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FARMERS

FIRST

Issue 45 – Autumn 2017

MACHINERY Special Inside

VOLATILITY DEMANDS THE PROFESSIONAL TOUCH

Selling grain through pools offers numerous benefits according to Robert Rush who, with his father Kenneth and wife Amanda is a Director of Apollo Farms Ltd, which farms 2,082 hectares in Suffolk. He states: “Marketing grain professionally is becoming ever more important because price volatility has increased enormously. Prices used to vary only by a few pounds per tonne, but the difference between highs and lows is

BUILDING Special Inside

Robert Rush of Apollo Farms, in a crop of KWS Santiago winter wheat which will be marketed through Fram Farmers’ pools.

now so significant that timing is everything in terms of managing financial risk and achieving good returns. “Fram Farmers’ pools are an excellent method of achieving above-average returns and managing financial risk, as well as easing pressure on cashflow. Advance payments on committed grain mean that we are not forced to sell early and can adopt a much more strategic approach. Using a completely independent, impartial third-party to

market grain from our contract farms also helps to maintain good relations with clients, as they know that everything is done in their best interests. “A further benefit is the huge amount of time, administration and worry that pools take off my shoulders, and others in the business, at peak times. During and after harvest we don’t even have to think about marketing grain which is committed to the pools, knowing that side of things is monitored constantly by experts so we  Continued on page 5

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See page 16 for details.


Accounting for your success 2

START UP AND NEVER WALK ALONE

We are an independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisers. Founded nearly 90-years ago to service the needs of East Anglia’s farming communities, today we offer traditional accountancy practice alongside many So, you have decided to go-it-alone, start up your specialist and niche services to clients own business and follow your dream. It may, of around thecourse, UK and be lessoverseas. of an aspiration and more a natural

next step. You have identified the niche where your expertise and experience dovetails to make both a living and, eventually, a profit.

Services & Sectors: We have eleven offices across the eastern region and attached to each of them is a dedicated start-up specialist who, during an initial free meeting, will sound out your idea, discuss your plans and chart a way forward.

Agriculture

Cloud Accounting

Our start-up philosophy is about handConstruction holding not just on the first day, week, month or year but on involvement

contract farming business by taking on a further 150-acre council smallholding to embrace arable farming as well as livestock. Our approach helped in different ways. Previously their stock values had been undervalued so using ‘real’ values combined with a more profitable year, we raised their profits. Their low income was supported by tax credits but with our approach they have been able to retain tax credits and reduce their tax through the use of capital purchases and farmers’ farmers’ Averaging Relief

through your business journey as it & Tax Corporate Finance launches and grows.

UnderpinningClient our initial conversation Private Tax are these principle questions:

Property Investments What is your business plan?

What is the best structure, sole trader or limited company?

Technology

How do these options differ from full-time employment?

Wealth Management What are the tax implications?

Record keeping is an important element of running your own business. As a ‘wage slave’ it might all have been done for you but now you’re on your own and if you have time to glance in a mirror, you’ll see your ‘back office’ looking back at you!

Bookkeeping was based on basic software which would have been challenged by the variations in income and volume of transactions. There was also the spectre of huge ongoing change within the UK’s taxation system. Our recommended specialist software allows them to keep on top of their records and see how the growing business is progressing especially as there are large rental costs and heavy investment in assets. Starting in business is a daunting task in itself but when you throw in the specifics of the farming industry and its complex tax rules, it is easy to get lost! We are available to help from day one to make sure everything is set up smoothly to allow you to concentrate on generating an income.

Contact usis renowned to speak to a specialist The farming industry for its innovative approach to increase and get aWhiting free initial consultation income streams. & Partners has a specialist farming group with a solid pedigree in winning county council-owned smallholdings and taking clients through the preparation and interview process. New clients joined us recently for advice on extending their 100-acre livestock and

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CEO Comment 3

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE Richard Anscombe

Chief Executive, Fram Farmers

Our two Brexit Workshops in June were very thought provoking. The excellent information from Rachel Lawrence of the Farm Business Survey left no-one in any doubt as to the potential implications of Brexit. I encourage you to consider how your own business will meet the challenges, as are all of us at Fram Farmers. Brexit is one of the key topics being discussed by the Board as part of a long-term strategic review. Our objective is to consider what the agricultural sector might look like by 2030 and position Fram Farmers so that it continues to meet the needs of professional farming businesses. A key topic at the Board’s Annual away day in February will be to review our business model to ensure it remains fit for purpose and is equitable for members, and that we charge fairly for the exceptional services provided. To encourage members to make maximum use of Fram Farmers I have tasked our industry sector teams to ensure that you are fully aware of what we offer and the benefits of dealing with us. We are confident in doing this because our ongoing benchmarking processes prove that Fram Farmers consistently delivers best value. This too is evident for insurance. It is two years since we launched Fram Farmers N-Sure Ltd and I am delighted with the

progress made by Lydia Chance-King, our Insurance Officer, and the team from AT & A, our insurance partner, who have saved participating members an average of 30% on their premiums. The latest development in expanding the range, quality and value of services we provide is in mobile ‘phones. Recently, we signed a two-year contract with Focus Group for mobile ‘phone lines to provide members with the highest quality technical support and service. Focus currently deal with our landline and broadband products so we have complete confidence in their customer service and pricing. They work directly with EE, O2 and Vodafone to ensure the best coverage options and will be able to answer any questions you might have. Their dedicated team for Farm Farmer’s members will be your point of contact for all mobile phone enquiries, Sam Parnell will oversee our relationship with Focus Group. Information Technology will assume ever-greater importance for progressive farming businesses. To ensure that Fram Farmers stays ahead of the curve we are conducting an IT Review which will feed into our overall Strategic Review and be of major importance in shaping the future of your cooperative. Leading this major project is Tyrone Campbell-Twells, our Building Materials Buyer, who has the knowledge and experience required and will work with me and specialist outside consultants at key stages. CSV files are the latest development from our Accounts Department, which is currently trialling them with 40 members. CSV files will help to make life easier and more efficient for members who adopt them when they are introduced later this year.

STAYING IN TOUCH With the eighth season of Pie & Pint events about to start we are taking a new approach in two areas. On October 17, a meeting for members in a Fram Farmers’ heartland of Herts and Essex will take place at Agrii’s Throws Farm Conference Centre, Stebbing and be followed by a tour of the state-of-the-art trials site, which will be fascinating. Similarly, in the North West, instead of the usual Council meeting followed by Pie & Pint we have organised a talk by an ADM economist who knows all about farming, global trends and the implications of Brexit. Structurally and financially Fram Farmers is in good shape and the team is as strong as it has ever been. Professional farming businesses continue to apply to join, many introduced by existing members who are already benefiting. One of my roles as Chief Executive is to get the best from the Fram Farmers staff, which involves selecting the best people to deliver the best service, keeping them motivated and investing in their professional development. I am encouraged by the annual staff survey which asked every team member 14 key questions about their employment. The average score was 8 out of 10, good but always room for improvement. On 5 September, I started a 15-day, 1000-mile cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise funds for Bowel Cancer UK and Prostate Cancer UK, two charities very close to my heart. The support from suppliers, team members and friends has been excellent, so a big thank you to all who have donated at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/richardanscombe2 and www.justgiving.com/ fundraising/richard-anscombe3.

This year we were very proud to sponsor the Apprentice Awards for the Suffolk (left) and Norfolk Agricultural Associations.

