UK farmers face an increasingly uncertain and volatile global market place, exacerbated by the country’s decision to leave the EU. Factors outside their control, such as commodity prices, weather and politics, are set to have even more influence on the bottom line.

Reducing unit production costs and increasing productivity through technical excellence is becoming even more relevant to remain competitive. With that in mind, this year’s CropTec seminars highlight key areas farmers can influence that directly affect business performance, says CropTec development director Stephen Howe.

“The programme focuses on four areas affecting profitability that are well within growers’ control – crop establishment, crop nutrition, crop protection and crop breeding.

“These seminars, in conjunction with CropTec’s specialist hubs and the wide array of technical exhibits from leading suppliers, provides the ideal catalyst for more detailed discussion to help visitors increase yield, improve efficiency and reduce the all-important unit costs of production.”

Crop Establishment Sponsored by Horsch and Alliance Tires

Session chair: Hertfordshire farmer Andrew Watts

Soil organic matter – the root to profitability Andy Whitmore, Rothamsted Research 

Soil organic matter holds the key to consistent and higher yields. Raising levels can improve soil workability, nutrient release and yields.

Controlled traffic farming Tom Hawthorne, Flawborough Farms, Lincs

Can the advantages of controlled traffic farming outweigh the investment?

Taking the risk out of oilseed rape Andrew Blazey, Prime Agriculture

Key pointers to help oilseed growers mitigate the uncertainty of poor establishment.

Good soil structure and factors that affect it, such as soil organic matter levels, cover crops and cultivation systems, are key to good establishment, says session chair Andrew Watts.

“People accept that soil organic matter is a critical component of soils, but there is still a lot of confusion about managing it.

“I, along with many visitors I’m sure, want to hear more about current thinking and how this will help maintain our soils in the best of health.

Crop Nutrition Sponsored by Yara

Session chair
: Mark Tucker, head of marketing and agronomy, Yara UK

ADAS – RB209 – What to expect in the next edition

RB209, the long-established guide for crop nutrition, is being revised to accommodate changing requirements, higher yielding crops and more nutritional uptake.

Day 1: Sarah Clarke, ADAS Day 2: Susie Roques, ADAS
Nutrient issues – Learnings from ‘Big Dataset’

Nitrogen is the #1 nutrient for achieving average yields, however, consistent high yields are the consequence of understanding and reacting to other seasonal limitations – some we can manage, some we can’t. Jonathan Telfer will explore some findings from a ‘BIG DATASET’ held in the Yara Analytical Laboratory.
Jonathan Telfer – Yara Analytical services

Nutrient management – Measuring to manage and apply – A farmers view
Collating and managing a practical nutrient strategy is a challenging task for any grower. Here’s how one large-scale farmer balances nutrient demand and nutrient supply by integrating soil and crop knowledge with the application of nutrients from AD residue and mineral fertilizers. Here’s how the strategy is implemented at Bedfordia Farms and a description of some of the tools used to fine-tune crop management

Ian Rudge – Bedfordia Farms
The purpose of the crop nutrition seminar is to help farmers to make the best use of crop nutrition products and support services so that not a fertiliser granule or droplet more – or less – than required is applied, says Rosie Carne, communications and PR manager at Yara.

“The RB209 revision is about to be published. Researchers responsible for the rules will describe them, and other speakers will discuss the findings and implications for UK arable farmers.”

Crop Protection Sponsored by Belchim

Session chair:
Andrew Ward, Lincolnshire farmer

Forces for change: Crop Protection Think Tank Panel:

Bill Clark, technical director, NIAB TAG; Guy Gagen, NFU chief arable adviser;
Jon Knight, AHDB crop protection specialist; Simon Leak, development and marketing manager, Belchim Crop Protection; Rob Edwards, Newcastle University (Weds); Catherine Tetard, Newcastle University (Thurs).

The crop protection arena is undergoing rapid change due to tightening regulatory, legislative and environmental pressure while pest, disease and weed resistance escalates. What does the future hold?

One area session chair Andrew Ward is keen to see discussed is the interaction between resistant varieties and cereal fungicide use.

“We have some fantastic varieties with high disease-resistance scores, but we are still being told we need very robust disease control programmes to get the best out of them.

“I am growing cleaner, newer varieties and have cut back on inputs. Comparative on-farm trials tell me I’m not currently losing out, but it’s an area I’d like to see explored further.”


Crop Breeding Sponsored by Bayer

Session Chair:
Susannah Bolton, knowledge exchange director, AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds.

Risk-proofing the rotation

Planning the following year’s rotation with regard to cash-flow and longer-term implications for black-grass control and other management constraints.

Will Gemmill, head of farming, Strutt & Parker

High hopes for hybrid wheat

Why hybrid wheat might provide the answer to more profitable times for UK growers.

Bill Angus, independent wheat consultant

Hopes for the future – New breeding technologies

How new breeding technologies could improve growers’ competitiveness and profitability.

Helen Sang, Roslin Institute

A good understanding of variety performance and the options that variety choice offer is critical in making the best decisions for farming businesses, says session chair Susannah Bolton.

“This session explores those options, ranging from rotation planning through to the potential of hybrids to manage sowing date and the exciting future that new breeding technologies could offer in pest and disease resistance and resource-use efficiency.”