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Est 1982

January 2021





Building business success


A clear focus on maximising natural resources has seen an estate expand to become one of the South East’s leading suppliers to Europe’s largest milk cooperative, ARLA

Farming is changing like never before. The opportunities are out there. CLM offers new ideas with traditional values.

Let’s stop all this faffing about

OUT & ABOUT KINGSCLERE ESTATES We meet a regenerative farmer to learn more about his sustainable model of share farming and land management

• Farm business & estate management • Subsidies & grants • Land sales & acquisition • Planning & development • Natural capital & ecology 01892 770339 www.c-l-m.co.uk




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It all happens... 25th January to 4th February 2021



J ANUARY 2 0 2 1

25 05 06 08 10


Business is booming for manufacturer. Board is “no longer serving its members”. A more detailed look at the live exports issue. UK Grown Soya – a local revolution.






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Let’s stop all this faffing about. Nigel Akehurst visits Kingsclere Estates in North Hampshire to meet managing director and regenerative farmer Tim May to learn more about his sustainable model of share farming and land management.








Laments the fact that a litre of premium bottled natural water sells for as much as two to three times the price of every litre of the milk his herd used to produce.





A clear focus on making the best use of natural resources has seen a 200 year old family estate expand to become one of the South East’s leading suppliers to Europe’s largest milk cooperative, ARLA.



A good reputation is the best possible marketing tool when it comes to building business success – but sometimes a reputation can stick a little too tightly.

Fingers crossed for 2021.

How fertile is your bull?


www.southeastfarmer.net SOUTH EAST FARMER Kelsey Media, The Granary, Downs Court Yalding Hill, Yalding, Maidstone, Kent, ME18 6AL 01959 541444 EDITORIAL Editor: Malcolm Triggs Email: sef.ed@kelsey.co.uk Photography: Martin Apps, Countrywide Photographic PUBLISHER Jamie McGrorty 01303 233883 jamie.mcgrorty@kelsey.co.uk AD PRODUCTION Studio Manager: Jo Legg jo.legg@kelsey.co.uk Graphic Designer: James Pitchford TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883


Kelsey Media 2020 © all rights reserved. Kelsey Media is a trading name of Kelsey Publishing Ltd. Reproduction in whole or in part is forbidden except with permission in writing from the publishers. Note to contributors: articles submitted for consideration by the editor must be the original work of the author and not previously published. Where photographs are included, which are not the property of the contributor, permission to reproduce them must have been obtained from the owner of the copyright. The editor cannot guarantee a personal response to all letters and emails received. The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the Editor or the Publisher. Kelsey Publishing Ltd accepts no liability for products and services offered by third parties. Kelsey Media takes your personal data very seriously. For more information of our privacy policy, please visit Kelsey Media takes your personal data very seriously. For more information of our privacy policy, please visit https://www.kelsey.co.uk/privacy-policy/ . If at any point you have any queries regarding Kelsey’s data policy you can email our Data Protection Officer at dpo@kelsey.co.uk.

www.kelsey.co.uk Cover picture: Monica Akehurst


Complex stories behind the headlines


As an ‘old-school’ journalist I am generally proud of my profession and its efforts to keep people informed, although I can see its faults and I have always been cognisant of the fact that there is inevitably more to the story than is covered in the particular angle taken by the reporter. The clue to journalism’s imperfections lies in the fact that as soon as you have a detailed knowledge of any particular subject, you instantly spot the errors in any story you read on that subject. It surely follows, then, that stories in which you don’t have a particular interest are equally limited and open to error. I mention this only because the media’s take on live exports from Ramsgate in Kent is one of those cases where reporters inevitably take the “poor fluff y baa lambs” angle rather than looking in more detail at the rather more complex story behind the headline. It’s true that no-one would ever argue in favour of animal suffering, but as Alan West points out in this edition, there are lots of bigger issues that tend to be ignored. There is, though, something that can be done about it. The RSPCA may be cock-a-hoop about what they think they have achieved, but DEFRA is currently only asking for views on a proposal to end live exports, which gives those with a detailed knowledge of the subject – livestock farmers across the country – an opportunity to put across their point of view. It seems unlikely that the department will be swayed far from its headline ambition, but the full document includes plenty of other whacky ideas that really do need to be examined more carefully by farmers who understand the industry better than the boffins, pen-pushers and renta-mob protestors whose opinions will otherwise hold sway. So you can make a difference and alter the story, but don’t leave it to someone else. Tier 4 restrictions mean more time at home for many of us, so set aside an hour or so over the next couple of weeks to read the document and take the time to respond. Don’t let the vociferous few outmuscle the industry experts who know the true story. One thing we would all like a bit more news about, of course, is Brexit and its impact on our livelihoods. It seems remarkable that as South East Farmer goes to press, we have fewer details on our future trading links with Europe than there were toilet rolls in supermarkets at the start of the first lockdown. Brinkmanship is all very well – although to credit our politicians with such skills is perhaps to glamourise what should really be called incompetence – but the fact remains that farmers need to plan for the future, whatever it may hold. While the negotiators talk about a “level playing field”, the real issue is that we don’t even know where the playing field is – or what game we are playing when MALCOLM TRIGGS - EDITOR we get there.

EMAIL YOUR VIEWS, LETTERS OR OPINIONS TO: sef.ed@kelsey.co.uk or write to the address on page 3 ®


“The time for talking is over”. That was the strong message from Sussex tenant farmer Mark Peters as farming prepares to enter a new era without a clear idea of what the future holds. Mark, who farms at Plashett Park Farm, Ringmer, near Lewes, is one of many farmers who are anxious to know the details behind DEFRA’s Agricultural Transition Plan. Like the industry in general, Mark broadly welcomes the change in the way the grant system will switch from area-based subsidies to public money for public goods, but has stressed the need for more clarity on how the change will be handled. As South East Chairman of the Tenant Farmers Association, he shares the TFA’s view that farmers remain “very worried” about the lack of detail behind the transition. “Things needed to change, but we need more clarity on how they are going to change. We are days away from the changeover and we still don’t know how the two schemes will dovetail with each other,” he said. Mark, who, as AR Peter and Son, rears 2,000 calves a year for beef as well as growing arable and forage crops on 800 hectares of rented land, receives an annual Countryside Stewardship Scheme payment currently worth around £36,000 and needs to know how that will be affected by the transition arrangements. “We signed up to a big HLS scheme in 2009 which is currently extended until 30 June 2021,” he said. “At the moment we don’t know how the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMS) will look or whether we should go into another stewardship scheme. We just need some detail so we can make a decision – and we need it over the next couple of months. The time for talking is over.” TFA National Chairman Mark Coulman explained: “There is broad acceptance that we need to change the way farmers are rewarded by reallocating money paid through the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) into schemes targeting public benefits, productivity and resilience. However, the announcement made by DEFRA tells us, with great clarity, how much we will be losing in terms of the BPS without giving anything like the detail needed to understand how this can be recouped through the new schemes.” By 2024, all current recipients of BPS will have seen their payments reduced by at least half, and while they will be given access to new schemes, no details of the payments available have been released. “We have been over four years discussing these policy changes and with only days to go before the plan comes into effect in January, it is inexcusable that we find ourselves in the position of lacking much of the essential detail,” Mark said. “We need to have very early engagement with DEFRA on how the new schemes will be rolled out so that farm businesses have the information needed to plan. Apart from what we know we are losing, the way ahead is far from clear. “It’s good that DEFRA has taken on board the need to learn lessons from current schemes and to develop an approach to payments to provide a fair return to participants, because otherwise ELMS would fail to deliver its objectives. We look forward to working with DEFRA on developing the payment mechanisms. This work must start immediately.”


95% RECEIVE PAYMENTS More than 95% of farmers received their 2020 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) cash on the first day of the payment window, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has confirmed. The Agency said approximately £1.67 billion had been paid to farmers for BPS on the first day of the payment window, while eligible farmers were issued Countryside Stewardship (CS) revenue payments totalling £40m. It added that Environmental Stewardship (ES) payments totalling £60m were expected to be paid within the first few days of the window. Those who claimed CS and ES agreements in 2020 will receive one full payment this year as part of a wider plan to deliver a better service to farmers and land managers. NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw welcomed the news, pointing out: “It is excellent that more than 95% of farmers have received their BPS payment on the first day of the payment window.

“This year has been one of the most challenging for farmers up and down the country and I would like to congratulate the RPA on getting these much-needed payments out the door. “It’s also very encouraging that the first Countryside Stewardship scheme payments have been made, as well as payments for those in Environmental Stewardship HLS agreements. “This is another example of the RPA demonstrating improved delivery performance, which will continue to be critical as we head towards the introduction of new schemes during the agricultural transition period. “Of course, we must not lose sight of the 5% who have yet to receive their payment for BPS and the substantial amount of agri-environment payments the RPA still needs to deliver. I would urge the RPA to ensure those claimants are kept informed of progress so they can manage their cash flow appropriately and see these payments made in a timely manner.”


Business is booming for South East-based agricultural machinery manufacturer Ktwo, which has announced a five-year partnership with a North American importer. Ktwo, which has factories in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire and Shirrell Health, Hampshire, was founded in 1988 and has enjoyed year-on-year growth. It employs more than 70 people and is now recruiting to help support its growth, particularly in relation to the export deal with the States. In early 2020 Ktwo was approached by several companies across America and Canada that were looking for a manufacturer with the capacity and experience to fulfil their need for strong, large silage trailers to hold volumes of up to 75 cubic metres. “We could see big potential for our machines across North America,” explained Robbie Polson, Ktwo’s Managing Director, “and we are pleased

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to announce that we have secured a five-year partnership with an experienced and reputable importer to cover the region and grow our dealerships.” Ktwo has already grown its network in North America in recent months, with new dealers now covering Michigan, Minnesota, Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec. "We're excited to have Ktwo in Michigan,” said Blake Laethem of Farm Depot, which has locations across the state. “The innovative, yet simple design of Ktwo products will make them successful with our customers.” Cameron Currie, of Delta Power Equipment, which has multiple locations across Ontario, added: “When we choose new product lines they are carefully vetted by our sales, service and parts teams. It is important that we can support buyers from the first handshake

to the field. We are confident that farmers will be excited to get to know Ktwo in 2021.” Ktwo developed its popular Ktwo Roadeo Curve Trailers and increased the width from 2.5m to 3.2m wide specifically for North America in the summer. The largest Roadeo Curve Trailer being developed has four axles and two steering axles to cope with the larger size and capacity. Along with its large tipping trailers, Ktwo already has examples of its UK-leading Roadeo Compact and Push trailers operating in North America and has developed a broader range of manure spreaders. Its larger spreader range includes tandem axle horizontal and vertical beater machines which are being well received across America and Canada. The acquisition of Warwick Trailers in 2019 allowed Ktwo to increase its factory capacity and ability to offer a full trailer product range.






A five-year strategy to refocus the work of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has been described as “full of promises, but with no meat on the bones” by one of the group that has consistently challenged the levy board’s work in recent months. Simon Redden, one of the three Lincolnshire growers who have come to be known as the “AHDB Petitioners”, told South East Farmer that the board was no longer serving its members. “They should be putting money into the sector, not extracting it from us,” he added. Another petitioner, vegetable grower Peter Thorold, was equally straightforward. Referring to the recent announcement by Chief Executive Jane King that she would be stepping down over the coming year, he said that after listening to AHDB Chair Nicolas Saphir explaining the radical changes that lay ahead, “it's hard to see why Jane King can say she is leaving the AHDB in good shape”. The petitioners’ forthright views are at odds with the response from the National Farmers’ Union, whose president Minette Batters broadly welcomed the strategy’s “strong focus on food advocacy, farm business performance and technical advice”, areas she said the NFU had highlighted in its comments on the AHDB review. Flower grower Mr Redden, though, said that the 38-page document was thin on detail, particularly with regards to the horticulture and potatoes sectors, and was “full of empty promises with no substance”. He said that while farmers and exporters might feel differently, in those two sectors there was “nothing on the table to change the fact they have had 12 years taking our money and have only just realised what a terrible job they have done,” adding: “Why would you trust them any longer?” Mr Redden said that with the sector declining, approximately 10% fewer growers in horticulture had paid the levy in the past 12 months. As a major employer and contributor to the economy, he said, “horticulture needs money throwing at it, not extracted and wasted”. The AHDB says the strategy for 2021 to 2026 will focus on “significantly improving” engagement with levy payers and giving them more of a say on priorities for their sector and crop, including how much levy is collected and where it is spent. It adds that “delivering value for money and designing a modern levy system is at the heart of the future,

starting with horticulture and potatoes”. There is also a commitment to a ballot on the future of the levy every five years, ensuring levy payers have a greater say in designing AHDB work programmes and priorities. AHDB Chair Nicholas Saphir said the strategy and change programme demonstrated AHDB was listening and looking to build on the ‘five commitments’ it made in the wake of the Government’s Request for Views published last year. Looking to a future built around new farm support policies, changing consumer behaviours and new post-Brexit trading arrangements, the AHDB has stressed that it is committed to being well placed to deliver effectively for levy payers. Nicholas Saphir said: “We have listened very carefully to levy payers’ concerns about delivering value for money in such challenging times and ensuring our work programmes are fit for purpose. We fully recognise there are genuine differences between challenges facing sectors, crops and species and that one size of offering does not fit all. Levies in the future must be set to reflect the value provided and work priorities clearly agreed with levy payers. “In addition, AHDB will review the current tools, services and products across all its sectors to see how they are being used by farmers and growers.


We will keep listening to levy payers with open Board meetings and new levy payer user groups and by developing interaction both in person and online.” The board says using evidence to ensure facts, insight and data underpin all AHDB’s work will be key to the new strategy – “from ‘what works’ on farm to where opportunities exist for British product at home and overseas, identified with world class consumer insight”. It adds that improving and measuring the way best practice is shared across the industry will be the focus of a new AHDB Evidence For Farming initiative to support agricultural innovation, with a focus on the impact of environmental measures on business profitability. Ms Batters said the AHDB had “clearly listened to the industry, and its proposals to improve transparency and governance will be welcome news for many farmers and growers.” The full AHDB strategy and proposed sector plans are published for consultation and can be found online at ahdb.org.uk/strategy. Horticulture and potato levy payers can also find out more about the proposed changes to their levy system at ahdb.org.uk/strategy. The closing date for both consultations is 31 January 2021.