Fram Farmers, Station Road, Framlingham, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP13 9EE Tel 01728 727700 Every precaution has been taken to ensure that the material published in Farmers First is accurate at the time of printing. For further details about anything featured in this edition please call Sophie Clarke at Fram Farmers on 01728 727700, or Julian Cooksley and Charles Macdowell at Land Communication on 01473 353613.


4 Grain Marketing

BEHIND THE SCENES OF A MARKETING POOL

Barry Howard, who worked for Fram Farmers for 20 years before joining ADM in 2005, has indepth knowledge and experience of global grain markets, our cooperative, Members and pool marketing arrangements. Barry divides his time between the Fram Farmers office and ADM Direct at Comberton, Cambridgeshire.

Tim Styles grew up on his family’s farm in Suffolk, gained a BSc (Hons) in Farm and Land Management at Harper Adams University College and after seven years with large commercial grain and feed businesses in East Anglia joined Fram Farmers in 2010. Tim has extensive knowledge of international commodity and feed markets.

Fram Farmers’ crop marketing pools involve an extensive and comprehensive decision-making process which provides members with the best possible service, returns and security. Tim Styles, Fram Farmers’ Purchasing and Grain Marketing Manager, and Barry Howard, Senior Trader with our partner ADM Direct, outline how it works: “Few Fram Farmers members are aware of the time, resources, expertise, auditing and risk management processes which go into our crop marketing pools to make them amongst the best in the business. All are vital ingredients of a successful pool marketing operation, but our unique business structure, linking a ‘not-for-profit’ farmers’ cooperative with one of the world’s largest agricultural trading operations, provides a truly distinctive approach! Growing high-yielding, high-quality combinable crops is the aim of any professional farming business, but marketing them effectively holds the key to converting potential value into actual income. At a time when many of you will be reflecting on this year’s harvest and planning for the season ahead, it’s good to highlight the advantages of Fram Farmers’ pools, how they are structured and what happens behind the scenes.”

HIGH, SAFE RETURNS “Agricultural commodity markets now move so fast that it is extremely challenging for any producer to monitor them closely enough to optimise their marketing decisions. That’s where Fram Farmers can help. Our pools provide an excellent way of achieving aboveaverage, safe returns without having to constantly track the markets. And because we are member-owned, every penny made by the pools is returned to participating members. We currently offer four pool periods for cereals and oilseed rape: a ‘Harvest’ pool covering crop movement in August and September, 1 October to 31 December, 1 January to 31 March and 1 April to 30 June – together with pools for break crops. In addition to supplying rapeseed and milling wheat to ADM’s own facilities, Fram Farmers’ very strong links with several local feed compounders enable sales of ‘first hand’ members’ grain directly to end users. Fram Farmers pools are actively managed by grain market professionals who take care of day-to-day decisions, provide the opportunity to add value with premiums where applicable, offer a choice of payment dates, advance payments at favorable rates, credit

insurance on sales, a storage option and flexible haulage arrangements. They are governed by a Pool Committee of representatives from Fram Farmers and ADM Direct with extensive knowledge of farming and global agricultural commodity markets. The committee’s responsibilities include overseeing strategy, monitoring performance and adhering to strict standards of conduct to ensure that members derive maximum benefit from a carefully considered and balanced longer-term approach. The three farmer representatives are Fram Farmers’ Directors Andrew Read, John Parkinson and Wendy Houston, who report to the Board. Reflecting the farmers’ perspective, they work alongside Tim Styles and Chief Executive Richard Anscombe. Joining them are four of the ADM team, Barry Howard, Darrell Yarwood (Trading & Logistics Manager, ADM Direct), Martin Farrow (General Manager, ADM Erith/ADM Direct), and Stuart Carpenter (Head of Procurement, ADM Direct), who contribute an excellent spread of knowledge. Managing a pool professionally is a huge responsibility and every committee member is involved, giving access to a broad base of knowledge and different viewpoints to arrive at a balanced overview. In addition to regular physical meetings, Pool Committee members participate in scheduled conference calls which cover developments in the grain and oilseed markets. These includes major fluctuations in currency, adverse weather and other factors which might affect our pools, with the intent of constantly adapting the marketing strategy for maximum gain. The regular conference calls and reporting requirements are an excellent discipline to ensure that strategies and positions are reviewed and, if necessary, amended. Our partnership with ADM gives us uninhibited access to sophisticated trading tools and global markets that enable us to optimise potential returns while safely managing and mitigating the substantial risks now

Your Nationwide Training Specialist


Grain Marketing 5 commonplace in commodity trading, to which our members are heavily exposed. ADM’s in-depth knowledge of markets, huge analytical, technical, and economic resources, and highly-skilled personnel, go way beyond anything that even the largest farming business could contemplate. They are a major reason why Fram Farmers’ Crop Marketing Department is so effective. Fram Farmers has worked with ADM since 2010 and are an excellent partner because of their integration into the supply chain, and as one of the UK’s largest consumers of oilseed rape and milling wheat. They provide all the information the Pools Committee requires to make informed decisions and set price targets. Every day of the working week there’s some form of action and discussion taking place relating to the pools, regardless of whether we are changing a position, so your investment is always monitored and protected. MARKET-LEADING PERFORMANCE “The market-leading performance of Fram Farmers’ pools should provide a powerful incentive to consider them as a comprehensive, safe method of marketing grain that generates consistently aboveaverage returns, without the considerable risks of ‘spot’ selling. In today’s fast-changing global marketplace, prices can change very quickly and often. Whereas pure supply and demand were once the sole drivers for prices, the volume of agricultural commodities now traded far outweighs physical transactions, and speculation often drives the market, which is why it is so important to have access to professional, unbiased insight. Fram Farmers pools offer complete transparency, are fully traceable and everything we do is purely in the members’ best interests, with no cross-subsidisation. For that reason, they are popular with a wide cross-section of members, including those with contract farming operations.” says Tim, Further details from Tim Styles on 01728 727700 or Tim.Styles@framfarmers.co.uk

Continued from page 1

VOLATILITY DEMANDS PROFESSIONAL TOUCH can focus on farming. Some farmers get really hung up about paying a marketing fee, but the amount is small and irrelevant in the overall scheme of things. “We’ve used a number of pools over 25 years, and now market about two-thirds of our cereals in this way. A significant amount goes through Fram Farmers’ April-June pool simply because we haul all our own grain, and it suits us to do it then because our lorries are busy at other times. CONSISTENCY AND PERFORMANCE “When choosing which pools to use, you must consider their performance over at least five years for a good guide to their long-term consistency and potential. Fram Farmers’ pools have been extremely consistent throughout the ten-plus years that we have used them. They are always at or near the top in performance, and so we continue to increase our committed tonnage. “The other big benefit is that their crop marketing team is very easy to deal with and very good at what it does. The pools are just the right size, so they know who we are, what we are trying to achieve and so work in our best interests. Fram Farmers supply sampling packs and Freepost envelopes to submit grain for analysis, so they know what we have and can market it to the most appropriate outlets. “When it comes to yields, we budget very conservatively: 10-11t/ha for first wheats, 8.5-9t/ha from second wheats. Each year I commit the equivalent of 6.5t/ ha of wheat to the pools, knowing that the average will be much higher, so we are well covered and I have a significant tonnage to market outside of the peak season. After Christmas when things quieten down I can think about how to market the balance in a calm, considered way. “We have a very good relationship with Paul Agazarian and his colleagues. For us, the key thing is that he doesn’t push us to sell to Fram Farmers. Paul is smart enough to see the bigger picture, which gives us confidence that he is working in our best interests.”

