Page 1

FARMERS

FIRST

Issue 47 – Spring 2018

ARABLE Special Inside

MILKING THE BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP Since Somerset dairy farmers W J Masters & Sons Ltd joined Fram Farmers in 2013, they have encouraged five other farming businesses in the region to do the same. “I’d looked to join a buying group because there just wasn’t enough time to search for the best prices on our farm inputs,” states Richard Masters of Sharpshaw Farm, Nunney, near Frome. “A friend of mine, Rob Pottow at Warminister, had been a member of Fram Farmers for some time and it was apparent that there were significant savings to be made, so I enquired and joined shortly afterwards.

“It cut our electricity bill by 20%, and that alone more than covered the membership fee, but the time savings and convenience are considerable. Now, we book a wide range of inputs through Fram Farmers, from the NMR service, dairy semen, feed supplements, minerals, lime, ammonium nitrate and maize seed, to fuel, heating oil, building materials, crop chemicals and a Hilux pickup. Last year, when we put up a new storage building for straw, sawdust and fertiliser, it saved us £500 on concrete panels alone.” As an active member, Richard now finds the annual Pie and Pint meeting, held locally during the winter, a very

At T1

secure your wheat’s full potential

Protect against the broad-spectrum of T1 diseases Aviator235Xpro contains prothioconazole and bixafen. Aviator and Xpro 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. © Bayer CropScience Limited 2018

Richard (left) and Peter Masters

useful way to catch up with other members, hear the latest about the group and meet directors and staff. A WIDER PERSPECTIVE The business started when his grandfather purchased the 160-hectare Sharpshaw Farm in 1950, but when he died his four children, including Richard’s late father, took over. Richard now runs the business with his brother Peter, supported by uncles Ronald and Herbert, aunt Ruby and four full-time staff. Over the years the family has purchased two adjoining farms and the business now extends to 252ha within  Continued on page 4


Serving the Eastern Region for 90 Years

The GDPR – Are you Ready? The General Data Protection Regulation represents a major step forward in the fight against cybercrime so preparation is key and understanding the complex rules is vital. ‘Are you ready?’ is a question we now pose regularly as more legislative change impacts on our lives. The General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR, is next and it’s quite startling to see just how many businesses are not prepared for its implementation and it’s alarming that quite a few owners are not even sure what it means and if they should be taking part.

All organisations will have to comply with them and there are severe penalties for any that ignore or break those rules, even unintentionally. Businesses should consider how they deal with the personal data of employees, customers and suppliers. Data collected previously may not be used unless it was collected in a manner compliant with the GDPR.

With our subsidiary company Decisive: IT we, like many other firms, have been staging workshops and seminars to bring the business communities up to speed on the GDPR. It is implemented on May 25 and thereafter those failing to comply could face severe penalties. Ignorance will not be a defence.

Individuals have the right to request details of the information held about them, why it’s being held and how it is processed. As a business or organisation, you cannot charge for this unless it is an excessive demand. Individuals can request that the holder deletes their data or rectifies any mistakes and every piece of personal information held by your business should be identifiable.

Let me clarify a couple of points. Although the GDPR is essentially EU legislation, it or a model very similar will apply in post-Brexit UK through the Data Protection Bill 2017 which is currently making its way through Westminster. It largely embraces the principles of the GDPR. Basically, if you process data about individuals in the context of selling goods or services in other EU countries then you will need to comply with the GDPR. Our government committed to the legislation long ago and your business focus should be on becoming compliant with the new rules.

Data collection and storage procedures will need to conform to the GDPR requirements. This includes the reporting, within 72-hours, of any breaches. Security systems will need to be robust and businesses should have a clear plan, knowing what data is retained, where it is held, who has access to it and how to report a breach.

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CEO Comment 3

OPENING UP TO NEW POSSIBILITIES increased our investment in the Next Generation Group, which held its first meeting of 2018 during February, as shown in the image below. Richard Anscombe

Chief Executive, Fram Farmers

‘If you are only going to talk to one group of consumers, then make sure it’s the millennials’. That was the key message from a fascinating agri-business course at Harvard Business School (HBS) in Massachusetts during January, which I attended with the Chief Executives of Woldmarsh Producers and Dengie Crops, two of our partners in Saturn Agriculture.

It made me even more aware of the need to understand, acknowledge and respond to the behavioural patterns and purchasing habits of millennials (those born between 1982 and 2000), who are vital to the future of all industries. They are much less receptive to having products and services ‘pushed’ on them, distrust large corporations/organisations, are very independent and want to choose and customise the products/services they purchase. Take food, for example. Many millennials do not follow traditional eating patterns, and for many family meals are a thing of the past, which means immense change for the agri-business/ food sector. Millennials increasingly favour fresh, environmentally-sustainable produce, so it will be interesting to see the impact of developments such as Amazon’s recent $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods. The UK is but a small dot on the global landscape, so we must be aware of what is happening in other countries, understand the threats and opportunities of a fast-changing global environment and be creative when thinking about the future. To reflect this, Fram Farmers have

