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20 June 2012 03:55:15 |News,Shows and Events

Cereals 2012: Wealth of advice proves a strong draw

Strong attendance figures at Cereals 2012 have underlined the event’s importance in
keeping the arable sector abreast of the latest developments and advice.
A total of 25,800 farmers, agronomists and other industry professionals passed through
the gates at Boothby Graffoe, Lincolnshire, on 13th and 14th June.
It was an excellent result given the inclement weather leading up to Cereals followed by
dry and sometimes sunny conditions during the event itself, which may have kept some
visitors away with work on the farm, said event director Jon Day of Haymarket
Attendance was about 4% down on last year’s record but well ahead of 2010. Describing
the figures as very healthy, Mr Day added: “Professional farmers and key decision
makers are as hungry as ever for knowledge, and 493 exhibitors, the largest number
ever at Cereals, provided a wealth of information to help them take their business
“We were also delighted to welcome back agriculture minister Jim Paice, whose
presence reflects farming’s renewed importance on the political agenda.”
Despite buoyant commodity prices, much advice was aimed at containing climbing costs
and protecting against the impact of uncertainty over the euro, the latter point being
aired during an HSBC forum with Mr Paice on Wednesday morning.
Increasing problems in the eurozone would affect discussions on the size of the EU and
CAP budget, Mr Paice said. “Many member states are feeling the squeeze and the UK is
not alone in saying that should be replicated in the EU budget.” The UK’s stance was to
reduce the budget over its seven-year lifetime rather than overnight, he added.
The government had made no plans for a collapse of the euro, he said. “We don’t
believe as an entity it will fail.” Given the importance of the EU for UK exports,
colleagues were “as heavily engaged” as others in Europe to find a way forward.
On a brighter note the UK government was maintaining pressure on the European
Commission’s controversial greening proposals. Mr Paice believed progress was being
made on Entry Level Stewardship being accepted as a greening measure.
Allan Wilkinson, head of agriculture at HSBC, principal sponsor of Cereals 2012, urged
farmers to reassess budget forecasts.
Returns could be hit by nearly a third on an average combinable crops farm. The recent
reduction in the sterling/euro exchange rate to 80p could reduce single farm payment
receipts by 8% while upward pressure on machinery, fertiliser and rent could increase
costs by 15%. On the plus side markets were moving in farmers’ favour.
Those attending Cereals would have helped prepare the way, he added. “The event has
gained a well-deserved reputation for offering the technical and business information
forward-thinking farmers need to hone their business. We are proud of our association
with it and look forward to Cereals 2013.”
A line-up of some of the most influential and knowledgeable individuals in the sector
ensured crowds packed the four sessions held at the Arable Conference at Cereals, in
partnership with the Oxford Farming Conference. Topics included food versus
environment, raising crop output, new entrants to farming and CAP reform.
Mike Gooding, chairman of the 2013 Oxford Farming Conference, was delighted that so
many people attended, adding that it reflected the mood of optimism as well as the
challenges that lay ahead.
Key messages were the need to push ahead with plans without waiting for CAP reform
and for a more holistic approach to farming, he said. “Overall we are in time of change,
and with change comes opportunity. It was encouraging to hear DEFRA say it was
important that the trajectory of change does not hinder competitiveness.”
Hundreds of combinable and root crop varieties took centre stage at the event. Further
crop plots demonstrated the latest technology and agronomy advice from weed control
to the SDHI fungicides, which proved their worth on the Velcourt stand in the first really
testing disease year since being commercially introduced.
New R&D initiatives were announced, with HGCA revealing a £2.6m investment in a
four-year R&D programme to help UK soils meet increasing demand for arable
production, including work on soil variability, organic matter and cultivations.
Agrii unveiled a multi-million-pound expansion in applied agronomic research,
development and technical support, creating new R&D centres and many additional plot
and field demonstrations.
New marketing partnerships were also outlined. LEAF struck a deal with ADM to
increase use of LEAF-Marque oilseed rape, RAGT announced a buyback contact with
ADM Milling for its group 3 variety Torch for 2013 and Senova said Allied Mills would
pay a £10/t premium over Group 1 rates for spring wheat Mulika.
Nuffield Faming Scholarships used Cereals as a springboard for a new arable award,
sponsored by HGCA and open to candidates in the arable sector and related industries.
The next generation of farmers and employees in related industries was also well
represented. The new Careers and Education Initiative at Cereals 2012, supported by
many exhibitors, proved a popular draw. The standard of new entrants was also
highlighted in the Velcourt/Hutchinsons Young Cereals Challenge, which saw the team
from Harper Adams collect the £1500 prize for producing the best plot of winter wheat.
New machinery, including a host of cultivation equipment and drills, was in abundance.
Other key developments included a global launch for New Holland’s BigBaler 1290,
designed to boost throughput by 20%. McCormick showed its new six-cylinder X70
tractors – five models spanning 150-232hp, while Kubota unveiled its new M110GX and
range-topping M135GX machines. John Deere revealed its new 6R Series small and
medium sized tractors, rated from 105 to 150hp.
Massey Ferguson showed two new combines, the five straw-walker Activa 7345 S and
276hp six straw-walker 7347 S.
More than 50 of the latest sprayers were demonstrated in the Syngenta Sprays and
Sprayers arena, including Horsch’s self-propelled PT 270, Berthoud’s new Raptor ‘Front
Cab’ sprayers fitted with a hydraulically elevated cab and Tecnoma’s FC laser sprayer
with 3200 to 5200-litre tanks.
Cereals 2013 will take place at Boothby Graffoe, Lincolnshire on 12th and 13th June.

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