A Kent recruitment expert has welcomed late-breaking news that the Seasonal Workers Pilot scheme has been extended for 2021, with 30,000 visas available for those wanting to come and work on UK farms for a period of up to six months. As South East Farmer was preparing to go to press, DEFRA announced that along with extending the vital scheme it would also be building on this year’s Pick for Britain campaign and actively promoting the recruitment and retention of domestic seasonal workers in 2021. The industry had said it needed 80,000 workers to help ensure next year’s fruit and vegetable crops could be harvested, but Doug Amesz, managing director of Faversham, Kent-based AG Recruitment welcomed the 22 December announcement. “All things considered it’s a good number and something we can build on,” he said. “It’s a welcome announcement that should certainly allow the industry to be able to get through next year’s harvest. “What we do need, though, is for DEFRA to act quickly to set up the necessary procurement scheme so that the operators can get everything in place in order to have the right seasonal workers in the country and ready to go from mid-March.”

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ARABLE OPPORTUNITY Arable farmers in Hampshire and Oxfordshire have an opportunity to find farming fame by hosting the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)’s next ‘strategic cereal farm’. In the words of the AHDB, strategic cereal farms “test cutting-edge research and innovations, funded by AHDB and others, hosting a structured combination of short and long-term field and farm-scale demonstrations”. The board has three such operations near Stowmarket, Leamington Spa and Fife and is now looking across a number of counties, including Hampshire and Oxfordshire in the south of the country. Brian Barker, Strategic Cereal Farm East host, described it as “a fantastic opportunity to push your farming system to new limits”, adding: “You will be supported by AHDB knowledge exchange, as well as the extended research

community and supporting organisations, to challenge your approach and try new ideas to overcome challenges such as meeting net-zero, ELMS and producing more by applying less. “It is amazing how many positive thinkers, different scientific minds and industry leaders come up your farm drive.” Richard Meredith, the board’s head of arable knowledge exchange, said: “There is very little doubt that we are facing a period of unprecedented change. There will be challenges ahead and this is a time for growers to strive for excellence. We are continually proud about the impact that AHDB strategic cereal farms have had to help growers to achieve this.” Strategic Cereal Farms run for six years and usually host one or two on-farm meetings a year. They take part in communications activities throughout the year, sharing the development of their on-farm demonstrations.

For more information or to apply, visit: https://ahdb.org.uk/farm-excellence/recruitment The closing date is 18 January




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While the RSPCA was quick to announce “victory” after persuading DEFRA to launch a consultation on banning live exports from the UK, the farming community was understandably more cautious. Sheep farmer and South East Farmer correspondent Alan West was one of those who pointed out that the situation is not as simple as protestors or the media would like to suggest, with a lack of abattoir capacity in the South East possibly more of a challenge to animal welfare. “Live exports have been and always will be a contentious issue, with around 480,000 animlas exported each year for slaughter or finishing, a little less than 30% of the 1.72 million lambs produced in the UK each year,” he explained. “Of this number, quite a large proportion will be sheep and lambs exported to the Republic of Ireland, many from Scotland in a trade that has probably existed for more than 100 years.” Total live exports from Ramsgate in Kent are around 30,000 animals each year, including a significant number of calves, Alan said. “If 75% of this trade is of lambs, this represents a total live export trade for export of about 22,500 lambs, approximately 1.3% of UK lamb production. “While this is a relatively small proportion, there is a principle involved here. Live exports have always been a legitimate part of EU trade and really should, in my view, continue to be part of the crossChannel trade post-Brexit. “A lot of the criticism of the trade is based on either misinformation or disinformation, with problems generally caused by poor enforcement relating to onwards transit of animals destined for northern Europe, being diverted - often contrary to current legislation - to destinations in southern Europe. Current regulations are, if adequately enforced, more than adequate to ensure the health, welfare and safety of sheep being transported.” Alan pointed out that maximum journey times are usually eight hours, which is “more than adequate” to get sheep to an abattoir in Northern Europe. He went on: “Where journey times exceed eight hours by road, transporters must have their vehicles or livestock containers inspected and approved according to specific criteria; this includes on-vehicle drinking systems, ventilation

systems and temperature monitoring. If journeys are significantly longer, after 14 hours of travel a rest period of at least one hour must be given. This allows them to be fed, if necessary, and watered before being transported for a further 14 hours.” Alan maintained that one incident in 2012 which saw 40-odd sheep being euthanised followed a failure by the RSPCA and Trading Standards to manage the situation effectively. “It was the insistence on unloading the shipment into a temporary holding area with rough aggregate, totally unsuitable for sheep, that resulted in 40 sheep later being identified as being lame and several falling into an uncovered drain and drowning,” he said. Alan added that opponents of live exports had also ignored research carried out in the 1980s that looked at saliva cortisone levels as an indicator of stress in sheep and showed that there was something about the sea journey that sheep found “very relaxing, with observed saliva cortisone levels similar to when out grazing and lower than during normal transport”. He said the issue went beyond live sheep crossing the Channel, pointing out that since the 2001 closure of Marshall’s Abattoir at Lamberhurst, there had been no volume slaughtering capacity in the South East. “The post-Foot and Mouth review of abattoir capacity in the UK identified this gap, but it is an issue that has never been addressed,” Alan pointed out. “As a result, we have the ridiculous situation where lambs may be purchased in Ashford Market on a Tuesday, transported across the country to an abattoir in South Wales for killing and cutting on a Wednesday/Thursday before potentially returning to a supermarket a mile from the market by the weekend. “That’s a return journey of approximately 450


miles and eight to nine hours travelling time. A batch of lambs purchased on the same day out of Ashford could be delivered to an abattoir in Northern France, Belgium or Holland in less time. “If transport regulations and journey times are to be reviewed, the reviewing body needs to look at the wider implications and consider the issues on a national scale, particularly in terms of volume produced and the location of abattoir and meat processing facilities. If animal welfare is considered important and a public good, then there needs to be some sort of financial package to facilitate the necessary adjustments to the process.” The RSPCA said sheep and dairy calves were “exported from the UK overseas on gruelling journeys that can last tens of hours, exhausting the animals and causing suffering and even death”. The statement went on: “These long journeys can cause animals to suffer from fear, exhaustion and dehydration, temperature extremes and lack of food, water or rest. Their welfare is also no longer protected by the UK’s standards once they have left the ports, and they may be fattened or slaughtered in systems that would be illegal here in the UK.” RSPCA Chief Executive Chris Sherwood said: “We welcome and share the Government’s goal to ban live exports. There is absolutely no reasonable justification to subject an animal to an unnecessarily stressful journey abroad simply for them to be fattened for slaughter.” DEFRA’s call for views on “ending live animal exports for slaughter and fattening, starting in or transported through England or Wales, and on further improvements to animal welfare in transport” ends on 28 January. The survey is at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/transforming-farmanimal-health-and-welfare-team/improvementsto-animal-welfare-in-transport/


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There are many ways in which farming is set to change in the next few years, with the Brexit impact, new ways of providing support for environmental schemes and the drive to achieve carbon neutrality amongst them. But there is one less well-known but potentially important change that could soon transform the farming landscape in the South East – the arrival of a ‘new’ UK crop. UK based science writer Anthony Warner, who covers food, health and agriculture topics, is supporting a move to see more of the UK’s farmers growing soya, which is now being successfully grown in the UK for the first time. As we enter a new year, he told South East Farmer why he thinks this could be the start of a new era for growers. “Consumers find it hard to love soya,” he began. “Although most of us consider a bottle of the fermented sauce a kitchen essential, public perceptions of the plant are so intertwined with

GMOs, Brazilian rainforest clearance and the evils of global monocultures that many consider it a culinary taboo. “But the reality of soya, especially when grown outside of tropical regions, is actually quite different. It is an extraordinarily bountiful and efficient plant, producing more protein per hectare than any other staple crop. In rotation with wheat, it fixes its own nitrogen, improving soil and requiring far fewer chemical inputs than commonly grown alternatives such as canola or corn. “And ask a chef or product developer about soya, and they will tell you that as a food stuff for humans it has extraordinary versatility, producing flours, fermented tofus and the sort of high quality protein products capable of mimicking the texture of meat. That so much of the world’s crop is destined for livestock feed is one of the most perverse quirks of our global food system. “Far from being a great agricultural evil, as a


food for humans, soya is as close to a miracle plant as it is possible to be. Not only is it a nutritional powerhouse, almost every alternative requires more energy, more land and more chemistry to produce the same results.” Some farmers in this country are already growing soya, including Richard Cole, of E S and J M Cole, who farms near Diss in Norfolk, and Ramsey, Cambridgeshire-based Chris Dyer, of EP Brand Farmers (Ltd). Chris Dyer has now drilled the crop for two years, planting 60 acres the first year and then 120 acres the following season. While he can see a number of benefits – not least its impact on keeping black grass at bay – he feels there is still work to be done. “Last year we drilled at a rate of 55kg per acre, but while the crop looked amazing we only returned 0.7 tonnes per acre, which was disappointing and below the one tonne per acre we need to make money on the crop,” he said. “With soya there is no


> Harvesting soya on Richard Cole’s land

movement on the price so all you can do is increase the yield and I think we probably need a bit more breeding to be done if we are going to achieve that. It’s a late drilling crop, so it’s not for the fainthearted, but it certainly helps with reducing black grass. “Either the price needs to go up or we need a better yielding variety, but we are getting a great deal of support from David McNaughton at Soya UK, who is working incredibly hard to make soya succeed in the UK. The only other issue with soya is that pigeons seem to fly in from around the world to see it – but there are ways of dealing with that.” Although soya is not limited to the tropics, it requires a long photo-period to flower, thus restricting its range. “Until relatively recently, this has prevented the crop from growing in the UK,” explained Anthony Warner, “but newly developed varieties have enabled soya to be grown successfully across large parts of southern and central England. Prices have also doubled over the past 15 years, making soya a highly attractive option, especially with canola in decline. From virtually nothing in 2012, over 5,000 hectares of UK soya were grown in 2018, and the figure is increasing every year.” Anthony explained that soya varieties able to cope with the UK’s low temperatures and short days arrived here after pioneering agronomist David McNaughton travelled to Ukraine 25 years ago, seeking out near mythical varieties developed in secret by Soviet scientists during the Cold War. “Despite initial denials that any such plants

existed, eventually the cold-suitable soya plants were brought back and introduced to the UK. Initially it was a struggle to persuade farmers to try growing soya, but along with his Horticulturalist wife Jacqui, David embarked on a two-decade long campaign to introduce the benefits of soya into British crop rotations. Just 20 years after the first plants were grown in test fields, the quality and yield of the UK crop was matching anything in the world,” Anthony went on. “At a time when many farmers are crying out for new plants to grow in rotation with wheat, soya may well have arrived in the UK at just the right moment. “Pest, weed and price issues with oilseed rape, beet and peas are leaving few suitable options. Soya is a nitrogen-fixing plant which boosts the yield of the following crop but is also a highly productive and nutritious food in its own right. Unlike almost every other option, soya currently has almost no widespread pest or disease issues facing it and may provide a natural solution to the problem of black grass, an untreatable weed that is causing huge losses for British arable farmers.” Almost all of the UK crop is currently delivered to one site, a mill in Royston, Hertfordshire, that has been processing soya since the 1960s. Most of the beans coming into the plant are Canadian, but over the next few seasons, Soya UK hopes that locally grown soya will provide all of the mill’s requirement. “At the plant, owned by bakery supplier AB Mauri, beans are slowly steam cooked, dried, then ground into flour, which finds its way into the majority of UK bread production,” Anthony said. “Currently, all UK


soya disappears into the supply chain, anonymously combined with Canadian beans. “But AB Mauri have recently started to look beyond bread, creating a number of new products aimed at the increasingly competitive plant based foods market. Interest from manufacturers and retailers has been incredibly strong, with the first commercial plant based products containing UK grown soya due to hit stores early in 2021. “Perhaps the greatest advantage of these new ingredients is that the soya in them will be 100% UK grown, allowing the sort of on-pack provenance claims that are elusive in the current plant based market, which is dominated by North American protein isolates. UK soya is already an agricultural success story, but as it becomes visible to consumers, interest is likely to grow exponentially. “Thomas Jefferson once said that ‘the greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture’, but perhaps this famous quote needs a slight revision. For although any new crop is a precious thing, much of our novel domestic agriculture is focused on the production of biofuel or animal feed, both of which raise questions about the effective use of agricultural land. “But introducing a new crop, then finding a way of turning it into delicious, healthy food that people will want to eat, is a rare thing indeed. It requires joined up thinking, genuine innovation and an awful lot of hard work. But if we are serious about creating a better food future, it is the sort of thing we are going to have to do a lot more of.”

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HITTING ALL TARGETS A carbon footprint saving equivalent to 1.104 million car miles has been achieved by the new Berry Gardens head office, packhouse and cold store facility in Kent in its first year. Solar specialists BeBa Energy UK Ltd returned to the impressive new building a year after it had been commissioned to check the predicted figures against reality. “We found that the installation for Berry Gardens had performed impressively well and had pretty much hit all its targets,” said delighted

BeBa Energy UK technical director Darren Oliver. “We predicted that the 993.85 kW array would generate 949,384 kW hours of solar energy in a year and it has come within 2% of that figure – and that’s despite ten days in August when the system was switched off while site-wide electrical testing was carried out,” he said. “The system also includes control hardware designed to ensure the output doesn’t overload the local grid, and that kicked in four times in May, so the true figure is likely to have been in

excess of the prediction.” The power generated by the system, one of the largest of its kind in the UK, supplied 27.37% of Berry Gardens’ total energy needs over the year, while 9% of the solar electricity went into the grid to be used by local homes and businesses. “The solar PV system reduced Berry Gardens’ carbon footprint by 215,338 kg, the equivalent of the amount of carbon dioxide that would be locked up by 10,906 trees over ten years,” said Darren.