ABOUT APOLLO FARMS Based at Hall Farm, Shimpling, Apollo Farms Ltd is owned and operated by the Rush family. It supplies contracting services to the family’s own 600ha farming business, K. & R. Rush Farms, and nine others, across 16 farms and a further 1,482ha, primarily in the Shimpling, Long Melford and Lavenham area. The company also operates a fleet of articulated lorries transporting bulk commodities throughout the south and east of England, and is proud to assist Fram Farmers with hauling its members’ crops. Overall cropping for 2017 harvest included 1,065ha of winter wheat, two thirds feed varieties, the remainder milling. The business also produces 227ha of spring barley, 54ha winter barley, 198ha beans, 186ha oilseed rape, 321ha sugar beet, with the remainder being grass, fallow or woodland. Having joined Fram Farmers in the 1970s, Apollo Farms Ltd now purchases virtually all inputs through the cooperative, from seeds, fertiliser, crop protection products and fuel to their Case IH Quadtrac 535 tractor.


6 Supplier Profile - Fertilisers

FIBROPHOS PROVES TO BE A BIG WINNER 25 YEARS ON

As farming now seems certain to be entering a period of increasing uncertainty, it is nice to know that some of our more traditional British products are going from strength to strength. It was 25 years ago that the first UK biomass power station was opened at Eye airfield, feeding green electricity into the local grid. At the same time Fibrophos PK fertiliser was born, offering great value phosphate and potash to local farmers. Now 1.5 million tonnes later, and with a national UK distribution network, Fibrophos is still as popular as ever. Felixstowebased Peter Hatcher has been Fibrophos UK marketing manager from the start and places the success of the product down to three factors: a) The valuable range of trace elements, which are naturally present, supplied at no extra charge.

With so many by-products appearing on the market, some making non-evidenced or researched claims, farmers should be particularly wary of the provenance and efficacy of the product in local agricultural soils. If in doubt always ask for a statutory statement which must be made available with every delivery. Fibrophos has been successfully trialled in a range of situations and the level of repeat business over the last 25 years speaks volumes. It is a tried, tested and proven product. These benefits are certainly endorsed by local farmer Geoff Mayhew who farms 700 hectares on the Shotley peninsula. He applies Fibrophos across all his farm and says: “Fibrophos has worked consistently for me over the past 15 years or more, delivering vigorous growth from micro and macro nutrient availability on a range of

b) The UK network of dedicated expert spreaders - who have relieved farmers of the necessary application time. c) The consistency and care in production which is tightly controlled under regulation.

Geoff Mayhew

crops - salad and maincrop potatoes, parsley, sugar beet , oilseed rape and cereals.” Fibrophos can be applied using variable rate spreaders as a straight P or K or with a range of grades in between – including Beet grades to suit individual soil and crop needs. This suits Geoff: “The tailored products fit well into my varied soil types and crop demands and are very cost effective. “We like the excellent technical backup we get from Needham Chalks enabling us to place the right product to precisely match my cropping needs.” Everyone is concerned with what the future holds but the totally UK-produced Fibrophos will always be available to British farmers for many years to come. Richard Blew, managing director of Needham Chalks Ltd who have supplied Fibrophos to Geoff and East Anglian farmers since 1991, says that pressure on farm incomes necessitates looking at better value for money products while still managing soils correctly - essential in maintaining a competitive edge in the years ahead. Heavy cropping of soils necessitates replenishing major nutrients but replacing secondary and trace elements is extremely important too. Fibrophos is available in the following grades. 0-12-12 0-5-20 0-0-20 0-9-18 0-23-0

More information including extensive trail work supporting our claims can be found on our website

fibrophos.co.uk.

Call 0800 690 6209 www.fibrophos.co.uk

Cost effective PK fertiliser with free secondary and trace elements

• Keep input costs down • Maintain and improve soil PK indices • Apply secondary elements at no cost • Gain the benefit of free trace elements • UK produced – environmentally sustainable • Efficiently applied by contractor – save time and wastage • Help improve crop vigour and health • Improve grass palatability • Pay after application – no storage or cash outlay


IT Update/ NextGen 7

CSV FILES WILL MAKE ACCOUNTING EASIER

Ian Caley

Group Accountant, Fram Farmers

Forty members are currently trialling a new system that will eventually further reduce the time and cost of entering data from your Fram Farmers’ electronic statements directly into your accounting software, explains Group Accountant, Ian Caley. “Until eighteen months ago all Fram Farmers’ members received paper statements, which was a costly and laborious process for both parties. To improve efficiency, we subsequently developed a process whereby those Members who wanted to receive statements and invoices by email could do so. Nearly 50 per cent of members have taken up this option of receiving their monthly statements only in an electronic format. We then considered how the process of delivering accounting information could be further refined, which is where CSV

NEW LOOK NEXT GENERATION COUNCIL Responsibility for Fram Farmers’ Next Generation Council (NGC) has been handed to two young, enthusiastic members of our own next generation team, Tom Mountain, who works in the Machinery Department, and Thomas Coulter, Graduate Grain Buyer in Crop Marketing. Their aim is to make the NGC highly relevant to the next generation of farmers and farm managers by developing an exciting, intellectually stimulating environment which enables members to share their enthusiasm, knowledge and concerns with other like-minded individuals. “This is exciting for us both,” Tom states. “We see the NGC as vital in developing Fram Farmers for the next

(Comma Separated Values) files came into the frame. During last year we contacted Members asking for volunteers to test this new system when it was ready, and were delighted that 40 of you came forward to take part. It took nine months of hard work by the Fram Farmers’ Accounts Department to take it from the planning phase to implementation, but by mid-July we could supply this initial group with CSV files. The CSV files contain the key information that is in the electronic statements, and this format enables it to be imported directly into a range of accounting packages, saving significant time and expense in terms of re-entering data. The new system will be fully tested over the next three months and once fully adopted a CSV file will be sent to all Members who have opted to receive their

statements electronically. It will then be up to you whether and how you use the information, which can either be imported into your accounts package or saved as an Excel spreadsheet. A small amount of set-up work may be required to configure your accounts package but because the format of the CSV files is static, once it has been done no further changes will be necessary. To reduce the initial work to a minimum we have worked closely with Farmplan and other software providers so that they are aware of what we are doing. Any queries that you might have regarding set-up should therefore be directed to your software provider, who will be able to assist. When introduced, this will be a further step along the road to providing members with the best possible service and value from Fram Farmers.”

generation by providing services which meet their requirements and aspirations. Our initial discussions, for example, have highlighted the need for more information on transitioning farming businesses from one generation to the next.” Thomas Coulter adds: “We have a database of everyone who has joined or expressed interest in the NGC and will be contacting them this autumn. Through NGC we will support members by providing information, mentoring, events, talks by industry professionals and visits to places that they might otherwise never get to go. Our intention is that the programme will be very wide-ranging, so it could encompass everything from the latest in farm management techniques and the potential impact of a ban on glyphosate to stress and mental health in the farming community. “Currently, we are looking to kick off the programme with a post-harvest barbeque at the Fram Farmers’ office, which will enable everyone to meet in an informal setting.”