INDUSTRY LEADERS At Harvard, we studied twelve companies at the cutting edge of their sector. They included machinery manufacturer John Deere, natural animal nutrition and health product manufacturer Alltech, groundbreaking tomato producer Nature Sweet, multi-national Kelloggs, Mondelēz International, one of the world’s largest snack companies and Yili Industrial Group, the largest dairy producer in China (where demand for milk is increasing by 11% annually). Each was evaluated by a Harvard professor and every session was attended by a very senior person within the business. It was tremendously beneficial to spend time with leaders in the global agri-business and food sectors, including the Managing Director of Kelloggs, Chief Executive of Mondelēz International Inc and Dr Mark Lyons, global vice president of Alltech. Alltech is a dynamic family business with a strong vision of the future and what is required to operate sustainably. They understand their market absolutely, constantly challenge what they do and how they do it, encourage employees, and stay very close to their customers. They also exhibit an urgency to identify new opportunities, then commit to making them happen. This approach resonates strongly

with my own views on how to run a successful business, and I encourage you to bear these characteristics in mind when thinking about your own. Think also about the resources you have at your disposal in terms of assets and knowledge, and consider how you can ‘own’ the relationship with your customers and consumers. The closer that relationship, the more you will understand their requirements and the better your business will be for it HUMAN CAPITAL HBS highlighted that although the world is awash with financial capital to invest, not nearly enough is finding its way into developing human capital, the life blood of any business. Nature Sweet is a good example of such investment. The company’s raison d’etre was to bring their employees in Mexico out of poverty so they could have a good quality of life rather than just an existence. To do that, the company shared its business plan and vision with the staff, then demonstrated how achieving certain productivity goals would transform their lives. The benefits of having shared values and goals cannot be over-stated and will become more important. In the future, the pace of change in agriculture will never be as slow as it is today, so I would urge those of you with your own next generation to encourage them to gain an eclectic view of the world by working in different business, geographical and cultural environments.

The first meeting of the year for the Next Generation Group took place on 1st February.

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 Member Profile - W J Masters & Sons, Somerset Continued from page 1

a ring fence, plus 12ha which is rented. The land supports two dairy units with 380 Pedigree Holsteins, which are mainly autumn calving and average 8,200 litres, all milk being supplied to Barbers at Ditcheat near Shepton Mallet, the world’s oldest-surviving cheddar cheese maker. Two-thirds of the 190ha of grass is into four-year leys, which are rotated with the 50ha of maize and 12ha of wheat. “We’ve got a lot of animals - not just the dairy cows but up to 300 followers. We try to do most things ourselves, including drilling maize and grass, and spreading slurry with our own umbilical system. We also harvest the maize with our 17-year-old self-propelled forage harvester, so that we can do the job when it best suits the crop and our workload. If you can make silage right, it saves a lot of money through the winter months, but we can’t do everything and have a contractor do the spraying, hedge cutting and a little round baling,” Richard explains. SURVIVING BREXIT Looking to the future, he believes that post-Brexit change will be inevitable but recognises that this could be both

positive and negative depending on how a business is positioned. As a member of two local discussion groups, Richard has visited many farms and businesses, giving him a valuable insight into how others operate. “If you can be in the top 25% in any sector then, probably, you’ll always be there whatever happens. Some farms won’t be able to compete, others will choose not to and realise the assets, but that will provide opportunities for those who remain, have the necessary skills and access to sufficient capital. The key is to operate a business which is efficient, not over-leveraged and has enough reserves to cope with the inevitable ups and downs of the market.” Everyone is familiar with the old saying ‘you’ll never see a farmer on a bike’ but in Richard’s case you just might. When not on the farm, Richard is a keen cyclist and last year rode from London to Paris for charity, raising £5,500 for The Alzheimer’s Society as a thank you for the help the charity gave his father. This summer, Richard will be joining other Fram Farmers’ members, staff and directors in a sponsored charity cycle ride around East Anglia.

POSITIVE FEEDBACK FROM PIES AND PINTS

MOVEMBER REMEMBERED

In November six Fram team members found themselves having to explain their new facial hair at every supplier meeting. James Gentry, Tim Gilbert, Ross Dawson, Thomas Mountain, Tyrone Campbell-Twells and Nick Hindle (left to right) raised £626 for the Movember Foundation. The fund supports projects focussed on prostate and testicular cancer, and mental health. Ross’s next challenge is the London Marathon – this time he is fundraising for Dogs For Good, who provide trained assistance dogs.

AWARD SPONSORSHIP Fram Farmers was delighted to sponsor the Rural East of England Award section of The Community Co-operative Awards 2017, won by the Rocklands Community Shop in Norfolk. The awards are run by Plunkett Foundation which supports the setting up and running of life-changing community co-operatives, tackling issues ranging from isolation and loneliness to poverty. Richard Anscombe, Fram Farmers’ Chief Executive, is a trustee.

2018 DATES FOR YOUR DIARY This year you can meet up with our team at all these events: During November, Becky Bower, Fram Farmers’ Business Development Manager (South) ran six Pie & Pint meetings in Sussex, Kent, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall, one more than in 2016 due to a group of new members joining in Devon. A total 90 farmers attended, a 14% increase on the previous year. The events were very popular and attracted some very positive comments. Lincoln Cranfield, a dairy farmer from Bower Farm, North Chailey near Lewes in East Sussex, commented: “It was a great social time to catch up with other farmers, but more importantly good to get a general overview of what is happening in the market, and hear from

Richard Anscombe as to what Fram Farmers are doing. I’m sure the staff of Fram Farmers appreciated the feedback they received on the night, but likewise I appreciated the feedback from them. A very good event.” Potato farmer Chris Dustow from Colwith Farm, Par, Cornwall, added: “It was good to see other farmers in the area, particularly as in my business I don’t meet other farmers very often. It was a great opportunity to compare notes and experiences. Every time I have been to a meeting I have come away with new ideas to save money. If meetings are too often they can be a waste of time, but once every year it is a great opportunity to focus the mind on what Fram Farmers are doing to help us.”