ORGANIC BENCHMARKS RECOGNISED Accreditation bodies have welcomed the fact that the UK’s organic benchmarks have been recognised by the European Union. Lee Holdstock, senior business development manager with Soil Association Certification, said the organisation was “delighted that extensive efforts to guarantee equivalency of UK organic products in Europe post-Brexit have paid off. “We can confirm that Soil Association Certification and all other UK organic certification bodies are now listed within the most recent amend to regulation EC1235/2008, until at least the end of 2021. We welcome EU recognition of the


value of these exports to the UK’s burgeoning organic market, which is on track to reach £2.6BN by end of 2020.” OF&G (Organic Farmers & Growers) also welcomed the news that all six UK organic control bodies would be recognised by the EU, although Chief Executive Officer Roger Kerr warned that there was still uncertainty around regulatory status beyond the end of 2021, with new EU organic regulation due to come into effect at the start of 2022. He said it was a “short-term” gain that “still doesn’t deliver the robust national organic equivalency agreement between the UK and EU we’re calling for”.



Landowners in the Sevenoaks district are being advised to look at their holdings after the district council’s Local Plan was thrown out because it did not provide enough housing land to meet demand. BTF Partnership is urging landowners to get in touch after the High Court threw out an attempt by the council to challenge the Planning Inspector’s findings that its proposed plan was “not legally compliant” and should not be adopted. The council had estimated in February 2019 that it needed to build 698 homes a year between 2015 and 2035 to meet the projected housing demand, a total of 13,960 over the 20-year period. But despite those estimated figures, the plan submitted to the inspector for examination in April 2019 only had housing supply for 10,568 homes over the 20-year period – a shortfall of almost 3,500. Tom French, Director at BTF Partnership commented: “This is an opportunity for landowners with sites which have not yet been considered as well as those which were not included in the draft local plan to look again at the options for them over the next 20 years. “Sevenoaks Council has a responsibility to provide sufficient housing and it will now need to go back to the drawing board to make changes to meet this need or liaise with neighbouring authorities who might be willing to cooperate with it to help it to meet the shortfall. Either way it is important to review your land holdings in the borough to understand how they might be affected.”



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It’s Weald Granary today, who we visited in summer 2019. “Don’t press any buttons!” Weald of Kent YFC @wealdofkentyfc

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AN UNPRECEDENTED 2020 AND A CRUCIAL YEAR TO COME Dear sir, With the looming prospect of Brexit and a new Agriculture Bill passing through parliament, 2020 was going to be a challenging year for rural communities across the South East; then a global pandemic appeared and added to the wave of uncertainty. Those who have diversified their rural businesses into the tourism and hospitality industries have been particularly hard hit, despite the effort many put in to find ways to survive. And while it is promising to hear of the progress of a vaccine, it could still be many months before we see any return

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to business as usual. While it is difficult to consider too many positives that have arisen during the pandemic, the crisis presented those who work in the food and farming sector a chance to increase understanding among the general public of their vital work. In the early stages when the big supermarket chains struggled for many weeks to supply eggs, flour and yeast, for example, it was the local independent farm shops, with short supply chains and high quality, locally sourced produce, that filled a much-needed gap. The increased number of visitors to the countryside has helped people appreciate the diversity of the land and how it is managed, to both feed the country but also to provide an attractive and healthy environment for many to enjoy responsibly. 2021 will be a pivotal year for farmers and landowners across our region. New agricultural policy will be implemented, with cuts in direct payments to farmers, and there will be pilots for the new Environmental Land Management scheme. CLA South East, which represents thousands of farmers, landowners and rural businesses in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight, is working with our members to look at how they can make the most of their natural capital. This could include working with the private sector on carbon off-setting, planting new trees or biodiversity net gain opportunities. Climate change has also been a key focus of the CLA agenda throughout 2020 and will continue to be so in 2021, with the UK hosting COP26, the major global climate summit, in mid-November. The CLA team is supporting rural businesses on a range of topics, from alternative farming methods and water management to energy efficiency of rural housing and renewable energy networks. 2020 has been a year like no other but rural communities and the businesses that operate within them are extremely resilient, agile and open to change. They are often at their strongest when faced with adversity. Let’s hope 2021 gives them more to cheer. Michael Valenzia, CLA South East Regional Director

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“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” my eldest daughter assures me. As a frontline NHS worker, she has already received her first dose of vaccine and is looking forward to getting her second early in January. She also has a self-testing Covid-19 kit at home. Progress has been made from those dark early days when the pandemic first arrived in the UK. Then she faced the scary experience of nursing Covid-19 patients in intensive care and having to spend her non-working time in isolation for fear that the precautions taken might have failed. The UK has done well to get the vaccine up and running; its implementation should pave the way for a return to a more normal form of living. Let’s hope 2021 turns out to be a better year. Younger family members ask: Do I regret voting to leave the European Union? Not at all. I realise that the transition out of the EU is not going to be easy. There will be tough times ahead, compounded by the economic effects of the pandemic, but personally I’m convinced that in the long run it will be better for our nation. This is not to say that we can’t work with Europe for our mutual benefit, if they will allow it. The UK becoming more responsible for its own destiny should be a positive move. Given time, it will be interesting to learn our grandchildren’s verdict on this matter. Right now, we just need to lose the negativity which is rife in the media. Britain’s new year resolution should be a change



in attitude; regain energy and implement a ‘can do’ mindset. Start to believe in ourselves as a nation, stop relying on others, rebuild some industry. It might require some ‘outside the box’ thinking and creativity, but that could be good. Cat lovers please excuse the expression, but there is indeed “more than one way to skin a cat”. Everyone will need to adapt to build a better future. Let’s stop all this faffing about and get on with it. We’re told lamb producers will be hit hard. Shepherds of necessity are a resilient bunch. We’ve had poor returns before and survived. The possible banning of live exports could further complicate lamb sales. Animals travelling vast distances to be

> We’re so lucky to enjoy the great outdoors


slaughtered is far from ideal. The fact that small local slaughter houses have become unviable in this country is a travesty. I’d like to see this situation reversed. It may very well be true that in parts of the south, slaughter houses in France could be closer than English ones. Animal rights campaigners have not helped matters by targeting abattoirs. By demonstrating against these, far from promoting animal welfare, they’ve made the situation worse. Farming is Changing is the title of a booklet received from DEFRA. Hasn’t farming always been changing? Like our ancestors before us, we’ve strived to improve; the land, stock, yields etc, aiming to produce food and build efficient businesses. What is new is that with world populations rising, food seems to be missing from the agenda. The booklet says: “This is an exciting time for English farming”. I want to

believe this, but I can’t help the underlying feeling of scepticism. Luckily, I don’t have too much time to dwell on it, because farming keeps me busy. Our good news is that we passed our TB test, all cattle are housed and we are tweaking feeding and bedding arrangements as best we can with what we have available. We want to upgrade the cattle shed, making conditions suitable for using modern machinery. DEFRA tells us to invest in infrastructure that improves farm productivity; sadly the local planning authorities have not received the memo. The process is expensive, slow and involves a lot of bureaucracy; we’re working on it. Alongside reading the TB test, the vet checked the pregnancy status of our cows. He was perplexed by my reaction when he cheerfully announced that the first cow was pregnant. “Oh no,” I said. “This cow is 15 years old and had she been empty I’d planned to cull her.” She’ll stay. Due to low water levels last summer we had to remove the bull from the cows earlier than usual. We were worried he might go on a walk/swim adventure. It turns out he was rather efficient with his time. The rains this winter have produced some impressive floods. Typically, our first day back working the spaniels was wet. Not that it deterred their enthusiasm, but we all got soaked. At the end of the day, with energy levels running low, I was

> Cattle munching on hay

reluctant to go moving sheep. My dilemma was that one flock was grazing in the valley. The river levels looked ok, but the weather app showed a wet night. As I drank a cup of tea, husband announced high tide was due at 2am. It was dusk when I decided to move those ewes onto higher ground. We had three inches of rain and the whole valley was under water the next morning. That was a close one. At this time of year I’m appreciating my hunter/ gatherer instincts. We’re eating pheasant and reaping the benefits of fruit and vegetables from the garden. Back in the summer, harvesting the produce was a struggle at times, but I’m glad I persisted. We’re enjoying plum, blackberry and apple jam and puddings. Apple juice, stewed apple, pies. We’ve feasted on lettuce, beans, tomatoes, squashes, courgettes. I’ve been impressed by how much produce our small, no dig veg patch grew. It was well worth the effort. My leeks will soon be ready to pull and I’ve got some peas, onions and garlic coming on. I’m reading a book entitled Sacred Cow (The case for better meat) ‘Why well-raised meat is good for you and good for the planet.’ Refreshingly, it dispels antimeat rhetoric. It proposes ‘solutions’ to the flaws in our current food system. As a livestock farmer, its message is music to my ears. I live in hope. Happy farming in the new year, keep safe and healthy.

> Veg patch growing leeks, peas, onions and garlic

> You lead the way and we’ll follow > I enjoy lookering on the levels


> Sussex cow > If I’d left them in the valley, it would have been disastrous

> Leeks and peas

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Tim is the fourth generation to farm at the family owned 2,500 acre estate located in the Hampshire downs, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Basingstoke. His great grandfather, a solicitor in London, purchased 250 acres of sporting land for hunting. His grandfather increased the farm to around 1,500 acres and Tim’s dad has since added another 1,000 acres of land. Interestingly, due to the legal background, the farm has always been run as a company, with a board of directors and quarterly meetings. “The company owns no land at all – it’s all under a continuous tenancy,” explained Tim. “That means my family can borrow against the value of the land and if a project were to go wrong the bank could only ever take hold of tenanted land. So the tenure of what we do as a farming business is completely separate,” he continued. Growing up on the conventional mixed farm, there was a lot of livestock; a commercial herd of 500 milkers and a large indoor pig unit and arable operation. There were also a lot of people; the estate employed around 28 staff, with a small team in the office. Then in 1998 the family got out of pigs, which were losing around £200,000 a year in net worth. The dairy was also in dire need of investment, and faced with the prospect of an injection of £250,000

> Tim

GROWING POTENTIAL This month Nigel Akehurst visited Kingsclere Estates in North Hampshire and met managing director and regenerative farmer Tim May to learn more about his sustainable model of share farming and land management. it was decided to sell the cows. By 2002 the last of the dairy cows were sold and the redundant farm buildings repurposed as commercial lets, at which point they moved to 100% arable cropping. Growing up, Tim always knew he wanted to farm. He attended Brymore school down in Somerset, one of the only state schools that has its own farm. “I used to go and milk cows and feed the pigs in



the morning and then go in the workshop in the afternoon. I got a GCSE in Agriculture,” he said. At 18, he spent ten months working on farms in New Zealand and Australia and then did the 2,000

KINGSCLERE ESTATES, HAMPSHIRE mile harvest in North America, returning home in 2004 with a global perspective on agriculture. Having gained a degree at Harper Adams, he returned to the farm to run the arable operation. “We were going through a down time and I felt the farm needed an injection of youth,” he said. Tim admits it wasn’t an exciting time, with wheat and oilseed rape prices on the floor. All the land was farmed conventionally on a broad-acre basis – one drill and one combine across 2,500 acres using all the latest GPS technology. “We bought our first direct drill in 1996, mainly down to the mechanical costs of the aggressive flinty loam soils,” he said. The focus was on reducing the cost of getting seed in the ground. The whole concept of soil health was a bit limited at that time, he added. “When I came back I took on a different agronomist who understood the soil health side of things a bit better,” he said. Tim continued to use the same methods but saw little improvement in yields year on year, in spite of growing expenditure on increasingly sophisticated inputs and technology. He began to realise that the soil was becoming lifeless and lacking organic matter.


Then in 2011/12 he embarked on a Nuffield Scholarship, travelling to Brazil, North America and Africa over a six-week period. He spent time reading while on the road, becoming interested in sustainability and the circular economy. During this time it became clear to him that it wasn’t the soil that was worn out, but the economic model of farming. In North America Tim visited YouTube sensation Joel Salatin at Polyface farm in Virginia. The farm is driven using unconventional methods, with the goal of “emotionally, economically and environmentally enhancing agriculture”. Joel, one of the leading practitioners of regenerative farming, had a profound influence on him. He was captivated by his enterprise stacking, mobile infrastructure and direct sales farming model. Interestingly, Tim pointed out, many of his mixed farming ideas come from the seminal fifties book Farming Ladder by Cotswold farmer George Henderson. Two of his fellow Nuffield year scholars, Tom Chapman and Rob Richmond, wrote their reports on mob grazing and soil carbon, both helping shape >> Tim’s new vision.

FARM FACTS • Total area of temporary herbal leys 600 ha • Total cropping area split into eight rotational blocks; five years of herbal ley grass, three years of cropping • Covercrops include turnips, mustard (plantain, chicory and clovers under sown in May to all crops) • Arable crops include linseed, oats, barley, spelt, quinoa, miscanthus • Soils are mainly chalky loam with clay cap • Started organic conversion under OF&G in 2015. One remaining block of land still to be converted. • Commercial lets housed in old dairy farm buildings (approx. space – 100,000 sq ft) • Green burial business Ibworth woodlands (www.ibworthwood.co.uk) • Tim’s wife, Sharon, runs a counselling business from the estate • Six staff employed by Kingsclere Estates (including Tim and his father) • Three existing share farming partners • The roaming dairy – Olly Chedgey runs a mobile milking enterprise, with a 20 by 20 outdoor milking parlour and 450 head of Jersey X Friesian cows • Shepherd James runs 1,000 head of easycare wool shedding commercial sheep • The Pasture Raised Egg Company – Ben Reynaldo runs the 600 bird organic egg laying enterprise, selling the eggs to local farm shops and via an onsite egg vending machine.