Tom Mountain grew up on the family farm in Yorkshire, studied Agri-Food Marketing and Business at Harper Adams University, spent a year with a coffee exporter in East Africa, became President of the HAU Student Union and joined Fram Farmers in October 2015. Outside of work, Tom enjoys shooting, fishing, hunting, walking and Young Farmers. Thomas Coulter was brought up in an Army family and after a year working in Melbourne studied Agri-Business Management at Newcastle University. During his third year Thomas worked at Fram Farmers on placement, at the end of which he was named ‘Employee Of The Year’, then rejoined Fram Farmers in August 2016. His hobbies include rugby, skiing and golf.


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Arable Variety Update Day 9

RECOMMENDED LIST OPTIONS IN SPOTLIGHT AT VARIETY DAY Fram Farmers’ Varieties Day at RAGT Seeds’ trials site in Ickleton, Cambridgeshire in July provided an excellent opportunity to see Recommended List wheat varieties alongside some other work that RAGT is doing. Ideal weather made it a pleasure to tour this comprehensive site and hear experts from Fram Farmers, RAGT ADM Direct and ADM Milling discuss significant varieties from an agronomic and end-user point of view. “The annual Fram Farmers’ trials day is a fantastic opportunity for members to compare varieties side-by-side, and disease pressures in the treated and untreated plots,” Laura Buckingham, Fram Farmers’ Arable Inputs Manager, commented. “The varieties which are best suited to your farm might not necessarily be the highest yielding on the Recommended Lists. Take opportunities to see new and candidate varieties, try them on farm, whilst remembering the value in tried and tested varieties that work on your land.” Ross Dawson, Fram Farmers’ Arable Inputs Specialist, adds: “With margins under pressure, it has never been more important to consider a variety’s full agronomic package, and the cost of producing it in terms of inputs, from seed cost and crop protection requirements to fuel use and management time, as these all determine the gross margin. “Growers, in the past, have tended to move away from Group 3 (G3) wheats, but that is changing. Soft G4s do not do the same job of G3 wheats in terms of quality. With promising G3 varieties like KWS Barrel and KWS Bassett now available, the area drilled looks set to increase.” A WIDE CHOICE There has been an influx of Group 1 varieties in recent years, notably Skyfall which was introduced in 2012 and combined high yield with high quality, making a strong case for farmers to grow it. RGT Gravity is a new hard feed wheat and the highest yielding on the candidate list, achieving 1.4% more than KWS Kerrin. Likely to be one of the first choices for 2017/2018, it can be drilled from mid-September onwards, with a robust disease package and only septoria tritici to keep an eye on at a 5. LG Sundance is a very high yielding soft winter feed wheat which is new to the Recommended List for 2017/2018. It has a very good disease resistance profile with a rating of 7.3 for Septoria,

the only one to score above 7. It also has the best resistance to yellow rust (9), thereby reducing the risk of the two main disease threats to UK wheat. A new addition to the AHDB Recommended List for 2017/2018, KWS Zyatt is the UK’s highest yielding Group 1, with high protein levels, good agronomics and classified as a ukp bread wheat for export. It will be advisable to order as soon as you can. Supplies may also be limited for the new Group 4 winter hard feed wheat KWS Kerrin, the highest yielding variety that its breeder has ever produced, and on the Recommended List. It performs exceptionally well in the East of England and is also well suited to the North. Added to the AHDB Recommended List for 2017/2018 as a hard-milling, very high-yielding feed variety, KWS Kerrin out-yields its parent KWS Santiago and has improved disease resistance, including Septoria and Yellow Rust. Early indications support the breeder’s own data, suggesting KWS Kerrin has good resistance to sprouting, strong disease resistance, including OWBM, and good grain quality with stiff straw.

Ross Dawson, Arable Inputs Specialist, Fram Farmers, with the promising new winter wheat RGT Gravity.

EXCITING OPPORTUNITY The event also provided an opportunity to find out more about KWS Montana, an exciting new milling wheat which is naturally higher in protein than conventional G1 varieties and provides the high gluten strength flour required to produce several key bakery products. Available for drilling in 2017, it suits UK growing conditions and attracts a premium which is paid on a rising scale, up to a maximum of £25/t over Group 1 prices for the best protein, the level in Montana being naturally higher than conventional G1 varieties.

Dow Agroscience will be on stand 618 at Cereals 2017 Barry Howard, from grain marketing

Mark Ringrose, Trading Manager of ADM Milling (right), outlines what his company looks for from new varieties.

partners ADM Direct, and Mark Ringrose, Trading Manager of ADM Milling, were on hand to explain more about it. Mark stated: “KWS Montana is an exciting variety which we fully support because it has the potential to replicate German E wheat quality and achieve 14% protein under UK growing conditions. Its stronger gluten properties and higher protein means that it has the potential to meet demand for some higher-specification flours.”


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Arable Variety Update Day11 9

WHAT WAS 2016/2017 LIKE FOR YOU? The 2016/2017 season brought extremes of weather, from cold and dry, to wet and warm. We spoke to two Fram Farmers’ members and an agronomist to find out how they found it.

DAVID PETTITT - SUFFOLK

“All seasons are different and 2016/2017 was no exception,” says Fram Farmers member David Pettitt from Suffolk. Farming 390ha at Rickinghall, he grows 245ha of winter wheat, 70ha winter OSR, 50ha spring barley and 25ha sugar beet. “Autumn 2016 was straightforward and we had no issues getting winter wheat in after sugar beet, but the spring was tricky – dry and cold. Sugar beet went into moisture and was rolled, with over 95% germination. “We applied urea in the middle of February, March and April, but due to the dry weather it just sat there, then after rain crops just raced through the growth stages. For 2017/2018 I’ve changed to Ammonium Nitrate, purchased through Fram Farmers, who supply almost all our other inputs, from seeds and agchems to Amazone machinery, including a new 3000-litre sprayer. “The Variety Day was a useful opportunity to look at the new varieties. Our current wheat line-up consists of Revelation and Myriad as first wheats, with Skyfall and Costello as second wheats and Beluga as a second, continuous wheat. There was plenty of brown rust around this year and so we tend to go for varieties with a broad agronomic package. With Brexit on everyone’s minds there’s talk of the need for more quality wheats and I’m considering the new G1 KWS Zyatt.”

ROBERT CARTER - SUFFOLK

With his father Roger and brother John, Robert Carter farms 300 acres of owned land and 100 acres on contract from P. H. Carter & Son’s Thorney Green Farm, Stowupland. The business produces winter wheat (Beluga and KWS Bassett), winter barley (Volume and KWS Tower), oilseed rape, spring barley (Propino), sugar beet and spring beans on soils which comprise mainly heavy clay but run to sand and silt. In addition, it operates an extensive beef unit producing pure bred Red Poll meat for the local butcher. Robert recalled that the dry spring meant that crops did not get moisture at the time they needed it to tiller fully, and they just went nowhere at that stage. However, just prior to harvest winter cereals looked promising and the farm looked cleaner than ever, due to greater use of different chemistry and pre-em products, with Avadex working well to keep ryegrass in check. Attending a Fram Farmers’ Variety Day for the first time, Robert wanted to look at the latest wheats and barleys. Having grown biscuit wheats for years, he was particularly interested in KWS Bassett and KWS Barrel, the highest-yielding G3. Robert was also looking for a possible replacement for Propino, as last year spring barley produced the highest margin.

