designs and maybe build something ourselves."
At crop level, it is not easy to relate techniques appropriate to wide expanses of East Anglia. *
Plan your day
Make the most of your day at Cereals 2002 by visiting the special "Plan Your Day" area. Sited just inside the event entrance it will have a team of helpers who can direct you to the exhibitors best able to meet your needs. From business planning to input choice and environmental awareness to crop marketing they can tell you who has the answers. Dont waste your valuable time – get the facts you need at the outset. Further information is available at www.cerealsevent.org.uk