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<< “When I married the two of those it was pretty obvious I could get the grass and fertility building phase back into our rotation. We should be able to reduce our inputs and increase our yield,” he said.

Tim wrote his final Nuffield paper entitled “Understanding and implementing sustainability”. I asked what some of his key findings were from his paper? He explained that sustainability is often broken down in terms of people, planet and profit, also referred to as the triple bottom line. “Some of the better farms I visited were proud of what they were doing and why they were doing it – getting away from commodity agriculture and producing a quality product,” said Tim. “It’s also about forming cyclical relationships with people; the tag line in our business is growing potential,” he continued. In his own farming context Tim believes that profit is vital, as you need a surplus of time and energy to do the innovation and changes needed to become more sustainable.

have very few employees and use contractors to do all our arable work,” he said. Tim is actively looking for new partners who want to be part of his exciting journey. He is looking for bright, entrepreneurial candidates. No previous farming experience is necessary. He lists some of the opportunities open to partners; established raw material growers, start-up farmers, food producers, drinks manufacturers, compost innovators, farm shop owners, veg box scheme creators, field restauranteurs, textile producers, glamping enthusiasts, the list goes on and on. Tim wants to hear from you. He already has several partners in place, running sheep, dairy, chicken and other enterprises on the estate. “We’d like to introduce outdoor organic pigs and are looking for a partner to help us get this enterprise off the ground,” he added. He is passionate about his farming partnership model, as it allows him to be less of a manager, freeing up headspace to get on and think about the next project and drive more stacked enterprises on the farm. There is more about Tim’s vision and the different partner opportunities available on the new Kingsclere Estates website.





Another concept integral to Tim’s vision is the circular economy, an economic model whose objective is to produce goods and services in a sustainable way by limiting the consumption and waste of resources (raw materials, water, energy) as well as the production of waste. Tim has seen first-hand the outcome of commodity farming; the economic, social and environmental costs. That’s why he wants Kingsclere to become a circular community farm estate.


“One of my big ambitions is to have fewer staff and more partners. We now

Tim returned from his Nuffield trip with a clear vision to radically regenerate his soils and do everything in his power to increase biodiversity on the estate for future generations. He began to implement changes in 2012, switching to grass and a mixed rotational farming system. To help build a strong business case, he undertook a five-year cashflow which yielded substantial savings through a large reduction in inputs. With the funds, he purchased a new tractor, planted 480 hectares of herb rich leys and went out and bought his first livestock. He has since converted nearly all the land to organic, with the final block of land going into conversion next year.

For anyone unfamiliar with Nuffield, Tim describes it as an organisation run by farmers for farmers. He explained that they look for the future leaders, innovators and early adopters of agriculture and then give them a bursary to travel around the world to find some new ideas and communicate them to the industry. JANUARY 2021 | WWW.SOUTHEASTFARMER.NET






Sheep were an obvious route, due to their low cost. Tim bought 1,500 low input breeding ewes from a retiring shepherd, hiring him to look after them and lamb them down in May. Later he found a young shepherd, James, who he hired. He has since become a partner and now owns his own flock of 1,000 easy care self shedding sheep at Kingsclere, paying Tim for the grazing. This year he will be lambing in March, with all the lambs fattened on 100% herb rich pasture.


Tim’s next venture was dairy. He partnered with Oliver Chedgey to set up a mobile milking parlour in 2017. I’d only ever seen a mobile milking parlour once before – a prototype milking bale capable of milking two cows. This parlour is in a different league, capable of milking 20 cows a side, which translates to 120 cows per hour. It is also completely mobile and is moved every couple of days, ensuring the cows are milked on location. This means they don’t have the stress of walking between the pasture and the parlour, which can lead to lameness, while spreading the fertility benefits of a dairy farm across the whole land area. They are milked once a day between 7am and 11am – more in keeping with their (and our human) natural rhythms, explained Tim. Kingsclere operates a shared farming agreement with Olly, meaning the estate owns half of the 450-strong herd and puts in the food from the land. Olly owns the other half of the cows and all the machinery and puts in all the time. They then both take a share of the milk price according to what’s been put in.


Ben Reynaldo runs the Pasture Raised Egg Company at Kingsclere. He came to the estate as a start-up, with no prior experience of farming. Tim offered him a mentoring service, examining the best way to make the business viable. >>


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OUT AND ABOUT WITH NIGEL AKEHURST Starting with 25 hens, and now running << a 600-strong flock, Ben and his hens follow the cattle around with the mobile egg-laying units. The chickens peck at the cow dung, feeding on the insects found within it. This means they need fewer protein supplements in their diet. Kingsclere has shared the capital costs, installing an egg vending machine at Folly Farm and investing in the mobile shed units, while Ben has bought half the flock and other items needed to set it up. They share running costs and share income from the sale of the eggs.


Tim is starting to see the benefits of his four-year fertility building grass leys, with some promising yields achieved over the past couple of years on niche arable crops such as quinoa and organic linseed.



In addition to the more traditional farming enterprises, Kingsclere Estates is also home to a number of commercial businesses, housed mainly in a collection of farm buildings that were used for the dairy and pigs back in the 1990s. Tim’s wife Sharon runs her counselling service from Folly Farm. He also runs a green burial business on the estate. In the future Tim would like to create an innovation hub at Kingsclere to help develop more

fledgling partners; providing a corner of a field or barn, along with mentoring and business support to get the idea off the ground. “We’re going to get value from learning from their mistakes or successes and see if it’s a business we invest in when they get to that growth phase,” said Tim.


Tim believes that the next logical step for veganism will be regenerativism, as the people that are really ‘woke’ about being vegan start to embrace regenerative agriculture. “It’s important we don’t fight the vegans too much; we need to celebrate them and thank them for looking at the food system,” he said


Tim is quite positive about the impact of Covid-19, believing that it has helped increase interest in where food comes from. He is also hopeful that in a year or two the agricultural sector will start to see a larger pool of talent looking to set up land-based businesses.


I asked Tim what he thought about the phasing out of BPS. “I will miss the no-strings attached money,” he replied. Money that has enabled Tim to implement


many of the regenerative farming changes he has made since returning from his Nuffield. However, he feels reassured that their tenancy rent agreement is linked to profit, so future reductions in BPS will be offset by smaller rents. He also said they would be exploring opportunities to work with their local water company to reduce nitrate levels using cover crops and companion crops as well as investigating markets for less nitrogen-intensive crops. He is also exploring the use of virtual fencing to enable variable rate grazing.


Tim worries about the possible prescriptive nature of ELMS. “I can’t really embrace it as I’m trying to change things all the time,” he said. He cites the Countryside Stewardship option EK21 for herbal leys, which is incompatible with his system of holistic grazing.


Tim is well on his way to creating a regenerative community farm estate at Kingsclere. He has a clear vision of where he is going and what he wants to achieve. With so much uncertainty surrounding farming, chatting to Tim is a breath of fresh air. He’s excited about the future and, as his corporate tag line says, ‘growing potential’.

LEGAL DIARY Normally when starting a new year one tends to have a sense of what the year will hold; this could be by way of celebrating a family event, a promotion in work or looking forward to the summer holiday. This year I am sure most people will be a little perplexed as to what 2021 will bring. The majority of us will certainly be wishing for a Covid-19 free year, as I am sure all of us have not come away unscathed by the pandemic that has played havoc with 2020. As I write this article I am preparing for Christmas. Normally, at this time of year, I would be recovering from a variety of sore limbs from my rather ambitious dance moves after the Christmas party, my body declaring an intolerance to mince pies after eating a van’s worth of them, and I would be running around like a frantic chicken trying to get the house organised before the Keohane clan arrives! This year, however, is very different. There is a strong possibility that none of the Keohane clan will make it to my house this year as my nephew has caught Covid-19 and, most likely, so have my parents. My normal embrace for all Christmas songs and glittery items of clothing throughout the month of December has certainly fallen flat, but in an attempt not to be completely gloomy this does mean that being home alone I will get control of the Roses chocolate tin! So what will 2021 bring? Well, there is a sense of some optimism in the air with the new vaccination programme being rolled out. However, I doubt that it will be back to business as usual, and with Covid-19 and Brexit looming at the start of the year it certainly won’t be full throttle for most. From a personal perspective the firm’s property department has been extremely busy in lockdown, particularly our residential department as the stamp duty break has created an influx of people wishing to take advantage of the saving. The pandemic has also made people reflect on their lifestyle, particularly outdoor space, and we have seen a surge of people moving from the city into more rural settings.




It became very clear that the property market was suffering because of Covid-19, particularly during the first lockdown back in March. In a bid to revive the market, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) break. Before that, only first-time buyers were eligible for non-payment of SDLT for homes worth up to £300,000. The SDLT break allows residential property buyers, whether they are firsttime buyers or not, to be exempt from paying SDLT on properties up to a value of £500,000. The exemption does not apply if the buyer will own more than one property on completion. Under a staggered band approach, for properties over £500,000 the SDLT payable is 0% for the first £500,000 and 5% up to a value of £925,000. For example, if a house is worth £530,000, the SDLT payable is £1,500. The first £500,000 is exempt and 5% is paid on the residual £30,000. If the SDLT break was not in place the amount payable would be £16,500. There is a band increase up to 12% for properties over the value of £1,500,000. The SDLT break has resulted in a very buoyant residential property market, but is due to end on 31 March 2021. If transactions have not proceeded to

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completion before or on 31 March 2021, as it currently stands, a higher SDLT payment will be due under the regime which was in place prior to 8 July 2020. Understandably, most buyers want to make the most of this SDLT break. If buyers want to benefit, they should already have a proceedable offer and instruct solicitors prior to Christmas. Estate agents are already warning clients that they may not make the deadline of 31 March 2021. As it currently stands, the Government has not announced any intention to extend the SDLT break. One thing that is certain for me in the new year will be my role at work, as I will be stepping into a new role as head of the firm’s property department. With the changes ahead and business re-emerging after the pandemic, it will certainly keep me busy and out of trouble…at least for a short while! I wish you all a happy and healthy start to 2021.


Director (Legal Executive) Rural & Commercial Property Specialist T: 01227 643271 E: MarshaMarriner@whitehead-monckton.co.uk www.whitehead-monckton.co.uk






The pandemic supressed a lot of column inches on the impacts of Brexit. With the day looming ever closer, some of the stark realities of our potential situation, come January, are becoming clear. As I write I’m listening to a webinar asking for fair and sustainable pricing so that our industry has both economic and environmental sustainability going forward. There has been some very sombre news from the food and grocery distribution trade,whose members are clear that Brexit food shortage fears will become a reality. In statements made to the trade press, following contingency planning exercises, it is feared that the worst-case scenario Brexit will become reality from January, with 40% of the food trade grinding to a halt. Government officials and food industry representatives met late in November to discuss the issue, with Dan McCartney, DEFRA’s head of food security and resilience, telling industry figures to expect 40% flow rates. The group also discussed the medium term risk to UK border flows. The discussions left industry representatives in no doubt that the worst case predictions of 40% to 70% of trucks travelling to the EU not being ready for new border controls, resulting in queues of up to 7,000 trucks on motorways across Kent (well for sure the M20…) will become a reality.

SARAH CALCUTT Executive Chair, National Fruit Show

Since the EU supplies the UK with 26% of its total food and around 70% to 80% of its fresh fruit and vegetables, the disruption could leave a significant shortfall in the nation’s food supplies. According to DEFRA figures, around 70% of tomatoes, 99% of spinach, 71% of cucumbers and 74% of pears come from Europe. Please don’t think this is me taking a pop at any ministry; the challenges will be from the other side of the channel too. While I don’t doubt it’s going to be rocky in places, are we not being presented with the greatest single opportunity to showcase how brilliant home grown food is? Do we not have the greatest opportunity to seize our home market, and demonstrate what a robust supply chain we have and how our consumers can have the best diet produced only a short distance away? In the same way that society has had a reset in many habits (the return to daily exercise, the enjoyment of the British countryside, learning


how to cook from scratch, to evaluate what is important in life amongst many others) is this not an opportunity to have a diet reset too? Seasonal availability, the benefits of a beneficial circular economy where a larger proportion of the £ spent stays here. Now I’m not that daft to have forgotten that we aren’t self-sufficient, nor that the benefits system does not allow for a healthy diet packed with fresh produce, but this is going to be an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss. We will be needed and we will be able to rise to the challenge. I do have cheerful news though, if I’m allowed to be a little insular? At the National Fruit Show we have a new team, a new structure, a new resolve, new trustees and a plan to take us to our centenary. After two very happy years, Catherine is moving to a great new full time role with Bardsley England, Norma Tompsett is now in charge of the competitions, Liz Knight the accounts under our very able new Treasurer Chris Morris, Laura Larkin is joining us as exhibition manager, Edward Newling has been co-opted as a trustee for the East Midlands, Jonathan Blackman as trustee for the West Midlands and Claire Seymour is also joining the trustee board on behalf of sponsors and exhibitors. 2021 is the UN year of fruit and vegetables. Let’s make it our year of moving forward, supporting a healthy national diet.






A good reputation is the best possible marketing tool when it comes to building business success – but sometimes a reputation can stick a little too tightly. For Torran Construction, the past 15 years have seen the business grow to dominate the agricultural groundworks sector almost to the exclusion of any other players. Most new building features in this magazine seem to include the line: “with groundworks by Torran Construction”.