STEVE BALDOCK – EAST ANGLIA

Steve Baldock of Prime Agriculture LLP, who works with clients across West Norfolk, Suffolk and West Essex, states: “It was a season of extremes. The extremely dry autumn meant that cultivations were done well and early, which produced some of the best seedbeds for many years. The lack of rain delayed drilling by two to four weeks, but then we had good conditions for herbicides to work well, and good control. The downside was that oilseed rape establishment in drier areas was very poor. The long, open autumn and dry winter was an advantage on heavy soils, but a lack of rain meant that crops couldn’t take up fertiliser in the spring and it wasn’t until 2” fell in a very short time that they began to recover and took up the nitrogen in one hit. An eight-week dry spell subsequently took the edge off second wheats and the hot weather that followed made it difficult for them, although first wheats fared well, helped by significant rainfall later in the season. We planned to grow more spring crops, the major beneficiaries being spring barley, spring oats and linseed as growers changed cropping to help combat blackgrass. The sugar beet acreage increased by 20%, back to previous levels, due to the higher contract price. Light levels were generally good and crops with decent rooting structures and access to moisture yielded well. Those on deep moisture-retentive soils performed best, but some on light land and second wheats died off prematurely. We won’t see a lot of change in cropping areas for the coming season, as most who have introduced spring cropping have already done so.”


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Arable Update/Insurance 13

SUSSEX INDEPENDENT AGRONOMY GROUP PROVES POPULAR The Sussex Agronomy Group was formed during the autumn of 2009 to meet a demand for independent agronomy in the area. The initial group comprised 10 farmers who recognised the value of separating advice from supply. Coordinated by Becky Bower, Fram Farmers’ Business Development Manager (South), the Group is run by Laura Buckingham, our Arable Inputs Manager, and is free to members. Nineteen members attend four meetings a year. The two in the winter are held indoors, the third, in May, is a farm walk, while June’s involves walking variety plots

and a moisture meter clinic. There are updates on the fertiliser markets, agchem supply, best-value products and anything else topical, providing those involved in the Sussex Agronomy Group with even greater value for their membership fee.

Fram Farmers is very happy to offer this service to other areas. If you are interested please contact Laura Buckingham on 01728 727712 or Becky Bower (for enquiries from the South) on 07768 835343.

GOVERNMENT MOVE ON INJURIES COULD EXPOSE YOU TO MAJOR RISKS Changes to the way that personal injury compensation pay-outs are calculated took effect from 20 March 2017. We recommend that you immediately review your public liability insurance to ensure that sufficient cover is in place in the event of a claim, says Lydia Chance-King, Insurance Account Officer, Fram Farmers N-Sure Ltd. On 20 February 2017, the Ministry of Justice announced a cut in the Ogden Discount Rate, from 2.5% to -0.75%, the first time this has been changed since 2001. Although that might not appear significant it will have huge implications for Fram Farmers’ members. It affects anyone with an insurance policy that incorporates public liability. The Ogden Discount Rate is a calculation used to determine how much insurance companies should pay out to claimants who have suffered lifechanging injuries. This is meant to ensure that the claimant is in the same financial position as if they had not been injured, including loss of future earnings and care costs, which are increasing.

When victims of such injuries accept lump sum compensations, the amount they receive is adjusted according to the interest they can expect from investing it. The percentage rate is used to calculate future losses. By law, the Discount Rate is linked to the returns on the lowest risk investments, namely Index-Linked Gilts (Government Bonds), whose yields have fallen dramatically since 2001. The reason for using Gilts as the reference point is that the law makes clear that claimants must be treated as risk-averse investors. As an example, consider a 30-yearold male earning £25,000 annually who suffers life changing injuries, and you/ your business is held liable. Under the old rate, your insurance company would need to pay out £2,791,000 to cover the £75,000 needed annually for the rest of his life. Under the new rate the same settlement would be £6,325,000, a 127% increase. If your business only carries a £5m limit of public liability cover, you would have to find the additional £1,325,000 from your own funds!

To maintain their capital coverage ratios, insurers have inevitably been forced to raise premium rates. Many of Fram Farmers’ members will have policies with a maximum pay-out of £5 million. Under the new regulations that might not be enough, so it is critical to have your policy reviewed by an expert. Increasing premiums make it more important than ever to use a broker with specialist knowledge to properly assess your requirements and get you the best possible deal. Fram Farmers’ Insurance is proving very popular. We have saved the 113 members who have taken out insurance with us an average of 30% on their premiums. Members have also told us just how much they appreciate being able to deal directly with a member of the Fram Farmers’ team who is easily available, knows their business and provides a personal service, rather than having to go through a remote call centre. Further information from Lydia ChanceKing on 01728 727721 or email: Lydia. Chance-King@framfarmers.co.uk


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Liberator contains flufenacet and diflufenican. Redigo Deter contains prothioconazole and clothianidin. Hamlet contains mesosulfuron, iodosulfuron and diflufenican. Atlantis contains mesosulfuron and iodosulfuron. Liberator, Redigo, Deter, Hamlet and Atlantis are registered Trade Marks of Bayer. Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label and product information before use. Pay attention to the risk indications and follow the safety precautions on the label. For further information, including contact details, visit www.cropscience.bayer.co.uk or call 0808 1969522. Š Bayer CropScience Limited 2017


Brexit 15

DON’T SLEEPWALK INTO BREXIT Rachel Lawrence

Farm Business Survey

Fram Farmers’ Brexit Workshops helped members to understand the potential implications of Brexit and how to prepare for it. Many farming businesses are unprepared for life post-Brexit, warns Rachel Lawrence, Norfolk farmer and Communications Manager of the Farm Business Survey (FBS), who emphasises the need to understand the implications of Brexit and its potential impact. “It’s difficult to believe that some farmers voted to leave the EU, given that the UK pot of EU funding for 2014-2020 is £27.6bn, worth £3.1bn per year to UK agriculture, and represents a large percentage of farm incomes,” Rachel states. “The big issue is Single Market access. Currently, the EU imposes the following import tariffs on countries classed as ‘World Trade Organisation - Most Favoured Nation’ (WTO MFN): €95/t for wheat (53% of 2015 prices), €93/t for barley (53%), €2,313 for butter (63%), 12.8%+€1,713/t for fresh lamb (46%), €536/t for pork meat and 12.8%+€1,768/t for fresh beef. Outside the Single Market, we would be open to imports at much lower prices and pay these amounts to export to Europe, our largest customer. The EU imposes high sanitary and phytosanitary conditions to protect human, animal and plant life, as well as technical barriers to protect the environment and biosecurity. These have restricted imports and if outside the Single Market and looking to export to Europe, we would have to meet these conditions. Migrant labour is another issue. In 2015, UK farms employed 65,275 permanent employees, 22,517 of them EU-born workers in permanent roles, not including seasonal workers. When negotiating trade

deals UK agriculture is not a top priority for the UK government. Just 0.7% of UK GDP comes from agriculture, so comparisons with New Zealand where farming is 7% of GDP, are unrealistic.” KNOW WHERE YOU ARE