30 - 31 May: Suffolk Show. Ipswich 7 - 9 June: Royal Cornwall Show. Wadebridge *

13 - 14 June: Cereals 2018. Duxford, Cambridgeshire 27 June: Varieties Trial Day. BASF site, Stonham Aspal, Suffolk, by kind permission of James Forrest

June: Moisture Meter Clinic & Variety Trials Day. Plumpton College, Sussex* 1 - 2 September: Dorset County Show. Dorchester

19 September: Laughton Ploughing Match. Sussex 3 October: Dairy Show. Shepton Mallet, Somerset* * to be confirmed


ARABLE: Supplier Update - Fungicide 5

MANAGING SEPTORIA IN WHEAT: PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE With the choice, scope and efficacy of existing curative fungicides coming under increasing pressure – both in terms of their effectiveness due to potential resistance, and their availability due to regulatory pressures – growers and agronomists need to ensure each new leaf is adequately protected from septoria, thereby avoiding the need for curative treatments.

Adama’s concept of ‘Precision Crop Protection’ therefore advises growers to use good quality, well proven formulations of appropriate active ingredients at the most relevant time and at the correct dose to provide effective protection. The most effective way to control septoria is to prevent infection from occurring in the first place: this means ensuring each newly emerged leaf is protected prior to the first infection period – in essence, before the first spores land on the leaf and germinate. Accurately assessing the timing of local infection events and subsequent latent periods is difficult to predict with any degree of accuracy, although advances in disease forecasting technology should allow for more precise in-field assessments of critical timings in the future. Until that technology is available, growers should therefore ensure they stay ahead of the disease by laying down protection on newly emerging leaf layers.

It is possible, using the current arsenal of crop protection products, to protect leaf 3 and the flag leaf (leaf 1) with well-timed applications at T1 and T2 respectively. However, leaf 2 often goes unprotected at its emergence, with growers relying on the subsequent T2 application to give kickback curative activity against any existing latent infection. This puts leaf 2 at significant risk to the infection being beyond chemical control, especially if the T2 application is delayed, and even more so as the current arsenal of fungicides has a much reduced curative capacity. Growers should therefore consider the concept of ‘Leaf Layering’ (applying protection to each new leaf as it emerges) to ensure optimum protection during the ‘at risk’ period. For leaf 2, this means applying a T1.5 treatment. The first choice of active ingredient for any T1.5 treatment should be a multi-site such as folpet. Folpet will provide good levels of contact protection against septoria, and can be mixed with a strobilurin to protect against the threat of rust, or an azole/morpholine if active rust is present. The following guidelines should be considered: • T1.5 applications should be timed to treat the fully emerged leaf 2 (GS33-37). • T1.5 treatments should be used to protect crops which have experienced excessively wet conditions after T1, or where there is a long interval between T1 and T2. • For protection against septoria, a straight multi-site (e.g. folpet) should be used. • For Yellow Rust prevention, a strobilurin plus multi-site (folpet) tank mix should be used. Where curative activity is required, an appropriate triazole should replace the strobilurin. FOLPET; THE PERFECT MULTI-SITE PARTNER FOR SEPTORIA CONTROL In addition to providing good control of septoria and offering activity against rust, the use of a multi-site fungicide such as folpet will also take the pressure of resistance off azoles and SDHIs. Folpet belongs to the phthalimides chemical group: like other multi-site fungicides such as chlorothalonil and mancozeb, it affects a number of different metabolic sites within a pathogen, thereby giving it a very low risk of resistance. Modelling work has predicted that the addition of folpet to the tank-mix could theoretically extend the fully effective lifetime of high risk fungicides: for example, the fully effective lifetime of epoxiconazole would be extended from 8 to 16 years, with

the lifetime of pyraclostrobin going from 4 to 8 years. Field trials conducted in 2014 also showed that the addition of folpet to an azole stopped the selection of resistant septoria strains, preventing any further slippage in fungicide performance. Similar results were also seen in 2015 trials carried out on SDHIs. Folpet has also been proven not to interfere with the curative kickback activity of partner azoles or SDHIs. Folpet is available as Arizona (500g/l folpet SC) as a flexible mixing partner, and Manitoba (50g/l epoxiconazole + 375g/l folpet SC) where it is co-formulated with a leading azole. In both cases, Arizona and Manitoba are based on tried, tested and proven formulations.

Arizona: a unique multi-site protectant fungicide containing straight folpet for providing an anti-resistance strategy for the control of Septoria and a range of other cereal diseases in wheat and barley.

Manitoba: a unique combination of the anti-resistance component, folpet, plus a leading azole, epoxiconazole, offering broad spectrum flexible disease control for cereal crops.

For more information about these products please visit adama.com/en/our-solutions


At T1, secure your wheat’s full potential. Many diseases can damage your crop’s yield potential at T1. So it’s critical to get the timing right, and choose the best broad-spectrum fungicide to keep your crop protected up to T2.

