Six weeks of anticipation

4 June 2014

When I was thinking about writing this over the last week, I was considering using the same title as I did back in the winter:  Wet wet wet! We have had a few dry days now so I have a new mood of optimism that things may dry out for harvest. That will not take away the challenges left by the recent heavy downpours, however.

While healthy doses of PGRs seem to be keeping the crops up across southern England, they remain full of potential yield-threating disease.  Certainly the inaccuracy of sprayer drivers (and their technology) or lack of robustness in spray programmes is being cruelly exposed.

Kicking off first in June is Cereals 2014. As ever, it’s a great showcase for our world-class industry and an opportunity for growers to glean the very latest information for fine tuning their arable businesses.

Visitors can see the varieties and speak to industry leading experts at AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds, as well as finding out about the regional team’s work.

I will be there with all my colleagues, and our centrepiece will be this very fine piece of vintage machinery:

Massey Harris 21

We’ll be using this Massey Harris 21 combine to scrutinise arable business figures. Was it easier to make this type of investment then or now?  More importantly, was it easier to pay it back then?  Just what are the relative throughputs?

Quickly following on from Cereals, we have our first Monitor Farm Open Meeting with Julian Gold at Hendred Farm near Wantage, starting at 9:30am on 20 June. This is the start of an exciting and challenging three-year programme  at Hendred, and we need local farmers’ input to review and help progress the project here. You’ll get the chance to find out how your own real costs of production compare, too.  OX12 8LG and a sat nav will take your right there.

The following month, we are further west with our first meeting at James Lee’s Devon family farm, a mixed enterprise with different challenges from Hendred. More on that later but to mark your diaries, it is 2pm on 10 July.

In between these events, I am really looking forward to a hectic two days in Germany with the NFU South West Arable Crops Board, thanks to some DEFRA study tour funding. We will be visiting John Deere and BASF for insight into the latest developments. On top of this we are visiting two arable units to see how they are coping with the challenges of European agri-politics and other matters. Finally we join a symposium of some 600 German farmers with their equivalent NFU.



Taunton-based Philip joined AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds from HSBC Agriculture, where he was Senior Agriculture Manager in the South West region. Having studied agriculture at university, Philip spent seven years as a Senior Business Management Consultant with ADAS before developing his career with HSBC. He brings substantial business management experience to the Regional Team, and a detailed understanding of the complexities of the industry in the region.