“Benchmarking is vital to understand where your farm is positioned relative to others of a similar type. The current fiveyear average performance for cereal farms in the FBS shows that the average holding size was 198ha and total income £196/ha. The average agricultural output was £985/ ha and the gross margin £599/ha, leaving a net of -£34/ha, plus £198/ha BPS and £32/ ha stewardship, giving an average income of £196/ha. If BPS fell by 50%, that would plummet to £97/ha. For grazing livestock enterprises, the five-year average farm size was 104ha, generating an agricultural output of £728/ ha and a gross margin of £350/ha, but a net margin of -£53. Adding £176/ha BPS and £49/ha stewardship gives a total income of £172/ha. In a 50% BPS scenario that would fall to £84/ha. In 2015 the average cost of producing a tonne of winter wheat in the UK was £143, the average sale price £110-£120/t, a loss of £33-£23/t. Some 35% of growers produced for £125-£150/t, 4% had costs above £250/t and just 2.5% were below £100/t. While the average cost of producing milk in the UK was 25.5 Pence Per Litre (ppl) in 2015, 6% did it for <20ppl and 3% were >35ppl. Top dairy farms spent 27% less on paid labour and 18% less on machinery per £100 of turnover. Farm income is a complicated picture, but in 2015-2016 the average was £31,500, ranging from >£50,000 for those in the East of England to <£25,000 in the South West, Yorkshire and Humberside. In comparison, the average UK household income was £34,367. Arable farms in the Top 25% earned £66,684 more than the average, an additional £268/ha and 151%/ ha more profit.

One of the ‘Brexit - Boom or Bust for your business’ workshops

From 2007-2016 the average farm business income (FBI) was £45,945, comprising agricultural income of £8,982 (20%), direct subsidies £24,106 (53%) and 12% from countryside stewardship schemes. The balance came from small scale diversification projects. The top 25% beef and sheep farms earn 89% more per farm from environmental stewardship and 70% more from diversification, but where will environmental stewardship go from here, as countryside stewardship schemes are currently Pillar 2 funded from Europe? FBS estimates that average arable farm incomes will rise from around £1,400/ha in 2015/2016 to over £1,600/ha in 2018/2019, mainly due to higher cereal prices. However, costs will increase from just over £1,200/ha to just under £1,400/ha. Compared with 2015/2016, crop costs will be up 9% in 2017/2018, concentrates by 26%, wages and salaries by 7%, machinery by 11% and land/property by 13%.” Benchmark your crops, livestock and business financial performance at www. farmbusinesssurvey.co.uk. The website is free to use and open access; future price projections are available from the online projection calculator.


16 Supplier Profile - Seed Treatment/Machinery Update

A COST-EFFECTIVE WAY TO TACKLE TAKE-ALL With fluquinconazole-based products no longer available, Certis Latitude is now the only specialist take-all seed treatment available. In second wheats, it delivers an average yield response of 0.51t/ha and in barley 0.4t/ha, with an average increase in specific weight of 1 – 5 hg/hl. Primary infection of take-all occurs in the autumn from inoculum in the soil which cause the initial foci of disease. Infections block roots, leading to external

“Using Latitude on second wheats is a no-brainer,” says Ben Larter

blackening, root loss and impaired take up of both water and nutrients. The disease can also cause stunting, often severe. Secondary infections, mainly in spring and summer, spread from root to root, extending the size of the foci. Severe root rotting results in premature ripening and often poor grain quality. Second and third cereals are most at risk, together with first cereals after a weedy fallow. Latitude slows disease development and is highly effective, creating a zone of protection around developing roots. The product increases nutrient uptake and nitrogen efficiency, improves water uptake and the plant’s ability to withstand late-season drought, providing greater flexibility in terms of when you drill. HIGHLY EFFECTIVE Plant Larter Farms Ltd at Framlingham in Suffolk, operate some 4,000 acres across seven farms. Ben Larter, who works alongside his parents John and Julie, states: “We have relied on Latitude, in combination with single-purpose seed dressings, for 10 years. Quite simply, Latitude does what it says on the tin – it works, and works well. We’ve seen no noticeable signs of take-all since. “On all seed used in a second wheat

situation we specify Latitude rather than run the risk of take-all. It’s the only option and there’s very little in the way of agrochemical options after the crop is drilled that have much effect. Potentially, take-all carries an astronomical cost. In a bad case, it could easily knock 2 t/ha off the yield, so the risk is far higher than the product cost. Using Latitude is a ‘nobrainer’. “This year we will be growing 70ha of second wheat, mainly Skyfall but with a small area of KWS Kerrin, and all will be Latitude-treated. Although it’s not an issue for us, knowing that seed has been treated would make us feel more relaxed about drilling second wheats earlier.”

POWER THAT WON“T EMPTY YOUR WALLET This autumn Case IH are offering major additional discounts on all these models. But hurry - Optum CVX, Puma and Maxxum offers finish on 31st October, and the best Quadtrac and Magnum Rowtrac on 30th November.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS OFFER, AND THE FRAM FARMERS REBATE, CALL THE FRAM FARMERS MACHINERY TEAM ON 01728 727719

www.caseih.com


MACHINERY: Case IH Fleet MACHINERY: Scheme 17

CASE IH SCHEME IS A VALUABLE INCENTIVE TO JOIN The significant rebates available to members who purchase new Case IH machinery were a key reason why in 2010 T Brown & Son Ltd joined Fram Farmers, rather than another buying group they had been considering. Farming 600 hectares at Bottom Farm, Covington, Cambridgeshire, the family business produces 240ha of winter wheat, including three varieties for basic and one for C2 seed production, together with 120ha of herbage seed, half of it fescue varieties for amenity uses such as lawn seed and turf, the remainder ryegrass primarily for the agricultural sector, such as forage leys. In addition, they produce 80ha of spring barley for seed, 50ha of spring beans and 40ha of vegetable seeds, including the UK’s only field-scale production of hybrid parsnip seed. “We were interested in the principle of buying groups, primarily because of the more competitive prices and ease of ordering, so we decided to join one,” Michael Brown explains. “At that time, we were also looking to replace our existing Axial-Flow 2388 with an 8120. The additional rebate on Case IH equipment through Fram Farmers, along with lower

electricity tariffs, persuaded us to join.” Simply by submitting a copy of the dealer’s invoice, members can claim the additional rebate, which is available on all Case IH products and based on a fixed value for each item purchased, regardless of whether for cash or on finance. Additional to any discounts that might be negotiated with the dealer at the time of purchase, the rebate is paid by Case IH directly to Fram Farmers, who distribute it to participating members, pro-rata and in full, at the end of the financial year. This innovative scheme has been growing in popularity ever since it started in 2000 and in April 2017, members who had purchased new Case IH agricultural machinery during the previous 12 months received a collective rebate equivalent to the cost of a new medium-horsepower Case IH tractor. T Brown & Son Ltd was amongst them, having purchased a new Axial-Flow 7240 in 2016 to replace the 8120, after being offered an exceptional deal which made it financially attractive to do so. “This year will mark our family’s 105th harvest at this farm and for a lot of that time we have been producing seed crops,

which require great attention to detail in terms of field and machine hygiene,” Michael adds. “We like the Axial-Flow’s relatively simple design, its versatility, ease of cleaning, good dealer back-up, value for money and reliability. “The simplicity of the single rotor threshing mechanism means that there are far fewer components to go wrong than with other rotary, semi-rotary or strawwalker type machines, which often include features that simply make them more complex and cost money, without adding any value. The Axial-Flow’s single rotor design also greatly reduces maintenance and the fully-opening side panels makes it much easy to access all the internal components for thorough cleaning, which is critical for us as seed growers.” A FINE CHOP FOR BETTER GROWTH For 2017, Case IH introduced its revolutionary new X-Tra Chopping System to optimise straw processing, distribution and breakdown to benefit subsequent crop growth. With straw and stubble management becoming an increasingly important part of following crop establishment where minimum or no tillage systems are practised, the new package creates a finer chop and more even spread of straw, leading to faster decomposition and incorporation into the soil. This boosts organic matter levels and provides the next crop with the best possible environment for germination, emergence and early growth. Soil nitrogen can also be better utilised by the growing crop, rather than being locked up by decomposing straw. After two years of trials in the UK, during which Case IH engineers ensured the package’s suitability for local conditions, X-tra Chopping became an option for the flagship 240 series Axial-Flow models for 2016-17, and can be retro-fitted to existing 230 and 240 series combines. For details about Case IH equipment and the rebates available to members contact Jemma Neesham, Machinery Buyer, Fram Farmers on 01728 727700.

