Preparing for a strong arable future this summer

Richard Laverick

The weeks are going quickly and it will be Cereals before we know it.  If you make it to the show please come along to the AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds stand and say hello.

In addition to the variety plots and plenty of free AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds literature we will have a major display on Monitor Farms and regional developments including Arable Business Groups and benchmarking.  We will also have a 1940’s combine, partly for fun but also to illustrate some key messages about the relative cost of machinery and major investment decisions.

The coming weeks will see three very important events for local growers.

Firstly, our new Monitor Farm near Leamington Spa has its opening meeting on 20 June. Hosted by Robert Fox, this meeting will give you a chance to find out more about the farm and to help set the direction of the three-year Monitor Farm project.

Robert is the farm manager for a highly diversified business that shares machinery and labour with another arable farm. With 400ha of owned and rented land, Robert has identified key challenges including black-grass control, improving soil quality and introducing controlled traffic farming.

The open day is a unique opportunity for you to get involved with this innovative project, and I really hope you can be involved. Please email me if you would like to come along.

Rob Takes A Break From Drilling

Robert takes a break from drilling earlier in the spring.

Secondly, there is a Varieties Open Day at the trials site at SGS Alkerton near Banbury, Oxfordshire, on 26 June.  AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds and SGS are teaming up to host an open evening which includes wheat and barley varieties from the AHDB Recommended Lists. At the event you will get to see all recommended and candidate varieties of spring barley, winter barley and winter wheat. In addition to the Recommended List trials, visitors can also see crops grown under a management regime to reflect the local conditions. In addition there will be untreated disease monitoring plots which tell an important story about the underlying disease pressure in the area.

The third event will be on 3 July, the opening meeting at our second new AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Monitor Farm, near Hereford, hosted by farm manager Mark Wood.  This meeting will give you a chance to find out more about the farm and to set the direction of the three-year project on-site.

Mark is keen to boost underlying productivity, to crack some of the practical challenges of precision farming and to find ways to mitigate the risk posed by increasingly volatile weather patterns and unpredictable growing seasons.  Mark will be opening up the business for review and challenge, and the open day will be your opportunity to input to the analysis of business performance and to help set the agenda for business development activity over the next three years. Again, please email me if you would like to come along.

Hot food and drinks will be served at all of these events.

Mark Wood In A Field Of Grafton Wheat (small)

Mark with with his field of Grafton wheat

I hope to see you at one or all of these events, and I would encourage you to become involved in the Monitor Farm activity, a unique farmer-led and farmer-driven programme.



Richard Meredith grew up on a family farm in Herefordshire, and is based in Ledbury. He joined AHDB first as a Regional Benchmarking Officer, providing benchmarking support to AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds, Eblex and DairyCo levy payers. Prior to that, Richard worked for five years with a machinery ring co-ordinating contracting and hire services in the agricultural and related sectors. As AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Regional Manager, Richard is passionate about helping to strengthen UK farm businesses, making them more resilient in the long term.