Almost 25,000 people attended this year’s sun-drenched Cereals event to catch up with the latest technical advances, machinery innovations and business advice.CAP greening measures, blackgrass and grain prices were key talking points at the event, which took place at Chrishall Grange, near Duxford, Cambridgeshire on the 11th and 12th June. Despite these potentially bearish factors the mood was largely upbeat. Hundreds of crops plots across the showground reflected the potential across most of the country – after a difficult season disease wise, the feeling was that most crops looked to be set fair for harvest.Jon Day, Haymarket’s Cereals event director, said the 500 companies and organisations exhibiting at the event had provided a wealth of information and expert advice for the 24,950 farmers, agronomists and other professionals who attended the show.
“The feedback from visitors and exhibitors alike has been excellent,” said Mr Day. “The arable sector is second to none when it comes to innovation, and there was plenty on show at Cereals, whether that be improvements in cultivating, drilling and harvesting techniques, novel spraying systems, or the latest precision farming developments along with increasingly powerful record keeping systems. “In addition, there was plenty of advice on offer to aid business management. CAP greening was a key focus, but production costs, rents and managing the volatility of grain and inputs markets were also highlighted in detail.”Cereals had also developed into a leading conference venue, giving audiences the chance to hear and discuss a range of topical issues with those in the know, he said. “This was very evident this year in the first Arable Conference at Cereals session, partnered by The Oxford Farming Conference, which saw DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs outlining and discussing the CAP greening measures that DEFRA had released just prior to the event.“The fact he used Cereals as a platform to discuss these measures face to face with farmers and the press shows how important a diary date Cereals has become to all who are involved in the sector, extending its reach to the highest political circles.” Allan Wilkinson, head of agriculture at HSBC Bank, Cereals 2014 principal sponsor, agreed. “Owen Paterson brought considerable explanation and quite a personal touch to the event while he enthusiastically explained the rationale as he saw it for the rules behind the announcement on Ecological Focus Areas for England as announced the day before.“His summing up with the phrase 'Thunderbirds are go!' not only showed his positivity about the way forward given the constraints of CAP 2015 onwards, but also his determination to help. Now the serious work begins for each and every farmer.” Cereals 2014 was a truly professional event, he added. “I was delighted with the professional image generated to allow farmers to be informed, to be inspired and to network in the glorious weather. “The attraction and interest that Cereals now generates is exactly why HSBC Agriculture values its position as Principal Sponsor of one of UK Agriculture's key events in the calendar.”The winners of the inaugural International Machinery Manufacturers’ Awards (IMMA), were revealed on the evening of the opening day of Cereals. These new machinery ‘Oscars’ launched by Cereals organiser Haymarket Exhibitions recognise companies that have produced machines that stand out from the crowd by delivering a mix of innovation, cost-effectiveness and value.The winners were: Cultivation equipment – Cousins of Emneth’s surface seedbed cultivator.; sprayers – Garford’s Robocrop weed-imaging spot sprayer; tractors – John Deere’s Direct Drive transmission; harvest machinery – McHale’s Fusion 3 Plus baler-wrapper.Another successful new feature for Cereals 2014 was the Inspire Pavilion, which was sponsored by McDonald’s, Massey Ferguson and De Lacy Executive. This was very well received by the younger audience – future farmers and industry employees – who were informed of the vast and varied opportunities within the agricultural industry.More familiar Cereals features returned, including hundreds of crops plots to illustrate the wealth of agronomic developments on show. Other specialist areas included machinery, working demonstrations, post-harvest technology, business area, potatoes, renewables, careers and education and the Syngenta Sprays and Sprayers arena, which showcased the latest spraying technology and equipment. Tina Barsby, chief executive of NIAB, said the event was superb as always. “Well done to the Cereals team – we’re always delighted with the visitor numbers on our stand, which we’d increased in size this year to cope with demand.“And it was definitely worthwhile with some great feedback on all our plots, particularly varieties, blackgrass and disease management, and superwheat. Cereals remains a key event on our calendar.”HGCA Chairman Jonathan Tipples said staff had been kept very busy by a strong turnout by visitors to the stand, which included scores of variety plots and a host of innovative crop management projects. "Cereals is the 'must go to' event in the arable calendar, both as a grower and as HGCA Chairman," he said. "I'm also a great believer in moving the event around the country, and this year's site was great both in terms of its location and its accessibility."Cereals 2014 was the UK debut of JCB’s much-anticipated Fastrac 4000 Series. The machine was very well received, as was the stand in general, said marketing manager Richard Foxley. “The show was well organised, the atmosphere was very positive and we saw plenty of professional British farmers and contractors,” he added.Charles Blessley, Case IH Marketing Manager for UK and Ireland, said: “As always, Cereals provided Case IH with a very good opportunity to showcase our products to the right people. We liked the new location and there was a great upbeat atmosphere – which wasn’t entirely down to the excellent weather!”Elsoms director Bob Miles reported keen interest in energy crops on the stand, notably hybrid rye SU Drive. As well as being a good feedstock, there was interest from growers looking to overcome resistant blackgrass as ensiling it for this market prevented seed return. “We also had plenty of interest in catch crops and several new products on show - we had a very good event.”RAGT Seeds reported its busiest Cereals event ever. “We were rushed off our feet the first day,” said marketing manager Sarah Middleton. “Growers were keen to see Skyfall, our new high-yielding breadmaker – many had bought it on its reputation alone and were seeing it for the first time at the event. Cougar’s disease resistance also attracted plenty of attention after the season we’ve had.”