Case IH Axial-Flow combines are noted for their easy operation, quick and simple adjustments, as well as utmost reliability.


18 MACHINERY: Member ProfileSupplier - Grosvenor Update Farms - Tyres

INNOVATIVE MITAS TYRE RANGE MEETS EVERY FARM REQUIREMENT Between its Mitas premium range and Cultor brand, Mitas offers a tyre to meet every farm requirement, from high-horsepower tractors to the largest combines, trailers and implements. The company is one of Europe’s most innovative producers of agricultural tyres, offering a full range which covers all applications. These can be ordered through Fram Farmers. Mitas is a major supplier of radial agricultural tyres for new tractors and combines produced by the European plants of global leaders such as John Deere, Case New Holland, Claas and AGCO. In fact, one in four new tractors and harvesters in Europe is fitted with tyres produced by Mitas, the leading European supplier of combine tyres. Committed to researching and implementing the latest innovations, Mitas co-operates with leading agricultural and industrial machinery manufacturers to help them to develop tyres which are tailormade for their purposes. The company is a nominated development partner for several original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). NEW GENERATION TYRES The Mitas range includes the latest Agriterra 02 and Agriterra 03 steel belted radial flotation implement tyres. A new generation of heavy duty, high performance

tyres for this segment of the market, they offer significant advances in terms of performance, lower operating costs and longevity. These benefits will be welcomed by customers with demanding high load or high-speed applications where ultimate performance and reliability are key requirements. Designed for use on a wide range of heavy agricultural equipment, including high-speed trailers, spreaders and slurry tankers, they deliver reduced soil compaction and fuel consumption, together with low operating costs and greater efficiency. The design of both new tyres features steel belt construction to provide a flatter footprint, greater contact area, higher load capacity, better stability at road speeds of more than 30 km/h,

improved puncture resistance and low noise emissions. Providing excellent self-cleaning properties, the Agriterra 02 features a rounded shoulder which minimises damage to the field surface when turning, which is particularly useful on grassland. Ten sizes are available, from 500/60 R 22.5 (161D) to the 850/50 R30.5 (182D), which is Mitas’ largest flotation tyre. Weighing 285kg (629lb) and with a diameter of 1.6 metres (64”), the 850/50R30.5 has a ‘D’ speed category allowing speeds of up to 65 km/h (40mph) and a maximum load of 8,500 kg (18,743kb) at an inflation pressure of 400 kPa (58psi). Delivering high performance both in field and on road, the Agriterra 03 incorporates a distinctive square shoulder, a directional tread pattern with excellent self-cleaning properties and is available in 680/65 R 30.5 (176D) and 750/60 R 30.5 (181D) sizes. Large voids within the tread patterns further improve the self-cleaning properties of these tyres, which have a tread contact area that is 11% larger than premium competitors and 22% larger than those with a traction-type tread pattern. Tests conducted by the Research Institute of Agricultural Engineering in Prague and the Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague found that compared with a premium competitor Mitas Agriterra tyres (600/55 R26.5) reduced fuel consumption during road transportation (30 km/h) by 8% and that during field operation (10 km/h) fuel consumption is 9% lower. The tyres’ deep tread increases working life. While comparing Agriterra with premium competitors, researchers found that permanent compression of soil after one pass with the trailer was 4% lower than for premium competitors and 14% lower than those with a traction-type tread pattern. Mitas flotation tyres can work at pressures as low as one bar and up to four bars, their improved pressure distribution having a positive impact on soil compression. Agriterra tyres are compatible with central inflation systems for easy and quick adjustment of tyre pressure. While many farmers still choose textile-based tyres due to their lower cost, Mitas Agriterra steel-belted radials represent a significant step forward. Further details are available at www. mitas-tyres.com or speak to Jemma Neesham, Machinery Buyer at Fram Farmers on 01728 727700.


MACHINERY Machinery 19

COST SAVING IDEAS FROM THE MACHINERY DEPARTMENT Turnover in Fram Farmers’ Machinery Department grew by over 10% last year, with several key sectors contributing to the increase, explains Thomas Mountain. “It is becoming very noticeable that more astute farmers are reviewing all their input costs and targeting savings on numerous products, not just a few big-ticket items Lubricants, for example, offer significant scope for saving money. Our close relationship with key suppliers such as Shell, Gulf, Witham, Morris and Fuchs mean that we can often suggest alternatives with the same or better performance at significantly lower cost than expensive manufacturerbranded products. AdBlue sales are increasing dramatically as older machines get replaced with the latest models which incorporate the latest technology to minimise emissions. Not so long ago we supplied two or three IVTs of AdBlue per week, now it’s that number every day. Equipment hire has also grown as members realise that it is not the poor man’s alternative to buying but the smart way to obtain the machine you want, when you need it. Hiring is now used by the most

astute, professional farming businesses not only to save money, but to improve fleet flexibility and reduce downtime. Why commit to buying a £100,000 machine and have it sit around unused for much of the year when you can hire it for £300 per week, including service, maintenance and a replacement in the event of a breakdown? You can hire pretty much anything, from tractors, combines and telescopic handlers to trailers, balers and cultivation equipment. If you are thinking of hiring, do contact us first, as we provide excellent rates and nationwide availability through key hire companies. How about a JCB 531-70 for £201 per week? Spare parts are another area where big savings can be made, and are very important as members keep equipment for longer. We have negotiated excellent terms with key suppliers of both genuine and non-genuine parts, which could save you a significant amount. Recycling services are seeing rapid growth and we now place significant business through a range of companies, so contact us for more information.

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With margins under severe pressure it always pays to check any prices that you are offered with Fram Farmers, because our enormous buying power enables us to negotiate the best terms.” Further details from the Fram Farmers’ Machinery Department on 01728 727719

Astute farming businesses are increasingly hiring machinery during periods of peak demand.

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BUILDING: Farm Diversification 21

PARLOUR POOL IS SARAH’S DIVERSIFICATION PROJECT

A swimming pool as a diversification business? Sarah Needham says the very idea is still met with mild bewilderment. Yet she has turned a pipedream, namely the old milking parlour at Harwood Gate Farm, Chipping Sodbury, South Gloucestershire, into a project – The Parlour Pool Ltd - with a little help from Fram Farmers. “All I ever wanted to do was swim, so a swimming pool as a diversification project always seemed logical. But I’m also a swimming teacher and have three children, so my perception is quite different,” says Sarah Needham of a project that she has been dreaming of since childhood. The idea gained momentum in 2013 when Sarah began researching similar pools and realised that they could work extraordinarily well. Now, after all the planning, persuasion, meetings and hard work it’s finally come to fruition, with Fram Farmers supplying a range of materials, including Readymix concrete, accessories, blocks, cement, aggregates, block-andbeam flooring and cavity wall systems.

