Strong attendance figures at Cereals 2012 have underlined the event’s importance inkeeping the arable sector abreast of the latest developments and advice.A total of 25,800 farmers, agronomists and other industry professionals passed throughthe gates at Boothby Graffoe, Lincolnshire, on 13th and 14th June.It was an excellent result given the inclement weather leading up to Cereals followed bydry and sometimes sunny conditions during the event itself, which may have kept somevisitors away with work on the farm, said event director Jon Day of HaymarketExhibitions.Attendance was about 4% down on last year’s record but well ahead of 2010. Describingthe figures as very healthy, Mr Day added: “Professional farmers and key decisionmakers are as hungry as ever for knowledge, and 493 exhibitors, the largest numberever at Cereals, provided a wealth of information to help them take their businessforward.“We were also delighted to welcome back agriculture minister Jim Paice, whosepresence reflects farming’s renewed importance on the political agenda.”Despite buoyant commodity prices, much advice was aimed at containing climbing costsand protecting against the impact of uncertainty over the euro, the latter point beingaired during an HSBC forum with Mr Paice on Wednesday morning.Increasing problems in the eurozone would affect discussions on the size of the EU andCAP budget, Mr Paice said. “Many member states are feeling the squeeze and the UK isnot alone in saying that should be replicated in the EU budget.” The UK’s stance was toreduce 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’tbelieve 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 EuropeanCommission’s controversial greening proposals. Mr Paice believed progress was beingmade on Entry Level Stewardship being accepted as a greening measure.Allan Wilkinson, head of agriculture at HSBC, principal sponsor of Cereals 2012, urgedfarmers to reassess budget forecasts.Returns could be hit by nearly a third on an average combinable crops farm. The recentreduction in the sterling/euro exchange rate to 80p could reduce single farm paymentreceipts by 8% while upward pressure on machinery, fertiliser and rent could increasecosts 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 hasgained a well-deserved reputation for offering the technical and business informationforward-thinking farmers need to hone their business. We are proud of our associationwith it and look forward to Cereals 2013.”A line-up of some of the most influential and knowledgeable individuals in the sectorensured crowds packed the four sessions held at the Arable Conference at Cereals, inpartnership with the Oxford Farming Conference. Topics included food versusenvironment, raising crop output, new entrants to farming and CAP reform.Mike Gooding, chairman of the 2013 Oxford Farming Conference, was delighted that somany people attended, adding that it reflected the mood of optimism as well as thechallenges that lay ahead.Key messages were the need to push ahead with plans without waiting for CAP reformand 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 wasimportant that the trajectory of change does not hinder competitiveness.”Hundreds of combinable and root crop varieties took centre stage at the event. Furthercrop plots demonstrated the latest technology and agronomy advice from weed controlto the SDHI fungicides, which proved their worth on the Velcourt stand in the first reallytesting disease year since being commercially introduced.New R&D initiatives were announced, with HGCA revealing a £2.6m investment in afour-year R&D programme to help UK soils meet increasing demand for arableproduction, 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 plotand field demonstrations.New marketing partnerships were also outlined. LEAF struck a deal with ADM toincrease use of LEAF-Marque oilseed rape, RAGT announced a buyback contact withADM Milling for its group 3 variety Torch for 2013 and Senova said Allied Mills wouldpay 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 wellrepresented. The new Careers and Education Initiative at Cereals 2012, supported bymany exhibitors, proved a popular draw. The standard of new entrants was alsohighlighted in the Velcourt/Hutchinsons Young Cereals Challenge, which saw the teamfrom 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 X70tractors – five models spanning 150-232hp, while Kubota unveiled its new M110GX andrange-topping M135GX machines. John Deere revealed its new 6R Series small andmedium sized tractors, rated from 105 to 150hp.Massey Ferguson showed two new combines, the five straw-walker Activa 7345 S and276hp six straw-walker 7347 S.More than 50 of the latest sprayers were demonstrated in the Syngenta Sprays andSprayers arena, including Horsch’s self-propelled PT 270, Berthoud’s new Raptor ‘FrontCab’ sprayers fitted with a hydraulically elevated cab and Tecnoma’s FC laser sprayerwith 3200 to 5200-litre tanks.Cereals 2013 will take place at Boothby Graffoe, Lincolnshire on 12th and 13th June.