15 August 1997


INVESTMENT plans for machinery have never been more crucial or difficult than at this time. Cost control is likely to have a significant effect on potential profitability in arable farming. So Barclays is pleased to be providing major sponsorship to support Culti-vations 97.

Technical improvement in equipment continues and this enables husbandry systems to be streamlined without losing the ability to establish crops well. The last 12 months have shown all too clearly the need to produce good seed-beds to achieve optimum plant populations, often in far from ideal weather conditions.

Economics are again coming to the fore, following a period when profitability was relatively easy to achieve. The challenge now facing most arable farmers is to contain costs and seek further reductions where possible. Allowing machinery systems to become old, inefficient and unreliable, will not be the most cost-effective way forward in most situations. Farmers have succeeded in the past by keeping in close touch with innovations and new technology.

Cultivations 97 will provide a chance to examine, at close quarters, new and improved equipment. The quality of work achieved relative to the costs involved should be the basis for planning future machinery policies – particularly in a period when arable farmings belt has to be tightened.

We dont know how crop prices are going to vary in the near future. Only 12 months ago cereal prices were well in excess of £100/t. Today we continue to be amazed by how far prices have fallen. There is a sense of disbelief that such prices are real. Other combinable crops and potatoes have shown similar volatility. Planning and budgeting becomes something of a nightmare. But farming is a long-term business and making the right decisions today will help to produce tomorrows results.

Cultivations 97 will allow practical issues to come to the fore. Modern machinery systems are high output, but also need spreading over enough acres and tonnes of production. We must know what it costs to produce a tonne of arable production and not merely the gross margin an acre.

Precision farming is a term now used widely to describe more precise husbandry actions. Perhaps precision costing also needs applying to business recording and evaluation. Profitability will be under pressure as never before. I am sure that the best farmers will be those than can adapt and control their businesses, in ways that achieve the most cost- approach.

Barclays team of agricultural banking managers is better equipped than ever to discuss future investment plans. Barclays Mercantile Highland Finance is also market leader in financing machinery. Between us we can provide focused financial support where required.

We look forward to meeting you at Cultivations 97.

Richard Waters.

Regional agricultural manager,

Barclays Bank Plc

Richard Waters.Regional agricultural manager,

Barclays Bank plc


Date: Tue, Sept 9.

Time: 10am-3.30pm.

Venue: Shuttleworth Farm, nr Biggleswade, Beds.

Admission: £5 non-members, £2.50 students, free to EEAS members on production of membership card. Car parking, catering and toilets provided.

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