The original derelict farm buildings were demolished to make way for the Parlour Pool.

“Fram Farmers have been ‘a-mazinging’!”, Sarah emphasises. “Their buyers saved me countless hours getting prices and money, as their prices are most competitive.” The Parlour Pool, a new indoor swimming pool which will serve the local community around Chipping Sodbury, was designed for swimming lessons and to hire to private groups. Located on a working dairy farm, it offers something different for those wanting somewhere quiet to swim. “It took a lot to convince my dairy farming aquaphobe father, John Ludlow, to support the project, but he provided the buildings and financial backing while I manage the project and run the business,” Sarah adds. “It’s not easy to keep a farm going and pass it to the next generation, so it’s the joint effort between father and daughter which went into this project that’s important. With 190 acres and 90 cows, our farm is too small to support my family so I needed to do my own thing. The pool will allow the farm to continue. It’s both exciting and terrifying! The dairy farm moved to robotic milking a few years ago to reduce labour costs, so the old parlour became redundant. The overall new pool building, which is approximately 19m long x 8m wide, houses the new, purpose built indoor swimming pool 12.5m long (half a short course pool), 5m wide and 1.2m – 1.5m deep. Securing a Rural Development Programme for England LEADER grant, which covered 40% of eligible costs, was essential. It took a year to get, and I had to present to a panel in Bath because they struggled to understand how the swimming pool could work. There was also strong opposition from the local council, which felt that it would displace business from their leisure centres”.

Work gets under way digging out the base.

HOW HARD CAN IT BE? “When I started out I just thought - build a pool - how hard can it be? Well, it’s been a tad trickier than anticipated - it’s a complicated, expensive business and you must be really determined! The greatest worry was the budget and sticking to it! My poor suffering husband, Chris, was roped in as a full-time labourer to help keep costs under control, but it felt like every time I thought I was on top of the budget another spanner flew into the works! Predictably, the building site generated much interest from neighbours and passers-by, but I’ve been amazed at how excited local people are about having this new resource on their doorstep. Even the reluctant resident farmer is starting to see that my harebrained plan might just work! From a business and marketing pointof-view it got exciting when I talked to an influential swimming instructor about the best way to use this great new facility, which we plan to open to the public in January 2018. The pool is small, quiet and provides the perfect environment which families can hire, and where people can access swimming lessons. It gives a new purpose to old buildings and provides a much needed second income for the farm. Project pool…. that crazy project has come to fruition. I mean, really, who builds a swimming pool on a farm to create a business? It’s an outrageous, bonkers plan, but I’m sure it’ll all work out!”


22 BUILDING: Electricity

ELECTRICITY BUYING PATTERNS ARE CHANGING Julia Bryson

Electricity Buyer

Flex buying traditionally used to be for larger businesses. However, changes are beginning to happen, with Smart Metering increasing throughout the UK and reporting systems becoming available to all end users. Until recently, Fram Farmers purchased all electricity contracts on a fixed price. Last year, however, working alongside Kinect Energy, we began to explore Flex Buying of larger consuming, half-hourly metered sites. Flex buying looks at our combined aggregate usage profile over these types of sites, and builds a shape of our members’ usage over the course of a year. It then splits it into Baseload, the predictable energy use, and Peak, the spike in usage on top of the predicted usage. An increasing number of our members have sites which have seasonal usage,

examples being grain stores, cold stores and irrigation pumps. Therefore, we felt that it would be prudent to look at where potential savings could be made, now and in the future. Flex buying allows energy to be purchased multiple times when the wholesale price is attractive. Working with Kinect Energy, we have set an upper limit which we would not want to exceed to ensure that our members receive the best possible deal. Within this, no hidden charges or extra costs are incurred from our supplier. Alongside this, our supplier billing will show what can best be described as a traffic light system whereby members can see when, if possible, they could make further savings by switching off or turning to another form of generation to cover usage during periods of high demand. An example could be by avoiding the peak ‘Red’ time between 4pm and 7pm, and trying to push as much usage as possible into the ‘Amber’ and ideally ‘Green’ periods. We appreciate that this may not be possible for all members at all times of

Industrial & Agricultural Doors

the year, but by making everyone fully aware we would hope that this will result in members exploring their options, with assistance from Fram Farmers and our supplier. REPORTING SYSTEMS At Cereals 2017, our supplier shared an area of the Fram Farmers’ stand to demonstrate the new Intelligent Analytics reporting system. This will assist members with day plus one usage at sites such as the above, but will also help members with smaller Smart Metering sites. By applying for a login and password a member can log in at any time to view data on their sites to ensure that energy is being used as efficiently as possible. Already some members have reported instances where a site is consuming when they think it should not, an example being lights left on in farm buildings or computers/printers in the farm office. For further details contact Julia Bryson, Electricity Buyer, Fram Farmers on 01728 727723 or email Julia.Bryson@ framfarmers.co.uk .

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BUILDING: Insulation Materials 23

SUPPLIES OF PIR INSULATION TIGHTEN If you have purchased polyisocyanurate (PIR) insulation products, such as Ecotherm, Kingspan Kooltherm or Celotex, you may have noticed that they are more difficult to get hold of - and more expensive. The main reason is that supplies of Methylene Diphenyl Diisocyanate (MDI), one of the chemicals used to make insulation react and expand into the usable product that you purchase, have been much reduced. One of the few major producers of this chemical had a serious fire about a year ago and is only now back to full production. The situation is being compounded by increasing demand from new, more lucrative markets, such as Asia, so manufacturers can make more money selling MDI elsewhere, which affects all manufacturers of PIR insulation. EcoTherm, one of the largest companies in this sector, develops, manufactures and supplies thin polyisocyanurate (PIR) rigid thermal insulation board products throughout the UK, including insulation solutions for pitched roofs, flat roofs, walls and floors. They told us: “The cost per kg for this key component remains extremely unstable and the reduced supply has

forced material prices to increase at unprecedented rates. These extremely volatile increases have been immediately enforced by our supplier, resulting in escalating costs.” Adrian Harvey, who works for timber and builders merchant Ridgeons, where he is Account Manager for Fram Farmers, had this to say: “Lead times on PIR insulation products will continue to be affected until the supply chain has returned to normal levels, but at Ridgeons we continue to do our utmost to fulfil the requirements of Fram Farmers’ Members. Where we are unable to do so with PIR products we offer a range of alternatives, including mineral and glass wool products.” Tyrone Campbell-Twells, Building Materials Buyer for Fram Farmers, has the following advice for Members who have upcoming projects that may require PIR Insulation: “With reduced availability and long lead times, planning ahead has never been more important. Merchants are being allocated fixed quantities of PIR by manufacturers and invariably there is not enough to meet the demand from all their customers. When stock arrives into a branch, if it hasn’t already been spoken for, it will soon disappear. If you require

these products and have suitable space to store them, I would encourage you to buy ahead of time so as not to delay your projects.”

Please get in touch with Tyrone if you have any questions or need help planning your purchases, on 01728 727718 or email tyrone@framfarmers.co.uk

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Farmers First Issue 45 - Autumn 2017  

The latest news from the UK's leading agricultural cooperative