Founder John Rodgers isn’t complaining, but he is beginning to feel a bit like an actor who dropped into a successful role early in his career and is now struggling to be cast as anything else. “We have the skills, experience, men and machinery to deliver the complete project as a main contractor, and we have been doing that very successfully for more than the past decade, but we still tend to be known for our groundworks,” he said. “That’s not a bad thing, as getting the

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groundworks right is absolutely fundamental to ensuring the success of the project as a whole, but we are determined to remake a name for ourselves as one of the South East’s top main contractors for agricultural and commercial buildings. One that is also fantastic at groundworks.” It’s an ambition that shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve. Since 2011, Torran Construction has acted as main contractor on projects including anaerobic >> digestion plants at Ebbsfleet and St Nicholas


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> Expansion at A C Hulme & Sons ©Martin Apps << at Wade, a pallet distribution warehouse on Eurolink at Sittingbourne, a new rotary dairy at Ringwould, commercial greenhouses for Thanet Earth at Birchington, a new leisure park at Monkton and new offices and other buildings for Frontier at GH Grain, Wingham. It also played a major part in this year’s 4,500 sq m expansion of top fruit grower A C Hulme & Sons’ packing and distribution operation at Ash, just outside Dover, where the floor slab was “one of the most complex we have ever


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been involved with”. The business, which is based at Preston, near Canterbury, and is about to move into new offices on the site it owns, began in 2004 and quickly picked up a reputation for quality groundworks, working on a number of large, mainly commercial sites. It was the recession that prompted the shift into agricultural work, which up until then had accounted for only around 20% of Torran Construction’s turnover. “We were doing some multi-million contracts for some big players, but in 2008/09 that came to an end,” John explained. The global financial crash had a limited impact on agriculture, though, and Torran Construction found new opportunities in that area, boosted by the rural contacts of partner Jim Pace, who is still actively involved with the business. “We quickly found a bit of niche in agriculture and we were fortunate enough to become the favoured groundworks contractor of a couple of the larger steelframed buildings suppliers,” John recalled. “One of the advantages we had was that our commercial background working for some big names meant we were working to a standard that was perhaps higher than tended to be the norm in the sector, where ‘agricultural’ sometimes meant the finish could be less than perfect. “We treated agricultural groundworks with the same attention to detail as we had been giving to projects for household name main contractors in the commercial world, and clients were quick to notice the difference. That helped us to cement a reputation that has lasted to this day.” Clients noticed the difference. “We started providing industrial-standard, powerfloated concrete floors in our farm buildings,” said John. “It doesn’t cost any more, but the improvement in quality was immediately noticeable and helped build our reputation.” Impressed with the quality of Torran Construction’s workmanship, clients across Kent and Sussex soon began asking John and his team if they could manage other stages in the process, and the company quickly expanded its skillset to offer a full main contracting option. “It isn’t a major challenge to complete a building once you have done the critically important bit and provided decent foundations,” John explained. “Clearing, levelling and setting out the site and providing the right foundations is the crucial part of any project, whether that’s a grain store, a machinery shed or a cold store. “Once it’s out of the ground it’s pretty straightforward to bolt the rest of it in place and finish the job, bringing in the right teams to fix the panels, add the cladding, provide the refrigeration and wire up the electrics etc.


“It’s actually a lot easier for us if we can co-ordinate the other trades and make sure everything happens at the right time and in the right order. That’s why we are now actively looking for new projects that we can manage – from the planning and design phase through to the handover.” At Ash, the site of Tom Hulme’s latest expansion, Torran Construction was retained as the groundworks contractor and helped to deliver an impressive building within a number of challenging constraints.



Tom was determined that as many of the services as possible should be hidden, which meant that the powerfloated floor was provided over a complex network of ducts, pipe runs and cable outlets. “The aim was that when he brought in the grading and packing equipment, all the services were sitting there, ready to be connected up,” John recalled. “It was a remarkably complex bit of work, not helped by varying site levels, but it went smoothly, and Tom was delighted.” John stressed that in this >>

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<< case, as in all others, close liaison with the client was essential. “In the old days you would just pick up a plan and follow it,” he said. “That’s changed. These days you have to be alert to the client spotting new opportunities and wanting to tweak things.” Torran Construction has also ventured into property development and has built homes in Margate and in Acol, where it also worked on a pub conversion, as well as in Wingham, Canterbury, where it also built a shop unit, and Preston, where the company built a new bistro and kitchen. “What we have also gained is a lot of knowledge and experience in converting farm buildings, either into commercial space or accommodation. Given how busy farmers are with the ‘day job’, asking us to advise on the opportunity and then project manage the whole scheme once agreed is an option they may want to consider,” John said. While delivering more turnkey projects as the main contractor is high on John’s agenda, he stressed that Torran Construction was still keen to build its reputation as the ‘go-to’ groundworks supplier for steel building installers and others. “We’ve worked hard to get here and we’re keen to maintain that reputation – but we would like people to know that we are capable of taking on the whole project,” he stressed. “Good preparation is the key to success in many areas of life, and that is





certainly the case when it comes to construction, so we believe we are in a great position to deliver the full building, whatever is required. “By the time it comes to erecting the building itself and making it fit for purpose, we have already done the hard work so there really is no restriction on the kinds of project we are able to take on,” said John. “The one thing we can guarantee is that it will be built to the highest quality.” The company’s strong connections with all the main players in the agricultural construction world – and the strength of its reputation – mean that Torran Construction is able to bring together the right team for any project and negotiate good deals from suppliers. To ensure reliability and reduce downtime, the company operates its own core plant, bringing in additional hire vehicles only when necessary and investing regularly to make sure its plant and machinery are reliable. The vineyard sector has also proved an important area for Torran Construction, with Biddenden, Gusbourne, Bookers and Albourne vineyards numbered amongst John’s clients. As he looks to relaunch Torran Construction on a different stage, John will be hoping that his business resembles Sir David Jason. “He’s one of the country’s favourite actors but has always managed to avoid being typecast; he’s just great at every part he plays,” he laughed.


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So I’ve decided to avoid anything political or topical in this month’s article, as the world is moving on so swiftly that anything I write today may well be yesterday’s fish and chip paper by the time you all read this. Christmas has come and gone in a whirlwind of excitement. Wrapping paper everywhere; I should have just purchased a cardboard box, and all would be fantastic in the eyes of a three year old. Stockings were all open by 5.30am and we were all out working by 6.15am, in for a hearty breakfast/brunch at 11am followed by a few more presents and then back out to work. Christmas dinner is always a delayed affair in our household, so we all aim to sit down around 6.30pm ish…. If you are three years old, it all becomes a little too much by 7pm, so off to bed to repeat the day again on Boxing Day, albeit with a slight difference. We then start all over again but, with the Christmas decorations put to one side, the birthday banners can come out: “Happy Birthday Zara”. The child that’s up at 5.30am every morning mucking out, followed by a full day at school and then riding two ponies upon her return. Having a birthday on Boxing Day is quite tough at the best of times, but in 2020 with the Covid-19 rules and regulations in place, no hunting for us this year. Our local hunt has done a sterling job fundraising in an attempt to keep funds coming in while lockdown has been in place and hunting has been stopped. The huntsman always has a smile and a crude joke to tell when collecting the occasional deadstock. On the topic of deadstock, the deadline of 1 January 2021 has been and passed and we, like all suppliers to Arla, can no longer shoot bull calves on the farm. Instead we must rear all calves to a minimum of 56 days. Thus we are selecting our replacement brood cows to be inseminated with dairy sexed semen and using a continental beef bull


on all other cows. While I don’t disagree with the ruling per se, there are some aspects to it I just don’t get; 56 days for example, the cost to the business is astronomical. The rules of the various farm assurances dictate that we cannot feed waste milk to the calves, so powdered milk to feed these calves is the only option, for a minimum of 56 days. The corporate wannabes that think up these schemes will say it’s all about brand protection; they may have a point, I don’t know, we will comply with the rules as we have no choice. All I do know is that it’s equivalent to a one pence per litre cut on the milk price. Initially I do not believe that it will have an impact on the wider farming community, but time will tell when a substantial amount of low-grade quality dairy cross beef meat reaches the food chain. We see it in the grain trade. When feed wheat price is low, they do not continue to pay a high price for milling wheat. I am sure that this will apply to the beef trade in the not-too-distant future. Despite lockdown two and Tier Three regulations, we just completed our on-farm assurance inspection, which went very well. I guess I should be pleased with no non conformances, but I find it hard to be particularly proud; more like three hours of my life that I won’t get back. Still, I can at least sleep easier now. I can relax in the knowledge that my environmental risk assessment for the use of rat bait on the farm is acceptable and it can go back in the file never to see the light of day for another 12 months,

along with all the other written plan/risk assessments that we have no practical use for other than to wave in front of the assessor next time. Outside all of the above, the farm ticks on; we must all be pleased that the winter crops have got themselves established better than last year. The wheat, grass and rape crops in our area look good, although I guess lifting potatoes hasn’t been all that much fun again this year. I hope the job goes well for them and that any hard frosts stay away. The price of straw seems to be stabilising and farmers seem to be opening their sheds. As a new year begins … let us hope it’s a good one. Happy new year to one and all.

FARM EXPO SET FOR RETURN – 21 APRIL 2021 The South East’s first agricultural trade show of the year is set to return in 2021, with a later date aimed at avoiding the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. Backed by South East Farmer, Farm Expo will return for a third year on Wednesday 21 April at the Kent Showground, where last year more than 110 trade stands were visited by 2,500 visitors. The Kent County Agricultural Society (KCAS), the team behind Farm Expo, has said it is looking to

build on the success of the previous two years to bring a more diverse offering for the South East’s farming community. KCAS Chairman James Forknall, said: “Farm Expo has become a key date in the diary for farmers and we knew we wanted to return for 2021, despite the pressures of the current pandemic. It is important that the industry continues to have a platform to see and discuss the latest developments and issues.


“The team behind Farm Expo has been working hard to find ways to run Farm Expo this year in a safe manner without compromising the value the event offers.” Plans include wider aisles, one-way systems and enough flexibility to make sure it can follow any restrictions in force at the time. www.kentshowground.co.uk/farmexpo


While many growers managed to drill early into favourable conditions for crop establishment and pre-emergence sprays, some were hampered by record breaking rainfall during October, resulting in crops going in late into sub-optimal conditions, potentially without any residual herbicide. It is these later-drilled patchy crops that are at greatest risk from weed competition come spring, as underlying weed pressure is likely to be greater and they lack the competitiveness of better established, earlier-sown crops. Wheat drilled early into high-risk grassweed situations could also come under more pressure in spring, especially if there was not sufficient time between harvest and drilling for the usual cultural controls such as stale seedbeds. Attention often focuses on black grass, but while this remains a big issue in many areas, ryegrass is also a significant threat. It can be a beast to control if itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s allowed to spread and establish, so if you see any ryegrass, you have to take a zero tolerance approach. Even if residual chemistry was applied last autumn, there could be question marks over its efficacy given heavy rain in October, which may have washed actives deeper into the soil. Where fluefenacet-based residuals were applied for grass weeds, top up levels with additional flufenacet as soon as conditions are suitable for travel in early spring. By maintaining residual levels, we can hopefully tackle the problem at the root before weeds emerge. Remember, applying a flufenacet top-up of 120g a.i/ ha is only effective if there is some residual level left in the soil after autumn treatment; that amount wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do much on its own. If young black grass is already present, contactacting products based on iodosulfuron-methylsodium and mesosulfuron-methyl are generally most



CONTROL Spring herbicides are likely to be more important than usual for keeping winter cereals weed free this season, given wide variations in autumn drilling and residual programmes, according to James Boswell, agronomist with Hutchinsons. effective. It may also be worth including a residual product in the mix to pick up any later emerging weeds.


Mr Boswell says crops should be monitored closely over the coming weeks, allowing growers to respond with the appropriate herbicide programme. For all grass weeds, the best results come from applying herbicides early to small weeds, before tillering, and by making sure they are actively growing. Good application technique is also vital to ensure contact-acting chemistry hits the target, so slow down and get boom height right to maximise spray coverage on weed leaves.


Broadleaved weeds tend to be less of an issue in cereals where effective residual programmes have been applied, and many species will be controlled by sulfonylurea chemistry applied for grass weeds. Their later emergence also means crops should be better established and more able to outcompete emerging broadleaf weeds, although there can be issues in gappy and thin crops, or where there is a field history of a particular weed problem. Where targeted broadleaf weed control is required, there is a wide range of chemistry, based on ALS and hormone actives, so it is all about matching the herbicide to the weed spectrum.


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Well, 2020 went out with more of a bang than a whimper, as far as grain prices go. Even with the low wheat crop that we forecast this time last year, no one could have honestly expected the high domestic values we have seen in the past two months. Another old trade anecdote that gets hauled out when completely unpredictable price increases engulf you is “the trend is your friend”. Well it jolly well isn’t if you are a compounder, miller or merchant that’s caught short! Working for the UK’s only national, farmer-owned grain marketing and arable inputs co-operative, I’m pleased to say that the farmer has benefitted most from these high prices. And why not, after suffering probably the worst combination of planting and growing conditions ever seen, followed in many cases by poor harvest weather? But I hear you ask: “Why in these anticipated circumstances would anyone in the trade sell the market short? Why wouldn’t a miller or compounder have covered their forward requirements against expected production?” Well, there are two or three reasons; firstly, for once the “big picture” forecasters got something right, because the world in 2020 had the biggest wheat, maize, and soya harvest ever. So, end users could have been forgiven for believing that there would be plenty of supply somewhere. Secondly the pandemic, starting last March with a ’fall off the cliff’ in demand for some foodstuffs (bakery goods, beer, vegetable oil, ethanol), suggested unemployment on a big scale, and a recession was expected to follow. So many manufacturers and end users began to de-stock. No one could see any real recovery in some sales until late in 2021.