Protect against the broad-spectrum of T1 diseases Potential yield loss from disease in your crop*: up to

50

%

Septoria

up to

30

%

Eyespot

Protect up to T2, even in adverse weather

up to

up to

50

20

%

Yellow Rust

%

Mildew

Leaf

3

3-4 weeks protection Aviator 235Xpro keeps your crop clean of all major diseases, limits disease progression and protects emerging upper leaves. When targeting final leaf 3 emergence, use Aviator 1.0 L/ha + multi-site.

For the best T1 performance, get the timing right at leaf 3 Watch our video on identifying leaf 3 emergence by visiting cropscience.bayer.co.uk/leaf3 or searching online for ‘leaf 3 emergence’

* Source: AHDB, https://cereals.ahdb.org.uk/cereal-disease-encyclopedia/diseases.aspx Aviator 235Xpro contains prothioconazole and bixafen. Aviator and Xpro 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. © Bayer CropScience Limited 2018


ARABLE: Member Profile – Stevenson Brothers, Essex 7

GETTING FULL VALUE FROM MEMBERSHIP Tom Stevenson

Stevenson Brothers

Tom Stevenson of Stevenson Brothers, a large farming business in Essex, purchases approximately £500,000 of inputs annually through Fram Farmers. Tom farms with his father, Allan, and uncles Robert, Peter and Andrew. The business includes 600ha of arable crops and a 300-sow pig unit in the family’s own name, plus 800ha on contract for three other farmers, all Fram Farmers’ members. Cropping includes 615ha of feed wheat, 260ha of spring beans, 220ha of spring barley, 160ha of oilseed rape and 150ha of potatoes for Marks & Spencer and Waitrose, together with King Edwards for export to the Canary Islands. He outlines the benefits of membership. “We joined Fram Farmers in 1987, initially to obtain better prices and reduce administration, but subsequently have enjoyed a much wider range of benefits and services. The concept of separating advice from product purchasing is very powerful, whether in the form of independent agronomy or consulting Fram Farmers’ specialists for an impartial opinion. Now we purchase most key inputs through the cooperative, including fertiliser, agrochemicals, seed, fuel, wearing parts, soya, veterinary medicines and, most recently, insurance Outsourcing purchasing to a trusted, fully-transparent third party which has our best interests at heart, and constantly

benchmarks prices to ensure that they remain highly competitive, allows me to focus on managing a business which is complex and demands excellent organisation. It is far more productive to spend my time working closely with our contract farming and trade customers rather than dealing with numerous suppliers. It’s easy to pick up the ‘phone to Fram Farmers because they know who I am and what I want to achieve. I can depend on their product specialists to obtain the best deal, and order over the ‘phone or on-line when it suits me. There’s also a huge time and cost advantage to having one supplier, because it means just one monthly invoice to process. Doing everything ourselves would require at least half a person’s time, so the membership fee is covered many times over. Fram Farmers also provides access to manufacturers’ rebates that are refunded in full, which would be unlikely if buying through a distributor. As manufacturers and distributors become larger and more powerful, it is vital that farmers do the same through an organisation which is fully transparent and works solely in their interests. CROP PROTECTION All our crop protection products are sourced through Fram Farmers, which has a much better insight into what is happening in the global market and UK supply trade than any individual farming business. The UK is small and insignificant to some global manufacturers, so support is a major advantage in terms of securing key products at competitive prices. Going into this spring, for example,

Amongst other crops, Stevenson Brothers grow potatoes for Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and for export.

there was a potential supply issue with chlorothalonil; as soon as we were made aware of this, I worked with my agronomists to develop fungicide programmes to mitigate any potential supply issues and forward-ordered the relevant products. Although I am BASIS and FACTS qualified, we work closely with Prime Agriculture, a firm of independent agronomy specialists, across most of the farmed area. Covering another block of land, Bruce Hill, a second independent agronomist, allows us to compare thoughts and recommendations. It is a huge advantage that they both have direct access to the Fram Farmers’ Arable Inputs Team and can discuss issues such as product pricing and availability directly with them before sending me their recommendations.

Tom uses two agronomists, both with direct access to the Fram Farmers’ Arable Inputs team.

FERTILISER All fertiliser is ordered through Fram Farmers. The pools ensure that we are in the market right through the purchasing season and get the best prices without having to constantly watch the market ourselves. Across the business, we buy 270 tonnes of urea, 200 tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate and 100 tonnes of Sulphur blend annually. Most of our Nitrogen requirement is urea because we can choose from more suppliers and there is a price advantage, but the market is very volatile and timing purchases correctly is critical, which is why we rely on Annie Buckingham (Fram Farmers’ Fertiliser Buyer) to advise us when to buy. SEED Mostly we save our own cereal seed, which is processed by Anglia Grain Services who invoice us through Fram Farmers. Each year we buy 30 to 40 tonnes of combinable crop seed through the cooperative, including most of our spring seed, because several malting barley customers prefer that. We trust Fram Farmers to give completely honest, independent advice and secure the best prices.


