Farmer Focus: A refreshing Monitor Farm conference

So far our accumulative rainfall this year at Lower Hope is 84mm higher than last year, which is quite extraordinary considering the year we have had.

The accumulation came from the very wet spring and all the snow in March. We are definitely in a drier phase overall as our five-year average rainfall is down to 614mm from our long-term average of 728mm.

The dry ground conditions have allowed the final bits of spraying to be competed, with propyzamide and prothioconazole applied to the oilseed rape and fenoxaprop-P-ethyl applied to wheat after spring oats.

See also: How growers can improve soil management decisions

Hedge trimming has also been completed on grassland and the dry conditions have also allowed contractors to complete the excavations of a flood alleviation lake on one of our farms.

I was once again fortunate enough to attend the AHDB Monitor Farm Conference. This year’s topic was resilience – very topical in the year we have experienced with both the weather and policy.

Personal level

Once again the conference was very enjoyable and there were some very clear take-home messages, not necessary based on the technical side to our industry but more on a personal level, which was very refreshing.

Nick Pyke from the Foundation of Arable Researchers (FAR) in New Zealand presented a piece on knowledge exchange to get the most from change and without subsidies.

His tip to us, having seen the transition in New Zealand to farming without subsidies and with our current Brexit situation, was to quote: “not to waste a good crisis”.

Professor David Hughes also presented some very interesting points from a global consumer’s point of view.

He highlighted that we should see changing diets as an opportunity and focus on the areas of the world where populations are going to increase, such as Africa and Asia.

He also alluded to mega-cities being the target for value-added food products rather than countries.

He left us with the point that “farmers are currently fashionable. Let consumers see your pride and passion and make the most of the opportunity you have got.”