THE TREND IS YOUR FRIEND Well, apart from a couple of early months, the much expected “demand destruction” didn’t happen. With a vaccine expected from the beginning of 2021, we saw some of these hard hit products recovering much earlier. While the UK trade expected wheat to be in short supply, spring barley plantings were up 30%. So there should have been no shortage of barley, particularly malting barley, or so we thought. Even when rain in the middle of August ruined half the malting crop, that only meant more feed being added to the already large exportable surplus. Finally, dear old Brexit dictated that sales of barley to the EU had to be completed by the 31 December to avoid penalty. So forward sales were made before the whole grain complex took off in price. Despite this, some boats were not executed because of last minute congestion at UK ports. Keeping with the old crop, UK wheat futures jumped £7 per tonne in one day on 11 December. This was because Russia strongly indicated that it intends to reduce its wheat export quota by 2.5 million tonnes and apply an export tax of £20 per tonne from the middle of February. This is to try to counter domestic price inflation of wheat, flour and bread. This spooked the big hedge fund shorts and end users; three days later it lost most of that gain, but all world buyers are now uncomfortable, despite the record crops. For once this had nothing to do with China as it’s distorted practically every commodity market, from metals, ELVED PHILLIPS coal, barley, maize, soya and even wheat, with insatiable demand. Openfield It’s ironic that in a year of plentiful supplies and what


should have been less consumption because of the pandemic, it was actually demand which drove the market, not lack of product. As I presaged in my last article, there was nothing to stop wheat reaching new market high levels, and it already has. So if you are lucky enough to have some grain left to sell, keep cashing it in. New crop must be the focus now, but as I said last time there’s no rush. In my own crop marketing cooperative, comparisons show that in the past year, properly managed pools, with farmer input, together with our market tracker, have in most cases outperformed individual farm sales. We are seeing greater commitment to these two risk management products. Looking back over last year, there were no forward sales made which have not been exceeded by subsequent price rises. In the past, sellers, whether farmers or the trade, reckoned that if they made a forward sale and the market later fell below that price they had got the market right. What we saw in the past year is that it’s been impossible to identify when the top of the market has been reached. Making successful predictions about events you cannot control, like weather, politics or Covid-19, is foolhardy, so forget about trying to get the market right and concentrate on not getting it wrong. At these high values you can afford to make smaller but incremental price sales. If you have a more normal crop they are good prices to be wrong at, or scrap the crystal ball and commit it to a pool or tracker and let the professionals take the responsibility. Wishing you a healthy and prosperous new year.

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STEPHEN CARR The Government has, at last, released its Path to Sustainable Farming plan for English farming post-Brexit. Although remarkably light on detail, the document does lay out a clear program for cuts to BPS payments between next year and 2024. Intriguingly, from 2022 it also proposes “an exit support scheme to help farmers who want to retire”. Just what this will amount to is not clear, but the most likely basis of such a retirement scheme will be to give farmers an option to ‘de-link’ their BPS payments from their land. They will then be allowed to walk away from their farms but continue to receive their payments, for a period of time yet to be suggested, provided they give up farming for good. As these farmers take a subsidised retirement, the idea is to create large acreages of land on which no subsidy is claimed and which will then be available for new entrants (who will be eligible for special government financial assistance) to start farming. These youngsters, it is hoped, will be more entrepreneurial, innovative, profitable and environmentally friendly in the way they go about food production. It’s what age group of farmers the Government has in mind for retirement I’m not sure about. If


it’s 60, then there would hardly be a farmer left, given that our average age is now 59. But for a farmer of any age to retire is extremely problematic. Many difficulties famously revolve around Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax. The act of selling farmland or other farming assets immediately creates a likely Capital Gains Tax liability. Farming assets also qualify for Business Asset Relief or Agricultural Property Relief from Inheritance Tax. So farmers with even quite a modest net worth would have to think long and hard about cashing in their farming chips without exposing themselves or their heirs to ruinous taxation. There is even a quirk with Capital Gains Tax

that says that if a farmer owns farmland on death the value of the land is ‘rebased’ to modern day values, allowing beneficiaries to a farmer’s Will to sell on the land completely tax-free. There’s a good reason why accountants advise farmers to make sure they die with their wellies on. Even ignoring the tax implications of a farming retirement, how many farmers are actually capable of hanging up their coveralls for the last time? It’s hard to think of a profession where its practitioners become more attached to the identity that their profession provides. The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown have certainly brought it home to me how much I rely on the farm to keep me sane. However bad the news, an hour looking round my Sussex cows calms me right down. So, while it’s hard to argue that the Government is not correct to develop a scheme to encourage some farmers to retire, I’ll be surprised if they find many takers.

WEATHER MORE DAMAGING THAN FLEE BEETLE Weather was a much bigger factor than cabbage stem flea beetle in the disappointing performance of last season’s winter oilseed rape, according to the latest analysis by experts at ADAS. At a recent Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) technical webinar for oilseed growers, head of crop physiology at ADAS Dr Pete Berry blamed the lowestyielding OSR harvest since 2001 on the dry start in some areas, very wet winter, very dry spring and dull summer across the country. “High CSFB pressures were certainly a problem for many last autumn,” he accepted. “But poor conditions in September and October prevented crops from growing away from the pest as well as they would otherwise have done. Very wet weather right through to the end of February then left those that survived seriously compromised in their early growth in general and rooting, in particular. “The dry and sunny April did help avoid excessive canopies and ensure a very good seed set, with YEN crops producing the highest average seed number in the four years of the competition, at 116,000/m2. “However, continued lack of water through May and dull conditions into the summer really restricted seed fill; especially so with the crops’ restricted root systems. The extent of this was obvious in an average thousand seed weight of just 4.05g, the lowest in the four years.” Growers at the webinar agreed. While 17% of them rated flee beetle damage at establishment as the biggest challenge their crops faced last season, and a further 17% blamed larval infestation in the spring, 55% put autumn/winter or spring weather in the top slot. After analysing the data, the ADAS crop physiology team discovered that the top 50% performing crops (averaging 5.4t/ha) were sowed on average 11 days later than the bottom 50% (averaging 3.2 t/ha). They were also grown at a noticeably narrower average row spacing.

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The better performing crops finished flowering and were harvested an average of 10 days later, so enjoyed a significantly longer seed fill, and they received more fungicide and PGR sprays, which ADAS believes probably led to more efficient canopies. “Despite the very poor seed fill, we continued to see a strong association between the number of seeds set and yield,” Dr Berry reflected. “Producing more than 100,000 seeds/m2 remains the single biggest factor in achieving high yields. “Unlike previous years, though, we didn’t see a positive association between number of nitrogen applications and yield, almost certainly due to restricted uptake in the very dry spring and early summer.” Looking ahead, ADAS believes the industry will need “varieties with sufficient all-round agronomic strength to resist and tolerate environmental challenges rather than just yield potential”, adding: “Matching varieties and their agronomy increasingly carefully to drill timing, seedbed conditions and local risk will be more important than ever.” Dr Berry added: “Whatever the approach, all our YEN evidence and wider OSR management experience points to the vital importance of having sufficient moisture at drilling and through initial establishment. Crops that don’t have this are always likely to struggle and may well not repay the investment needed to take them through to harvest. “In this context, it’s really encouraging to see the contrast between this season’s crops and last, despite our monitoring across the country continuing to show high levels of flea beetle in many areas. “Of those growers involved in our webinar who have oilseed rape in the ground now, none have had any crop failures so far in 2020, with over 90% reporting good establishment and less than 10% seeing backward crops. This gives us far more optimism for 2021.”




> Ruth Wallis, Estate Manager

> Matt Hill, Herds Manager


LOOKING TO A FUTURE > State-of-the-art dairy farm ©Martin Apps

WITHOUT GRANTS A clear focus on making the best use of natural resources has seen a 200 year old family estate expand to become one of the South East’s leading suppliers to Europe’s largest milk cooperative, ARLA. A new dairy at Double Barns Farm in Newick, backed by Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (AMC) funding of £1.2m, will see Sclater Estates Ltd’s annual turnover rise to £3m and allow it to produce between six and seven million litres of milk per year. The investment in the new New Zealand style 48 point swingover parlour has been accompanied by other new developments, including opening a

Christmas shop on the site and growing high-grade Christmas trees for sale both from the estate’s own premises and through a new distribution network. One of the aims of the Christmas tree business is to reduce the carbon footprint of the traditional festive fir, a product that is often imported from Denmark or Scotland and which comes at a high cost in terms of air miles. The farming part of the enterprise runs as Sutton Hall Farms, a partnership between the landowning company and John Sclater, and his son James. Estate Manager at Sclater Estates Ruth Wallis, wife of the estate’s farm contractor James Wallis, explained that


the investment decisions had been made with one eye on the changing nature of farming post-Brexit, particularly the shifting grant landscape. “When the UK made the decision to leave the EU, we decided that it might not be sensible to invest in any area that was heavily dependent on grants that might end up disappearing,” she said. “Dairy farming has always been one of the least subsidised areas of agriculture and the same applies to Christmas trees, so that helped to shape our thoughts.” While the Christmas tree planting is essentially a business venture, it reflects the Sussex estate’s commitment to the environment. The team uses



minimal nutrients and pesticides on its Christmas tree fields in order to encourage plants and wildflowers and benefit a variety of wildlife, from bees and insects to birds and small mammals. In another recent diversification, the estate, which also grows wheat, barley and maize in rotation, converted an 18th century barn at Gipps Farm into a Christmas shop that has proved very popular since

it began trading in 2018, and plans to build a new barn nearby to support the growing Christmas tree business that is set to ratchet up over the next few years. With a long pedigree going back over 200 years, Sclater Estates Ltd covers 2,500 acres in Newick, Barcombe, Chailey and Isfield. The land includes around 1,750 acres of farmland, 700 acres of

woodland and a further 50 acres of buildings, houses and scrubland. John Sclater is the current chairman and chief executive of Sclater Estates Ltd and managing partner of Sutton Hall Farms. His parents, Arthur and Alice Sclater, started to take farms in hand back in the 1950s and it was they who, with their manager Paddy Cumberlege, created the farming business that >>

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> Alfie Dallaway, Assistant Herds Manager

<< has gone from strength to strength in recent years. John is quick to acknowledge that James and Ruth Wallis are, to him, what Paddy Cumberlege was to his parents – “all-important”. At one time there were four dairies on the estate, although, as Ruth Wallis explained, there was never one at Double Barns. When John’s parents and Paddy retired, the Sclater Estate herd dwindled to just one. From 2010, though, with James Wallis now contract farming the land, John began to build the herd back up. Before the recent expansion, the estate had a 210 strong herd at Beaks Farm, Barcombe, and a further 300 cow unit at High House Farm in Chailey, following an extensive modernisation of that facility a few years back. The two units together provided around four million litres of milk a year. The estate land is grade III and so the policy is to operate the business on a ‘medium inputs, medium outputs’ system devised with support from dairy consultant Kay Carslaw. “We operate an autumn block calving system which makes the most of summer grazing and

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silage,” explained Ruth. “When dairy farming was under pressure, we looked at our costs, made a number of efficiencies and negotiated a contract with ARLA, which has been very useful. It makes a big difference having a good milk buyer behind us. They aren’t the highest paying but they aren’t the lowest, and they have been very supportive. “We have also negotiated an undertaking from the cooperative to buy the milk from the new facility at Double Barns Farm, which was a major help in allowing us to take forward this latest expansion. “This is hungry ground; it needs livestock and so we were determined to come up with a successful system that would make the best use of the soil while allowing us to produce milk. We breed for longevity and we are also careful to select calm, friendly animals. “Once we realised that the combination of the future grant situation and the need to keep livestock on the land was pushing us towards dairy, we looked at the options and decided that the best site was Double Barns Farm, where we already had two general purpose buildings. That choice also meant

we could put an area of poor arable land into grass to give us a good grazing block.” The unit includes housing for 300 cows and a hi-tech milking parlour which includes an electronic sorting gate to allow herd manager Matthew Hill to separate a cow for AI or veterinary purposes. The cattle housing was supplied by Farmplus, which prides itself on an impressive design that focuses on the best possible airflow for the cattle and which Ruth said the animals at Sclater Estates “really seem to appreciate”. The draught-free, naturally ventilated housing has been developed by the Lancashire company over the past 30 years, with business owner Jim Rogerson convinced that the best way to house cattle is to provide them with just the kind of shelter they would seek out when left to their own devices. “We are really impressed with what Farmplus has built here at Double Barns Farm and it is pretty clear that the cattle are equally impressed with their new housing,” said Ruth. As Jim Rogerson explained: “Animals out in the open will always look for nature’s shelters, just like humans do. They use hedges, walls and natural >>

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<< hollows to get out of or reduce the impact of the wind. Likewise, they use trees for shade. “So, when we design our buildings we stick to the basic principles of nature. All animals want shelter from the wind and rain, shade from the sun and plenty of fresh air. Air movements ideally want to be above animal height so as not to create a draught, and we recognise that ventilation is more than just volume of air in a building, it is the rate of air exchange. “All animals need a shelter wall to be able to lie behind with a decent air gap above for air to pass over, and depending on the height of the wall, the gap above may need some wind break material above it to break wind speed on bad days.” As well as comfortable and well ventilated housing, the Holstein/Friesian crosses at Double Barns Farm enjoy 24-hour easy access to a self-feed silage clamp during the winter. As part of the business’ ongoing commitment to reducing its carbon output, the new facility incorporates eco-friendly variable flow milk pumps, heat recovery units that heat the dairy wash down water while cooling the milk and other stateof-the-art features to lessen the farm’s reliance on purchased energy. The estate made the most of the natural features of the site, which is a mixture of heavy clay and sandstone. “It was carefully planned so that we could dig the lagoon in the clay soil to keep costs down and then install the buildings on the

sandstone, again making the most of our natural advantages,” said Ruth. Three new jobs have been created at Double Barns Farm as part of the venture, taking the estate’s total number of employees to 15 full and part time staff, plus several contractors. The business expects its annual turnover to be about £3 million following the investment in the new dairy unit. The new staff include Herd Manager Matthew Hill and his assistant Alfie Dalloway, together with help for relief milking across the three dairies and help with youngstock rearing. The new herd has been in production since 18 October, with yields so far in line with expectations at 7,500 litres. James Wallis commented: “We are breeding for solids rather than yield and we are very pleased with the butter fat and protein we have achieved.” The Sclater family has been supported by the AMC over the past 50 years, with the corporation financing a number of past investments. Jon Drew, Regional Agriculture Manager for the South East, AMC, said: “The UK is one of the leading milk-producing nations in the world, and sustainable farming methods have never been more important. Double Barns Farm is blessed with light and sandy soils, which are ideal for early entry to spring grazing of cows as well as later return to winter housing. This is a key factor in animal welfare, and this helps the farm to produce exceptional quality products. “Supporting ambitious land-based projects like Double Barns Farm as they

PROVIDING PRIVATE SUPPLIES IN RURAL LOCATIONS Landowners who need their water supply problems ironed out would be well advised to talk to Richard Boutell, who specialises in providing private supplies in rural locations. Richard’s company Geoff Carey Engineering, based near Tenterden on the Kent/Sussex border, provided the water supply to all three of the dairies run by Sclater Estates and found the Double Barns Farm location by far the easiest to work with. “At Beaks Farm, Barkham and at High House Farm in Chailey we had to deal with a lot of iron and manganese to make sure that the quality of the final supply was as good as we could make it,” said Richard, who can take water from boreholes or, less frequently these days, using riparian

rights. “The Double Barns Farm supply was more straightforward. “The remarkable thing is that a lot of farmers and landowners just seem to accept the fact that


their water is tainted or sludgy, or that they have to keep replacing pumps and other bits because of all the rust that forms. As well as being able to access water and pump it from the source to wherever the farmer needs it, we can treat for all manner of excess chemicals and getting rid of iron is relatively simple.” Geoff Carey Engineering has a network of experts on hand to drill boreholes and carry out extensive tests of potential water supplies. “We will test pump the supply and then carry out lab testing to make sure the final supply is fit for whatever purpose the landowner needs the water,” Richard added. “Getting rid of excess iron is one of many things we can do.”