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Now By ooooo

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ARABLE: Member Profile – Stevenson Brothers, Essex 9

FUEL We have enough tank capacity to store a third of our annual 180,000 litres requirement, so we purchase it when a Fram Farmers’ product specialist advises. WEARING PARTS There are significant price advantages to purchasing wearing metal through Fram Farmers, whether directly or through a supplier, as the cooperative is often able to negotiate discounts which as individual farmers we might not get. INSURANCE We have used several insurance providers in the past and normally go out to tender every three years to ensure that service and price stay competitive. When Fram Farmers became involved in insurance, one of the staff visited us with Andrew Thompson of Andrew Thompson &

Associates to assess our requirements and ensure that the quote covered our requirements fully. They found that in some areas we were covered twice under different policies and quoted 20 per cent less than we had been paying. In the first year we had no claims, but in year two we had a number, including a combine fire. The company which carried out the repairs was very complimentary about how the insurer dealt with them and the whole process was very smooth. ELECTRICITY AND ‘PHONES We use a lot of electricity, mainly to keep the potato stores cool and pig buildings well ventilated. Switching to Fram Farmers five years ago saved us over 10 per cent, which was significant, but this whole subject is a minefield for those not involved in it full time. Being able to deal with Julia Bryson (Fram Farmers’ Electricity Buyer) is very helpful, saves a lot of time and minimises the hassle. Smart Meters provide automatic and exact billing rather than us having to read meters at multiple sites or

being billed on estimated figures. Changing our landlines to Fram Farmers almost halved our monthly bill!

MACHINERY HIRE Until now we have only hired small ancillary items, but now that it has become so important to keep fixed costs in check, it might be time to consider whether hiring machinery rather than buying would benefit our business.”

CLEVELAND POTASH MINE SWITCHES FROM POTASH TO POLYHALITE PRODUCTION Cleveland Potash Limited announced in January that potash production at its Boulby mine in Cleveland is expected to end in six months as the transition to mining polyhalite is completed. A business unit of ICL Fertilizers, the company says the move is vital to secure the mine’s future. Boulby mine is the world’s only producer of polyhalite, a new

naturally occurring mineral fertiliser which is produced and sold under the trade name Polysulphate™. Polyhalite is found over 1,200 metres under the North Sea. Cleveland Potash mines the substance from the polyhalite layer of rock which was deposited 260 million years ago. In September 2010, it reached the main seam with samples being brought to the surface for the first

Polysulphate™ comes from the natural mineral polyhalite: K2Ca2Mg(SO4)4 • 2H2O

48% SO3 (19.2% S) As sulphate, essential constituent of all proteins

14% K2O (11.6% K) As potassium sulphate, secures yield and quality

6% MgO (3.6% Mg) As magnesium sulphate, for high photosynthesis

POLYSULPHATE BENEFITS

17% CaO (12.2% Ca) As calcium sulphate, for strong and healthy crops

time. With potash reserves dropping globally, the company says there has never been a better time to mine this exciting new product. Polyhalite is a soluble, easilyabsorbed, cost-effective, multi-nutrient fertiliser which is available in its natural state. There are no chemical processes, meaning that it is a fully organic, sustainable fertiliser with a low environmental footprint. Low in chloride and crop safe, it is suitable for use alone or in blends and compound fertiliser. Available as both a granular and powder product, Polysulphate contains four key plant nutrients which are readily available and ensure increased crop yields with improved crop quality. The 2-4mm granular product has excellent spreading characteristics and make it ideal to apply alongside straight nitrogen. The company says that UK field trials have shown a 40% yield improvement with the application of Polysulphate, which is particularly suitable for crops that prefer low levels of chloride in the soil, and where higher dry-matters are desired in potatoes. For further details contact Annie Buckingham, Fertiliser Buyer, Fram Farmers 01728 727715 Annie.Buckingham@framfarmers.co.uk framfarmers.co.uk


This is what Septoria looks like inside your wheat leaf

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ELATUS™ ERA

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Syngenta UK Ltd. Registered in England No. 849037. CPC4, Capital Park, Fulbourn, Cambridge CB21 5XE Tel: 01223 883400 Fax: 01223 882195 Email: customer.services@syngenta.com Web: www.syngenta.co.uk ELATUS™ ERA is a trademark of a Syngenta Group Company. ELATUS ERA (MAPP 17889) contains benzovindiflupyr and prothioconazole. Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label and product information before use. For further product information including warning phrases and symbols refer to www.syngenta.co.uk ©Syngenta AG January 2017. GQ06948.


ARABLE: Agronomist Profile - Paul Sweeney, Cheshire 11

CHANGING AND CHALLENGING TIMES IN THE NORTH WEST as livery yards, property and transport. Often that completely alters their approach to farming. Naturally, they want to focus on what produces the greatest return, so spend as little time as possible farming. I now spend less time providing agronomic services and more helping clients to prioritise their objectives. My job has become far more involved, because every situation is different and requires very specific recommendations. Twenty or thirty years ago, most farms had an intensive enterprise, be it livestock, potatoes or field-scale vegetables, but the number has dropped dramatically. Often the high investment cannot be justified at a time of diminishing returns when the land limits crops’ yield and quality. Consequently many choose to simplify their system to reduce financial exposure.

A farm advisor and independent agronomist for more than 30 years, Cheshire-based Paul Sweeney works with many Fram Farmers’ members in the North West.

