The U30s have been very active over recent months, enjoying four events that, incredibly, have all been graced with excellent weather, writes Under 30s Chairman Charlotte Harris.
In May we had a very interesting visit to Kent for our Spring Farm Walk, where we learnt about the challenges farmers are currently facing as well as the technology developments that are helping them get a competitive edge (full report below).
June took us to the Cereals Event in Lincolnshire and the Henley Royal Regatta on the Thames. These were fantastic events with a high attendance from both Under 30s and main Club members, providing a great opportunity for Club members across generations to meet. We were incredibly lucky to be treated to a boat trip along the Thames at Henley, and I look forward to welcoming the younger members of the families we met to future Under 30s events. A huge ‘thank you’ to Club members Scott Hayles and Tom Copas for hosting such excellent events (further details below).
In July the summer weather aided our Pimms Summer Dining Evening on the Club Terrace. This was a very popular event where we heard Heath Milne from Anzco Foods talk about how farming in New Zealand responded to the removal of subsidies in 1984, and we felt inspired to use technology to continuously improve our methods of farming to ensure we stay at the top of our game.
After a break for harvest, our next events will be the Autumn Dining evening at the Club on 15th September and the Autumn Farm Walk, from 6-8th October, which will take us to the heights of Edinburgh.
Don’t forget, Under 30s members can keep up to date with the events and latest news via our Facebook page ‘Farmers Club U30s’. Please do join this page if you haven’t already!
Cereals + Henley report
June 14-15 saw Boothby Graffoe in Lincolnshire host the Cereals Event, with high spirits and even higher temperatures, writes Bradley Etchell, Under 30s Committee member.
The show will be a familiar feature in the diary of many members, being the perfect opportunity to interact with friends, colleagues and industry professionals. The Under 30s committee very much welcomed the opportunity to arrange a gathering open to all Club members.
Dow AgroSciences kindly hosted The Farmers Club this year at their impressive stand, which showcased an exciting pipeline of new chemistry. Plentiful refreshment was provided in the form of delicious pizza, cakes and a variety of beverages. There were 35 members in attendance and it was great to see so many familiar faces and some new faces, spanning several generations.
Interesting conversation was enjoyed by all, ranging from current issues facing the industry, like Brexit, diversification and neonicotinoids, to future Club events and agricultural shows. Interaction between the broad spectrum of members gave a great sense of how our industry has evolved and developed over the years. A huge thanks to everyone who attended, everyone involved in the organisation and to Dow AgroSciences for their kind hospitality.
Kent Farm Walk Weekend
The Under 30s visit to Kent took place over a mild May weekend, with a group of members congregating in the cathedral city of Canterbury, writes Under 30s Committee member Alice Whitlow.
Following a hearty breakfast on Saturday morning we set off for Felderland Farm, a 50 hectare fruit farm owned by Farmcare, situated in the village of Worth, Kent. We were warmly welcomed by farm manager Adam Robinson, who gave an overview of farm operations via an engaging walking tour through orchards abundant with varieties of apple, pear and cherry trees. These were beginning to show hints of the harvest that puts Felderland amongst the largest producers in Kent, with the current apple crop at 13,000 bins to give a sense of scale.
A lasting impression on the group was the wide range of challenges facing this industry to ensure profitability, from the meticulous pruning and quality control standards that must be maintained, to the forward planning in planting varieties which will be ‘in vogue’ a few years down the line, thus taking advantage of the tree’s productivity peak.
As ever, diversification was at the forefront, with Adam keen to engage those remote from the industry, devoting 10 hectares to 7-day-a-week ‘Pick Your Own’ cherries, raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, plums and strawberries, plus a 1-acre-plus Maize Maze.
The afternoon saw us travel further toward the Kent coast for a spot clay pigeon shooting. Sandwich Bay Beach provided a cinematic backdrop for lessons culminating in a relatively friendly team competition, with top shot honours going to the Committee’s Scott Hayles.
On Sunday morning we ventured inland to Down Court Farm, Doddington, where we were hosted by Under 30s member Matt Attwood, a fourth generation farmer of a large arable farm, with a keen passion for the family business.
Crops grown on the farm include wheat, oilseed rape, and malting and spring barley, amongst others. As the port of Dover is so close, Matt explained the exporting opportunities to Europe of the wheat grown here and the uncertainty faced over the coming years following the Brexit vote. The farm also operates farm stay cottages and a bulk haulage firm.
A key characteristic of the land farmed is the soil structure, with a relatively thin layer of top soil which dramatically varies in depth across the fields, followed by a layer of heavy red clay containing flint over a chalk bed. This requires intensive management to minimise machinery damage and maximise efficiency in terms of fertiliser application, with Matt utilising laser technology and sewage cake to achieve the optimum nutrient distribution.
A traditional Sunday lunch rounded off a wonderful and insightful weekend, with members departing for their homes across Britain.
To become a member of the Club visit our Membership page http://www.thefarmersclub.com/membership.