FEATURED COMPANY: DOUBLE BARNS FARM > The newly renovated barn has been turned into a pop up Christmas shop

> Dave Beale wraps Christmas trees for customers

> Newly planted Christmas trees ready for the future grow and innovate is part of AMC’s DNA. We are working with farms right across the country, providing long-term lending to help implement more sustainable business models and operations and to pursue clean growth opportunities.” Ruth Wallis said the investment represented “an important milestone in the development of our farm, and forms part of our ongoing journey to be a leader in responsible, regenerative and ethical farming. “Our existing two milking units were close to capacity, and we’d have struggled to grow without this third site. We simply wouldn’t have been able to carry through this venture without the support of AMC. The new state-of-the-art facility will not only allow us to increase capacity and efficiency, but it also has a positive environmental impact, allowing us to cut the use of artificial fertiliser and replace it with organic material from our own, larger, herd.” Following the 1987 great storm, John Sclater accelerated a long-term planting programme that has added about 250,000 oak trees to the local countryside, giving him an impressive knowledge of forestry. That knowledge inspired him to research the business benefits of growing Christmas trees, again not least because he knew there were no grants to lose. Other areas of planting include about 1,500 cricket bat willows. With 225 acres of land at Isfield to the east of the River Ouse unsuitable for dairy use because of poor access and too ravaged by deer to be put down to arable, the estate fenced that area and began to use it for premium, well-shaped trees which will be sold through a new venture, Infinity Christmas Trees, that will supply other outlets as well as their own seasonal store at Gipps Farm.

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While the trees won’t be ready for three or four years, the Christmas shop opened in 2018 to build up market demand and has already proved successful selling decorations and locally sourced trees. Ruth added that with the estate continually looking for new opportunities, the team will be keeping a close eye on the Environmental Land Management scheme when details are known, with the enterprise underpinned by the dairy business.

Progressive approach, traditional values. 100% farm vets serving Sclater Estates and dairy, beef and sheep farms across Sussex farmenquiries@cliffevets.co.uk www.cliffefarm.co.uk 01273 473232 WWW.SOUTHEASTFARMER.NET | JANUARY 2021




FOR 2021


Very best wishes to everyone for 2021, we can only hope that this coming year is a little less interesting than 2020, although I do think it was probably a little less challenging for sheep keepers than it was for many others. Covid-19 restrictions have really not had a major impact on what we do on a day-to-day basis. Sheep still need to be tended, routine tasks continue to be routine tasks and at a grass roots level, things go on with relative normality, particularly with the first lockdown commencing during lambing. In reality the past year’s sheep trade was relatively kind to us; prices generally held up well throughout the season for finished lambs, culls and stores. It’s a pity about the wool trade, but there was nothing that we, either as individual producers or as a country, could do about it. One positive is that the drastic drop in wool prices has stimulated some thinking and initiatives into alternative uses for wool; all we need is some genuine support from Government, as part of their seemingly new green agenda, to further develop the uses of wool for insulation in all sorts of different situations, housing, cool chain, etc. We also start the Covid-19 new year on a really positive note; the rollout of the first tranche of the Covid-19 vaccines has now commenced (mid-December) and although this is a process that does not herald an immediate return to normality, it is a significant and encouraging step in the right direction. Things will take a while to settle once again but there is a distinct light at the end of the tunnel. It is some of the smaller, oft-ignored aspects that will make most of the difference once vaccine rollout really begins to have an impact; those all so important opportunities for social interaction with other producers, the chance to share problems and catch up on current issues. Keeping sheep can be a lonely occupation; many shepherds will admit to spending more time and, quite possibly, having more conversations, with their sheep and dogs than with other people, particularly during busy times such as at lambing. The social function of the auction market is an area that is all too frequently overlooked; just that chance to catch up, even if only briefly, can make a huge difference to some. “It’s good to talk,” as they say, and mental health is as much an issue among sheep farmers as it is among the general populace; similarly shows and sales. Being realistic, it is quite possible that we will be into another lambing before things really start to return to anything resembling normality, although I suspect that the new normal will not be quite the normal to which we have become accustomed. In addition to the pressures of an approaching lambing, there could be fresh challenges arising from the outcome of our final departure from the EU. Do remember to give a thought to fellow sheep producers, and maybe, if you have any concerns, a telephone call just to catch up on things and possibly more importantly, to make sure that they are OK; of necessity sheep keepers do tend to be a fairly pragmatic lot, but everyone deals with problems in a different way. At the time of writing (14 December) there has still been no resolution to the issues surrounding our eventual departure from the EU at the end of the transition period on New Year’s Eve. The only certainty, at this point in time, is that whatever the outcome, it is inevitable that things will change. Whether that is a transformation or revolution is still very much uncertain, as is the magnitude and direction of that change; even less clear are the potential implications for what we do. I suspect that, even at the time of circulation, the full impact of adjustments at the turn of the year will still be largely undefined, undetermined and unclear.


ALAN WEST Sheep farmer

One indicator of the desire by Government to change things is the DEFRA consultation document now in circulation on the “improvements” (my parenthesis) to animal welfare during transport. This appears originally to have been heralded as a precursor for legislation to ban live exports for slaughter and onward finishing, but appears to have morphed into a very much broader remit including adjustments to internal journeys and the conditions and duration of travel. Some of the proposals included within this consultation will, if agreed, have a significant and potentially damaging impact on what we do and how we transport our sheep, so it really is worth having a look at it and making your views known; the documents and response questionnaire may be found online, just search for DEFRA “Consultation on improvements to animal welfare in transport” December 2020. In principle, live sheep exports are a legitimate part of our trade in sheep meat with mainland Europe (at the time of writing), although in reality sheep for slaughter are not a huge part of the total live export trade. Personally, I do have some minor reservations with regard to live exports, particularly where there is onward transit and extended journeys, but most of the sheep trade is for sheep going into abattoirs in the north of France, Belgium or Holland, abattoirs that, for sheep coming out of the South East, may frequently be accessed in less time than transport to a volume abattoir in the UK. I have no issues with that. Putting exports to one side, the consultation appears to ignore the link between long journeys within the UK and the location of facilities for the slaughter and processing of lambs and cull sheep. George Eustice seems to have ruled out any Government support for a more equitable distribution of abattoir capacity across England and Wales and has made some singularly useless, bland, and unhelpful statements about the geographical distribution of UK abattoirs, ignoring the fact that distribution has nothing to do with capacity. This is not exactly rocket science but has been conveniently overlooked. The South East is home to a lot of sheep and has a number of abattoirs per se, but what it does not have is any volume capacity. A few small abattoirs in Kent and East Sussex, for example, have, in total, nowhere near sufficient capacity to cope with the volume of lambs



With the editor chasing us for our article thanks to a tight pre-Christmas deadline, Brexit remains unresolved; Covid-19, freshly mutated, is now out of control throughout the South East; an embargo on freight and personal travel has been introduced by “our friends” across Europe; lorries are queued, in the pouring rain, as Operation Brock is introduced and Christmas seems far from being “happy” for many of us separated from our families! So an auctioneer from Ashford harking back to 1979 and a hit from Ian Dury and the Blockheads seems a strange place to start. Ian Dury is sadly long departed and the Blockheads must now be part of the negotiating teams from London or Brussels, but we all do have many “Reasons to be Cheerful” if we can look past the obvious calamities and take a view of the bigger picture. Dury came up with “Cheddar cheese and pickle”, “a little drop of Claret” and “phoning up a buddy” amongst other advice, and nobody can fault these little gems, but livestock auctioneers are sadly more narrowly designed with a strange love of cattle and sheep, the cold steel and concrete within which we gather them and the varied and remarkable client base

PETER KINGWILL T: 01233 502222

www.hobbsparker.co.uk that comes along with them. But it works! It works for all of us because we are all in it together, pulling forward together, big and small, with an interest in the result not just today, next week or next year but way beyond for future generations who will still be there fighting against adversity in whatever form. 2020 has certainly had its moments, but we have got through it, and many sectors can report a successful year. Let us all be “cheerful” and grateful for all those we work with and rely upon because we most certainly could not do it on our own. Meanwhile we have been keeping busy at the market with two farm dispersal sales, as John Rossiter reports… Hobbs Parker Auctioneers LLP have held two farm dispersal sales in Kent this autumn despite the challenges that we all faced with Covid-19 restrictions. The first sale was held at Pett Valley Farms, Stowting, near Ashford on behalf of Mr Chris Peach, upon his retirement from farming. This sale took place in early October and was well attended by the machinery trade

coming out of Ashford market alone, thus imposing long journey times for sheep travelling to other areas to access that processing capacity. No review of livestock transport regulations can draw any meaningful conclusions without addressing the imbalance between areas of sheep production and the location of volume abattoir capacity. The apparent attempt to solve a perceived problem without first attempting to address the underlying issues is nonsensical. Another aspect of the consultation proposals relating to transport and temperature is contained in paragraph 40, a section that I find quite alarming and which simply defies logic; I quote: “In the light of this, we are proposing that no livestock or horse journeys will be allowed to take place if the forecast external temperature for the journey is outside of a temperature range of 5°C to 30°C, unless the vehicle is able to regulate the internal temperature within a 5 to 30°C temperature range for the duration of the journey by means of a thermoregulation system. This will apply to both short and long journeys.” Following this logic, it will be impossible for most producers to legally transport sheep into market on a significant number of days over the winter period; even a cursory glance at average weather data clearly shows that between December and March mean daily minimum temperatures (for the 30 year average) were below 5°C and at 5°C for November and April; six months of the year when temperatures may present a problem with transporting sheep. This is plainly a nonsense, either whoever drafted this document has virtually no understanding of the realities of sheep keeping or it is a glaring error. Maybe it should be -5°C, although even this could present problems in some areas and in some years. It seems that it is perfectly reasonable for sheep to be outside in temperatures below 5°C, sometimes well below freezing (in 2018, for example, I and many others, had ewes lambing outside with no problems in temperatures of -14°C), but not to put them in a trailer and transport them – or is this a sign of things to come? If you are concerned (you should be), get online and make your views known; you have until the end of the month (well almost, 28 January 2021). Don’t leave it to someone else – get typing! And do have a happy and prosperous new year!

from all over the UK, with the machinery presented to the highest standard. The second of these sales was held on the last day of October on behalf of John Paine Farms, Romney Marsh. Luckily, this was just prior to the second lockdown period; in fact the lockdown was announced just as selling was completed for the day! A bigger sale this time with over 600 lots on offer, drawing interest from genuine buyers, again from all over the country, with many placing distance bids to avoid attendance on the day. We were not so lucky with the weather on this day and we would like to thank both our customers and staff for their patience during what was one of the wettest sales we have ever held. A total clearance of items was seen on both occasions and prices were exceptionally high and well in excess of the vendors’ expectations, which goes to show there is a confidence in the agricultural sector. If you are considering retirement or restructuring, a farm dispersal sale is certainly the best option and the team at Hobbs Parker Auctioneers LLP is happy to discuss the options with you. John Rossiter is always available on 01233 502222. With best wishes to all from the whole team for a “cheerful” and successful 2021, with all that it will bring!