“Separating the technical issues of growing crops from commercial input purchasing decisions is vital for farming businesses, to reduce growing costs in a changing and challenging environment,” says Paul. “This is why the combination of independent agronomists working with Fram Farmers works so well at a time of major change in the farming industry. Farming here in the North West is going through evolution and change because of significant economic pressures and shifts in weather patterns. Arable farms are becoming more extensive and simplified, those in the dairy sector are becoming larger and more intensive. In South Lancashire farming is on a knife edge from an economic, physical and environmental perspective. The area is exclusively arable, very flat and much is pump drained. The big issues are that

much of the fertile peat has disappeared, the remaining soil is becoming workedout, limiting crop yields and quality, and the Environment Agency wants to divest responsibility for keeping the area drained. This has seen a shift from high-value crops such as potatoes and field-scale vegetables to cereals and grass. Some farmers are just ‘hanging on’, particularly tenants with high rents. PUSHED TO DIVERSIFY Cheshire is more of a mixed farming county, with arable farms interspersed with dairy units. Land is more fragmented, values and rents are high, while profitability is under severe pressure because of rising input costs combined with static or declining yields and crop prices. A large farm is 800-1000 acres, and most are 400-500 acres, but they cannot expand because of a lack of land on the market and high prices. It’s very difficult for those who rely solely on farming, so nearly all my clients have diversified in some significant way, such

WET WEATHER PROBLEMS Climate change is becoming a major factor. One year in five we are deluged with rain, and this season it fell on 60 of 90 days in September, October and November. Only 25% of autumn crops in South Lancashire were drilled and many of those were ‘muddled in’, so they are on the back foot. In Cheshire, only about 30% of crops were autumn drilled, compared with 70% normally. Unpredictable weather makes it impossible to plan forward with any certainty. Of course, we must, and four years out of five it works out roughly as planned, but we have to adapt to the conditions which unfold during the season. That often means not being able to earlyorder seed, fertiliser and crop protection. My job is to help clients to be profitable and tailor what they spend on inputs to the crop’s potential. In a wet season such as this, where some land is still waterlogged going into spring, it could even mean questioning whether it is worth drilling any crop. If it is, the amount spent on inputs must be very carefully monitored to ensure it’s justified.”

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ARABLE: Supplier Update - Fungicide 13

SURVEY SHOWS WHEAT GROWERS MAY HAVE UNDERESTIMATED SEPTORIA THREAT LAST SEASON Most growers believed their wheat crops to be cleaner than they were in 2017, which could have compromised control of Septoria tritici at the key T2 timing.

Matthew Keane BASF Agronomy Manager, Suffolk

These findings came from a recent study carried out by BASF. The work examined the infection status of Septoria tritici in commercial wheat crops across the UK and compared the results with growers’ perception of disease levels in those crops. Two sets of samples were collected, one a random selection of the top two leaves (flag leaf and leaf 2), and the other of the bottom two leaves (leaf 3 and 4). All fields had already received T0 and T1 fungicides, so generally looked clean. At the same time, growers were asked if they thought their crops were clean, or infected with Septoria. The leaf samples were assessed for visual disease, and by DNA testing we could identify whether spores had landed on the leaf but had not yet infected it, or whether the disease was starting to colonise the leaves causing a latent infection. This is when disease is present inside the leaf but does not show visible symptoms. The results showed that at the time of the T2 application, 90% of lower leaves were infected with Septoria, although this was often not visible. Of the upper leaves, almost two-thirds (64%) were infected, although nearly all was latent infection. However, six out of 10 growers taking part in the study believed their crops were clean from top to bottom which is perhaps not surprising given that they had already applied two fungicide treatments, but the analysis clearly shows no matter how green a crop looks pre-T2, the chances are Septoria is present.

In nearly all cases, crops are in a curative situation at T2, whatever our eyes tell us. It is the first time we’ve gathered real data to illustrate the gap between perception and reality and this matters, because it suggests fungicide choice and therefore efficacy at the all-important T2 timing could be compromised. Knowing this, we can select the correct chemistry that offers good kickback against latent Septoria infection as well as strong protectant activity against future attacks. Xemium is the most curative of the SDHIs, and also offers excellent protection, so is the right choice in any season. Librax (Xemium + metconazole) in particular showed exceptional curative properties against Septoria last year, which is why we recommend it at T2, after Adexar (Xemium + epoxiconazole) at T1. The latter though also remains an excellent T2 choice.

In conclusion, it is worth remembering that 2017 was a low- or late-disease year, depending on region. Given that most wheat crops were in a curative situation at T2, it follows that even more would be in a more normal or high disease pressure year. “Clean crops” are likely to be very scarce indeed in any season, a factor worth bearing in mind when planning your fungicide programmes in the coming weeks.

For more information about these products please visit www.agriculture.basf.com/en.html


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ARABLE: Member profile – Porters Farms, Suffolk 15

FARMING AND ENVIRONMENT HAND IN HAND

Porters Farms (Walpole) Ltd in Suffolk take a holistic approach to the business of farming profitably. Farming and the environment go hand in hand, says farmer and environmentalist Mike Porter. “My grandfather bought Hillhouse Farm in 1912, and by 1954 it consisted of 202ha with 16 employees,” Mike explains. “It was highly selfsufficient, with horses fed hay from the farm for horsepower, and cattle fed home-grown barley providing the muck. My father expanded the cropping to include feed and malting barley, wheat, red clover, beans, oats, sugar beet and meadow fescue.

PV panels on the roof of the new grain store.

A few years ago, I realised we’d lost that self-sufficiency element. Today, we farm 325ha of our own and 178ha for two neighbours. Our land is run with Integrated Farm Management in mind and includes a regular rotation. In 2017 we produced 143ha of winter wheat, 43ha of winter oilseed rape, linseed, spring naked oats and vining peas.

