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‘An Audience with Michael Horsch’ arranged by Horsch main dealer Manns attracted farmers from across East Anglia keen to hear Michael’s opinions on UK and world agriculture.

commercial reasons or whether his theories regarding cultivation have changed I am not sure, but his range has evolved and might suit us better now,” he added.

Norfolk family farm

Optimism for industry stimulated by dealer exclusive event Claas main dealer Manns invited customers from across East Anglia to ‘An Audience with Michael Horsch’ at which the theme was less about Horsch machinery and more about moving forward as an industry. David Williams reports. The seminar was organised by franchise and general sales manager Chris Chilvers and took place at Bedford Loge Hotel, Newmarket in early February. Following very positive feedback, Farmers Guide caught up with some of those who attended to find out what made the occasion a big success.

Northants grower Andrew Pitts of Grange Farm, Mears Ashby, Northamptonshire described the opportunity to hear Michael speak as fascinating. “His approach to many aspects of our industry was different to other speakers I have listened to, but what he said made a lot of sense,” he explained. “For example, he pointed out that we are always hearing potential world population increase used as justification for everything we do, and it was obvious that Michael feels we should just get on with it. “Glyphosate was another subject

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Andrew Pitts (left) with Michael Horsch.

he felt strongly about. He said it is obviously vital to conservation agriculture but that the time wasted by the German government debating it for a week at a time is ridiculous.” Andrew, an arable farmer, commented that the recent winter weather has made him thankful that his family gave up dairy farming many years ago and that, although he enjoys eating red meat, potential for growing the raw ingredients as crops, then using these to manufacture meat indistinguishable from animal-derived meat is a prospect that will shake up livestock production should it go mainstream. “This is possible now and has been achieved in Silicon Valley according to Michael. It cooks like the meat we are used to, tastes just the same and for many people with a conscience this could well appeal, bypassing the need to rear, fatten and kill an animal to obtain it. He went on to suggest this could easily become the main

source of red meats for the future. I also found his comments regarding flexitarianism interesting. Many of us already practise this without realising but it involves reducing red meat and dairy intake in favour of white meats, and consuming more healthy foods such as vegetables and fruits. However, as we are doing this mainly for health reasons, developing countries are increasing their intake of red meats and dairy as they see this as the western diet and something to aspire to. Their perception is different to the reality.” Andrew deals with Manns depots at Spaldwick and Market Harborough and uses Claas tractors and a Lexion 780 combine. “We have used Lexions since they first entered production in the 1990s,” he said. “I think the biggest mistake arable farms can make is lacking combine capacity to harvest crops when there is the opportunity and get them into store. Next year’s cropping depends on getting this year’s harvest finished and our combine is definitely bigger than many would say we need. Claas makes exceedingly good, reliable machinery and we wouldn’t move from the brand.” Asked if he currently uses Horsch products, Andrew said he doesn’t, but his crop establishment process is changing gradually and now almost half the farm is direct-drilled. “We need to reduce our fixed costs and I will consider Horsch when we next update equipment. I find it interesting that 20 years ago Michael Horsch was very anti disc cultivation but has now added them to the range. Whether this is for

Also at the event was Will Goff with his father Michael of Foxburrow Farm, Wymondham, Norfolk. Trading as Foxburrow Farm Ltd, the family farm is mixed arable and livestock growing cereals and sugar beet, while also renting land out for potatoes, and with a herd of Red Poll cattle and a mixed-breed flock of sheep. The Goffs deal with Manns’ Thursford depot and Will said the service provided to back-up the family’s Claas combine is excellent. All the main cultivation machinery, the sprayer and the drill are from Horsch since the farm moved to the brand buying the drill first as it had just the features needed. “Horsch has always been supportive,” explained Will. “I don’t think there is a lot of difference between the build quality of leading brands but they made a drill which was just what we needed, so we changed. Listening to Michael Horsch speak is always insightful and I think when one hears his passion for the industry it is obvious that a huge amount of thought goes into the equipment. “We try to be aware of what is happening but are still restricted in our thoughts by what people do locally and nationally. However, Michael’s worldwide perspective includes aspects of the industry we haven’t experienced so we can benefit from his knowledge and opinion.” Will said one point made by Michael which seemed particularly relevant to UK farmers was that world supply of agricultural produce is becoming more constant. “Russia and the Far East used to experience spikes in production from year to year, which had a big effect on the price achievable for our crops. However production has stabilised and become more constant year to year. Therefore we can’t expect a return to wheat at almost £200/t anytime soon and what we have now is what we are likely to have in the future. We can’t wait for the world to change but need to look for extra value from premium or alternative crops to move forward. “As an industry we should be working together to give a message of quality to the shopper, explaining British foods are produced in good soils using minimum amounts of continued over...

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