Farmer Focus: Cereals and Groundswell – equally fascinating

Like many I have had the great pleasure of attending the recent Cereals and Groundswell events, there is always something to learn and often it’s just something you bump into accidently.

Six years ago both were quite different, but this year I saw robots, companion crops, low input varieties, financial analysis and drills at both, which I think is absolutely fine.

See also: What to consider when increasing soil carbon stocks

About the author

Andy Barr
Andy Barr farms 700ha in a family partnership in Kent. Combinable crops amount to about 400ha and include milling wheat and malting barley in an increasingly varied rotation. He also grazes 800 Romney ewes and 40 Sussex cattle and the farm uses conservation agriculture methods.
Read more articles by Andy Barr

Regenerative approaches are being embraced much more widely so are not surprisingly appearing at Cereals and personally I’m not worried about companies at Groundswell that want to make money – like it or not that’s the way the world goes around at present.

But they do also have their own feel and individuality.

I found it really useful to talk about renewable energy, self storage, cryptocurrency, grain walling and sprayer technology at Cereals, all things I can’t do at Groundswell.

But at Groundswell it was equally fascinating to listen to presentations on renewable nitrogen fertiliser, carbon sequestering ground rock, compost production and intercropping plus many other expert speakers from around the world.

Long may they both prosper, although personally I do like them at a size that means I can drive in and out without getting stuck in long queues!

The biggest thing that came out of them for me was a talk from a company that also appeared via another communication channel that splits farming opinion – Countryfile.

A technology that can produce nitrogen fertiliser that is effectively from waste and not using masses of fossil fuels could really bring us closer to a sustainable food production system that we have been searching for for 50 years, but are still nowhere near.

And by sustainable I mean not only doesn’t use up non-renewable resources, but can also produce enough nutrition to satisfy the huge world population we have.

I just hope red tape doesn’t hold it back and that it ends up being priced appropriately so that it becomes widely used.

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