We are members of many organisations, including the NFU, Red Tractor Scheme, PVGA, LEAF, LEAF Marque and PGRO. We’ve also carried out considerable research for the Birds Eye Sustainable Pea Project and the Forum for Sustainable Farming. On our own farm we entered ELS in 2005 and HLS in May 2007. Each year we host visits for children from a primary school in East Anglia, supported by The Country Trust. The farm encompasses ELS/HLS margins, areas for pollen and nectar production, wild bird cover, woods, plus conservation areas and ponds. We’ve been involved with the RSPB Farmer Alliance bird survey, and organisations such as the British Trust for Ornithology, Game Conservancy and Defra come here to study the winter feeding of birds, while the Suffolk Wildlife Trust has researched moths and butterflies. The farm has many wetlands and woodland habitats, developed over 28 years, including 6.3ha of woods and 3.4km of hedges. Our 25 ponds are actively managed, with many producing coarse fish for local fisheries. Hedges are specifically managed and cut every other year to give birds sufficient food for the winter. Natural nesting sites are supplemented with man-made nest boxes which cater for most species, including barn owl, tree sparrow, kestrel, tits and even bats. Five varieties of wild orchid flower on the farm.” DIVERSIFICATION PAYS “Much has been done to improve the farm’s environmental credentials, but we’ve chosen not to invest in an AD plant, as the

maize feedstock would be harvested late and damage our heavy land. A new 2,000-tonne grain store was installed in 2010 with a 450Kw biomass boiler burning rape straw to heat water for two radiators, providing heated air at 9°C above ambient. The capital cost was £15,000, ten times a gas boiler, but the project broke even in 2012 and uses just 40 to 60 Hesston-style bales of linseed straw per year instead of £60,000 of LPG. Our LEAF Audit puts our carbon footprint at 57 tonnes and at 12.9p/ unit our electricity cost is under half what it was in October 2007. Our annual water consumption is 180 m3, including the house, costing £320. Gas oil consumption is more difficult to calculate, as the grain drier also uses it, but in 2016 we burned just 28,600 litres (58 litres/hour) compared with 43,500 litres (110 litres/hour) in 2012.

Mike and James Porter next to their two 70,000-litre rainwater storage tanks.

In 2011, we installed a rainwater harvesting system with two 70,000-litre tanks. Water is cheap but might not always be so, and it is right from an environmental point of view. With energy costs rising sharply in 2011, we installed 252 Photo Voltaic (PV) panels on the new grain store. They produce up to 46.2kWh for our requirements and a surplus for the National Grid, and should generate £12,000 annually in FIT payments, paying for itself after six years. We’re increasing the amount of electricity generated on farm and are becoming self-sufficient. In 2015, when we installed another 25kW of PV panels on a building, we generated over 60,000 kWh and exported 40,000 kWh. The following year 62,504 kWh was generated and 53,276 kWh exported. Ultimately, we hope to store surplus power in batteries and are working with Fram Farmers to investigate this.”


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Brexit 17

WILL IT BE SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST POST-BREXIT? Carl Atkin

Terravost

Unwinding our 43-year involvement with Europe means that Brexit will have major impacts on the structure and competitiveness of the UK agri-food industry. That was the message given by Carl Atkin, director of international agribusiness management and consultancy business Terravost Limited, to Fram Farmers’ members at the North West annual meeting. This is a very short summary of what he had to say. The full article will be posted on the Fram Farmers’ website. “Our domestic agricultural sector is very dependent on financial support. Pillar 1 and 2 payments under the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy account for around GBP 3.1 billion annually, i.e. most of British farms’ ‘profit’, without which many would not be viable. Therefore, it is understandable why everyone is getting hung up on support payments, but that’s a bit like putting the cart before the horse. Until we know our future trading relationship with the EU, it is difficult to accurately assess the amount of support the industry will need and how it should best be delivered. Even in the best-case scenario with single market access there will still be friction. Even Norway, which has the closest arrangement with the EU without being a member, doesn’t have a free trade deal in place for agriculture, so this area will inevitably be difficult in any scenario. At the time of writing (1 Feb 2018) even a Cabinet discussion on the future trading relationship has yet to start. The deal is unlikely to be done before March 2019, but it looks like we will have some form of transitional deal to December 2020. We know that Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments will continue for 2018 as usual under EU rules and EU payments. Funding for 2019 is guaranteed by HMT, but if we leave the EU part-way through 2019 it may be a nationally administered scheme. What will UK farm policy look like after 2024? Support for marginal areas and more Pillar 2 type schemes seem the most likely outcome and are the industry consensus opinion. Here are some of my thoughts:

• It is fair to assume little or no change to regulation.

• What happens to industry structure and profitability will depend very much on the final trade deal we end up with. • The industry should become more polarised.

• If the UK gets good single market access for agricultural commodities, farm gate prices will be little affected. • If not, prices will fall in sectors where we are surplus producers, such as wheat, oilseed rape and lamb.

• The NFU is pushing strongly for a UKwide approach, but agricultural policy is fully devolved, so Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could go off in quite different directions to England.

• Defra is likely to be strongly led by industry, as they have little capacity to develop policies internally.

• If payments are more linked to specific environmental deliverables, then there is less of an argument to cap them. • There could be a softening of land prices and rents, since direct support payments capitalise themselves in the land.

• Profitability pressures should cause restructuring, but don’t underestimate the resilience and inertia within the industry.

It is currently very difficult to see the detailed direction and impact of Brexit, and difficult to make strategic decisions on farms, but the fittest businesses are the most likely to survive whatever the outcome, so: • Continue to strive for the highest standards of technical and operational excellence. Although this should be taken as read there are still massive technical inefficiencies, especially in some sectors. • Focus on managing volatility – risk management is critical.

• Be cautious and sensible over longterm investment decisions, especially in less robust sectors.

• Review all land and farming agreements – are they Brexit proof? Can your business structure withstand a step change in profitability? • Maximise asset use and broaden income streams where sensible – so long as the business is properly resourced and has adequate management competences to do so.” For further details contact Carl Atkin, Terravost Limited T: 01223 828220 M: 07810 290511 carl.atkin@terravost.com terravost.com

Fram Farmers’ member Graham Warburton, Senior Partner of Warburtons Farms in Cheshire, attended our North West Area meeting and listened to Carl Atkin speak. Shown here second from the right with members of his team, he commented: “Carl’s presentation on Brexit made a complicated, constantly evolving subject much easier to understand. It was a very worthwhile and informative evening.”


18 Staff Profiles

MEET THE NEW MEMBERS OF THE FRAM FARMERS’ TEAM Kerry Banks, who joined Fram Farmers’ Livestock Team as an Animal Health Specialist in October, has always loved animals. Born in Coventry, Kerry achieved an NVQ Level 2 & 3 in Veterinary Nursing from Warwickshire College, then worked in a mixed veterinary practice in Nuneaton for seven years. Subsequently, she gained a degree in Veterinary Nursing, and a Diploma in Advanced Veterinary Nursing at Harper Adams University. She also has C-SQP and R-SQP status from AMTRA, enabling her to prescribe and/or supply all NFA-VPS and POM-VPS medicines. Moving to Norfolk with her partner in 2016, she worked as a locum in veterinary practices all over the county, still mainly with companion animals. Her real love, however, has always been large animals and she enjoys working with farmers. She states: “This role has turned out to be exactly what I wanted, because it enables me to use my veterinary nursing knowledge in agriculture.” Kerry’s main hobby is shooting, mainly clay pigeons, and she is a member of the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club, a femaleonly shooting organisation which organises ‘clay shooting events for ladies’.

Contact Kerry Banks: T: 01728 727700 E: Kerry.Banks@framfarmers.co.uk

Contact Nick Millar: T: 01728 727700 E: Nick.Millar@framfarmers.co.uk

Prior to joining Fram Farmers in December, Nick Millar spent most of his working life in the building supply trade. When Nick left school, he followed his two brothers into the roofing sector, becoming yard foreman and transport manager for a company in North London. He then managed a roofing merchant in Leyton, and subsequently worked in various roles in London and Essex. Looking for a less frenetic environment, Nick and his wife Sara moved from Epping to Bungay in Suffolk last August. The couple, who have three sons and one granddaughter, have already seen the benefits of living in the country. He adds: “I’ve always been very service driven and negotiating to get the best deals has always been a satisfying part of what I have done, as it is at Fram Farmers. Working for a cooperative where the prices invoiced are the same as we buy at makes it very different. I’m here to help with information on building materials, so feel free to contact me.” Nick’s interests include geology, rugby union, fishing and family history. With over 2,500 ‘45s’ and 300 ‘LPs’ Nick enjoys nothing more on a Sunday than settling down in a comfy chair with a glass of wine and one of his favourite records playing.

CUTS COSTS, NOT CORNERS Not every farm needs the most advanced technology - but that doesn’t mean they should have to make do with a lesser product. So the new Puma X has everything you’d expect in a Puma – innovative design, reliable engineering, high quality materials – but with a simpler specification and at a lower price. Puma X. Don‘t compromise on quality.

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Information Technology 19

MEMBERS RECEIVE NEW FEATURE IN FARMPLAN BUSINESS MANAGER Fram Farmers has been working closely with Farmplan over the last few months to create and test a new feature for the company’s Business Manager software, designed to help streamline accounts management. Incorporated in the latest version of the programme, it allows those who operate this system to input their monthly e-statement easily. “Until eighteen months ago all Members received paper statements a costly and laborious process for both parties,” Ian Caley, Group Accountant at Fram Farmers, states. “To improve efficiency, we developed a process whereby Members who wanted to get statements and invoices by email could do so. To date, just over 50 per cent of Members have taken up this option and receive their monthly statements only in an electronic format. “This process was taken a stage further in October, by providing the e-statements as a csv file which contains all the information we capture from invoices, so Members could upload it directly into their farm accounts software. “Our simplified accounting procedures

already provide Members with real savings in terms of time and money. This latest development is simply the next step in improving our processes and enabling them to save even more time and effort whilst managing their accounts records.” Sally Ashwell, Farmplan Product Coordinator adds, “It’s this new csv file that users of Business Manager can import straight in to our software. In just

a few clicks you can view all invoice information, helping to make accounts management easier. We’re delighted to be working with Fram Farmers on this project as it will bring additional time savings to Members who use Farmplan Business Manager.” If you are interested in finding out more about this Business Manager software, please call Farmplan on 01594 545000.

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Farmers First Issue 47 - Spring 2018  

News from Fram Farmers, the UK's leading farming cooperative

Farmers First Issue 47 - Spring 2018  

News from Fram Farmers, the UK's leading farming cooperative