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Not knowing whether your bull is fertile, subfertile or infertile will have an impact on the length of the calving period, the percentage of barren cows and calf weaning weights. Current studies show that one in five bulls is subfertile, either on physical exam or semen evaluation or both. This most likely would increase to one in four bulls when libido and serving capacity are evaluated, writes Mia Ellis BSc (Hons) BVetMed MRCVS, from Westpoint Chelmsford. Subfertile bulls are not usually obvious, especially when several bulls are rotated around the cow groups for an extended period of time. A fertile bull has an average pregnancy rate of 60%; if he is in with the group for 12 weeks, the expected percentage of in-calf cows would be 98%. If the bull is subfertile and only has an average pregnancy rate of 30%, then after a 12 week mating period the percentage of in-calf cows would be 76%. This is much lower than the fertile bull but could be explained away by individual cow problems, illness in the group or external factors such as heat stress. However, if the bull had a pregnancy rate of 40%, which is subfertile, after a 12 week mating period the percentage of in-calf cows would be 86%. This is often considered an acceptable number, when considering the age of animals or problems at last calving, so probably wouldn’t be investigated. If this reduced fertility is put into profit lost by a reduced > Pre-breeding bull exams are a cost effective number of calves it is more significant. The average way of reducing the risk of using subfertile bulls cost of one finished steer currently is £1,240, which prolapse. Both can lead to strictures or adhesions preventing the bull from fully is a potential loss of £14,880 for a subfertile bull with a pregnancy rate of 40%. extruding his penis. It is ideal to examine the fully extended penis to check for Therefore, the value lost from reduced calves reared outweighs the cost of the any deviations, haematomas and papillomas which can hinder serving ability. bull’s fertility test. Most of these conditions can develop during the breeding season as well as Just as in breeding cows, the bull’s fertility is reduced by stress, systemic before, so it is important to keep an eye on the bull during breeding. illness, lameness, back injuries, extreme body conditions and parasitic burdens. Next a semen sample is collected via electro-ejaculation. Colour, volume and Any abnormalities or injuries to the penis, prepuce or testicles can temporarily consistency are noted before it is examined under a microscope. This provides or permanently make a bull infertile. This can change throughout and between information on motility, percentage of normal and abnormal sperm and any mating periods, so it is important to examine the bull before each mating abnormal cells such as white blood cells in the sample. Based on this, the vet period. will pass, fail or recommend to retest the bull if it’s possible the reason for Pre-breeding bull exams are a cost effective way of reducing the risk of subfertility is resolvable. using subfertile bulls, although they do not eliminate the potential for illness or Infectious diseases are an important factor in fertility and can be tested trauma during the breeding season that can affect fertility. Close observation of for and vaccinated against. IBR, BVD and Leptospirosis can reduce fertility the bulls during the mating period is also important, as it provides information and cause abortions. It is important to include the bull in any disease control on how he is performing physically and whether he is actually mating. programmes and, if buying in, make sure his disease status is known. Unless the The bull breeding soundness exam (BBSE) consists of a physical exam and bull is naïve then there is the potential of him passing on venereal diseases, such evaluation of the semen. Libido and serving capacity can be assessed, but this is as campylobacter, which reduces the fertility of both cows and bulls. a more difficult process so is often advised only if there is still concern over the So to avoid any loss due to poor fertility in the bull, make sure his disease bull’s fertility. The physical exam should indicate any signs of systemic illness, status is known, any lameness dealt with and a BBSE performed a few months lameness and under or over body condition. before breeding season. Examination of the scrotum can reveal abnormalities of size or consistency, such as orchitis and epididymitis. For a bull over 24 months of age, his scrotal circumference should typically be greater than 34cm, although there are If you would to discuss anything covered in this article contact your some breed variations. Anything smaller and there is reduced testicular tissue, local Westpoint practice meaning a smaller volume of semen is produced. If this is the only abnormality ANDY RICHMOND KATHY HUME EMILY OZOLS and the bull is with a small group of females, then the overall fertility of the Westpoint Horsham Westpoint Ashford JACK BALKHAM group shouldn’t be affected. T: 01306 628086 T: 01306 628208 Westpoint Sevenoaks However, if there are sperm abnormalities, or the bull is with more than E: info@westpointfarmvets.co.uk T: 01959 564383 50 cows, fertility will be reduced. 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> Left: Champion Beast with Vendors – Gerald and William Ketley with Buyer John Coleman. Middle: Gerald and William Ketley with Overall Champion and Reserve Show Champion in Show at Colchester with Steven Ellis Partner of Stanfords. Right: Champion Sheep Chris Reekes of La Hogue Farm Foods and Buyer George Debman of Ipswich

GRAHAM ELLIS FRICS FAAV FLAA For and on behalf of Stanfords T: 01206 842156 E: info@stanfords-colchester.co.uk

www.stanfords-colchester.co.uk With December and the Christmas trade very much upon us as this report was being written, the livestock market remains strong and more cattle could be sold every week, as has been reported for many months. Quality cattle are finding a ready outlet, with retail and wholesale buyers competing strongly. This was also the case with sheep sales, where prices are well above 12 months ago and again more could be sold to advantage. The uncertainty of Brexit, no further comment to be made here, has put some doubt on the future, but that was not seen while this report was being written and the resulting trade has been very good. In Colchester the Annual Prime Stock Show and Sale was held on 1 December 2020. It was a somewhat different show, with a lack of public and the judging taking place in a completely different way. We also had to restrict the classes, but a very successful day was had, with excellent prices received for a quality show of cattle and sheep. The cattle show was somewhat lower in numbers than usual but well renowned local cattle judge Mr John Coleman, wholesaler and retail buyer of stock for his butchers and wholesale outlet at Boxted, was presented with a difficult choice for the championship. After due deliberation, he awarded the Overall Championship and the Olivers Perpetual Trophy to W A Ketley and Sons of Fingringhoe, Nr Colchester, Essex, represented at the market by Gerald and William Ketley. The beast was a superb Limousin heifer weighing 648kg, which was also awarded the Arthur Chalke Perpetual Trophy for the Best Heavy Heifer in the show and the Best Limousin Bred Heifer in the show. After strong bidding, the beast was sold to the judge for his shop in Boxted at 405p/kg (£2,624.40). The Reserve Champion was also from the same vendors and was awarded the Reserve Best Beast in show together with the Best Heavy Steer in show, winning the Roy Brazier Memorial Trophy. The beast

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was also awarded the Best Limousin Bred Steer in the show. The beast, weighing 670kg, was again sold to the judge at 280p/kg (£1,876). At Colchester we have always tried to encourage butcher weight beasts, and this year the Broad Oak Farm Perpetual Trophy for the Best Butchers Beast under 550kg was again awarded to the Ketley family for a smart Limousin X heifer weighing 498kg. This was purchased on behalf of Chas Bowers Butchers of Holland on Sea, Essex at 400p/kg (£1,992). The Best Steer under 550kg was again awarded to the Ketley family and purchased on behalf of J R Creasey Butchers, Woodbridge at 315p/kg (£1,713.60). Again, we have always encouraged home-bred cattle and this year the Eric Stanion Memorial Trophy for the Best Home Bred Beast was awarded to Richard Criddle of Kenninghall, Suffolk and purchased by Allman Fowler of Fowler Brothers, Burnham on Crouch at 300p/kg (£1,686). The reserve in this class was again a superb Limousin X heifer from W A Ketley and Sons, purchased by Tony Cracknell for his shop in Ipswich at 345p/kg (£1,738.80). We then moved onto the unhaltered cattle in the show. This year the Joe Papworth Memorial Trophy for Best Unhaltered Beast in show was awarded to Geoff Freeman of Bredfield, Nr Woodbridge, Suffolk for a very smart steer which sold at 300p/kg to the Judge (£1,893). The Best Unhaltered Beast of the opposite sex of the Joe Papworth Trophy was awarded to a really smart heifer from Messrs Raven Brothers, Mettingham, Suffolk and purchased by George Debman for his shop in Ipswich at 350p/kg (£1,921.50). It was also good in the unhaltered classes to see Tony Keeling of Stowmarket, Suffolk, being awarded both the reserve in the steers and heifers, one being purchased by George Debman, again for his shop in Ipswich at 325p/kg (£1,569.75) and the second purchased by Tony Cracknell at 295p/kg (£1,368.80).

It is always good to see home produced cattle making a premium return. The show cattle were tremendously well supported by all buyers; many more could have been sold to advantage, with all heifers in the show classes, including non prize winners, averaging 303.96p/kg and all steers averaging 278.5p/kg. Again there was a superb show of sheep presented in front of judge Mr George Debman of Ipswich, who buys cattle and sheep in the market every week for his shop. Making a difficult choice from a wonderful selection of mainly continental sheep, the judge finally awarded the William Gray Perpetual Trophy, together with the Best Pair of Strong Texel Sired Lambs (awarded the Wiston Trophy Best Texel Sired Lambs in the market) to Chris Reekes of La Hogue Farm Foods, Euston. After strong bidding this pair sold at £300 per head (508p/ kg) to the judge for his shop in Ipswich. The George Debman Trophy for the Best Continental Sired Lambs other than Texel was awarded to Tom Biela of Ickingham and again purchased by the judge at £120 per head (272p/ kg). A new class this year was Best Traditional Bred Lambs, awarded the Colchester and District Meat Traders’ Trophy and presented to a very smart pair of South Down Lambs presented by the Lugsden family and sold at £90 per head (273p/kg) to Wick Farm Meats, Layer de la Haye. All in all, a tremendous show of sheep met a fast strong trade throughout, as did all the non show sheep. We look forward to 2021 presenting stock from regular vendors of quality cattle and sheep for our growing number of retail and wholesale buyers. Always feel free to talk to any auctioneers in any part of the world to discuss maximising the value of your stock. The partners, staff and supporters of Colchester Market wish all a far happier 2021 than 2020. We are all convinced that the way forward is to support live markets.





Old habits die hard, so I am still slightly inclined to listen to Farming Today at 5.45am, but seldom manage to stick with it. Apart from the very odd snippet, over the past 10 to 15 years I have seldom heard such a misnamed programme. Everything has to be ‘balanced’ by including the extreme ‘wet’ views such as Packham, Mombiot and the ‘badger huggers’. It’s a farming programme for heaven’s sake! Listened to, in the past by farmers, until we have increasingly given it up, for just these reasons. Recently we were being given another DEFRA update on the latest plans to turn England from a food producing land to a wild flower and forest vista. To cover much of these islands, which should be producing crops to feed our growing population, into parks. One day there will come a crunch. We are farmers, not park keepers. One day the food will not be available from the likes of Africa and Brazil, where they are cutting down the very trees the world needs for its green lung, only to increase the very problem Governments worldwide are trying to solve. Yet still our Government listens to the ‘real experts’ like Packham and Countryfile. Amongst the redundant stock barns around the farms these days, the one that stumped me was our old, albeit part-robbed, milking parlour and dairy. It stands almost empty now. It is a solid, brick built building, too good to demolish but, for some time, I thought that such could well be its fate. The old milking pit running through much of its centre, with drains now located at the wrong levels, was also a big complication. Then one day, back in September, when we were up on the hills amongst the spruce in Scotland, with peaty mountain water tumbling down the deep Red Burn beside us, it suddenly came to me. Why don’t we turn it into a water bottling plant? Soon the plan was taking shape in my head. If you wonder what I am talking about, let me explain… Long-term readers (with very good memories) may remember an article I wrote in 2010 about a visit from that world famous water diviner/ dowser, sadly the now late George Applegate, who identified, to within four and a half inches and to a metre’s depth, where we should sink a borehole to find almost limitless drinking water for the herd. Of how it was drilled, and how his prediction was proved so accurate. The water passed muster, too, when I brought flasks of the clear, cold liquid to mix with farmer friends’ whiskies after our summer bowls evenings. Then in October we needed to redirect the borehole supply away from some barns the vineyard now leases, so the pipe was rerouted down the upper farmyard, direct into this old dairy. Now to the next stage. I spoke both to my wife (who Richard Wood describes as ‘Management’)

> Young roe deer in the garden after helping itself to some buds

VALUES SEEM CRAZY and to Emma. They thought the idea was interesting, but we agreed we shouldn’t undertake it ourselves. I have always been pretty wary about investing in something I don’t really understand, perhaps other than slow racehorses. So we decided to float the idea and see, so to speak, what came to the surface. While the actual bottling process is well developed and efficient (although expensive), it is the testing regime, together with the marketing outlets, which need to be worked on. Problems are possible at both ends of the process, both are crucial. One needs to be certain testing is perfect, while, at the other end of the process, the marketing has to be pretty efficient too. So this is where we are at the moment. We already have genuine interest, but some way to go. It’s a pity bottled water isn’t generally drunk as a mixer with wine, or there would quite likely be a ready market for some locally, since a top brand of an exclusive hotel and restaurant chain is being developed next door. Emma will share the task of promoting the scheme, as she is increasingly involved in my ‘Ideas’ department. So, as it develops, it will be another potential ‘string to our bow’. The sad fact remains that a litre of premium bottled Natural water sells for as much as two to three times the price of every litre of the milk our old herd produced all those past years. When one thinks of the effort and work that goes into producing such a wonderful food as whole


milk, food which can be used in so many ways and in its basic state can sustain life, then compare it with water, however pure? Values seem crazy, and our local tap water is excellent. Yes, we need water to live, but cannot live off it; unless vegan? We will now have to see how things develop. One of our main tasks these past couple of months has been clearing up fallen trees and now redundant cattle fences. Unusual amounts of timber have been gathered and the new hedge trimmer has been busy tidying the old meadows into fields where the plough could get closer to the hedgerows. Doubtless a few walkers will be upset to see the flailed branches, yet they need to remember the speed natural vegetation regenerates, so within a few months there will be little to show for the work of those flails. I have even taken the new tool to some of our garden hedges although a number of them have already been well pruned by our little group of roe deer who seem to believe the garden was planted for their benefit. I think they will need some firm lessons, and very soon.

NICK ADAMES Former dairy farmer




With my woolly hat perched on > Calf pneumonia my head and unkempt ginger beard poking out underneath my facemask, it’s safe to say that I looked a bit bedraggled on my recent TB test; the cold weather comes as a surprise every year. “Hands. Face. Space.” has been a familiar message used by Boris in recent months to control the spread of one respiratory virus which left me thinking if a similar slogan or phrase could be applied to calf pneumonia? The most common cause of respiratory disease in cattle is also viral, with Parainfluenza (PI3) and Respiratory Syncitial Virus (RSV) causing primary airway damage. This allows for secondary infection with various bacteria which are often found in healthy calves, and a subsequent bacterial pneumonia ensues. In other cases, these bacteria can cause a primary pneumonia which is often preceded by a stressful event causing immune system suppression e.g. weaning, housing, BVD infection and trace element deficiencies. Calves need to be transitioned well before weaning because the sudden change in food, housing and groups can be significant stressors. As a rule of thumb, the slower the transition the less stressful it is for calves. Mitigating the risk by making simple adjustments, such as supplementing silage outside and thereby minimising the extent of the dietary change, or gradual weaning, where cows and calves can see each other but not suckle, can help to reduce stressors. In the lead up to housing it is essential to ensure that building space and ventilation are adequate and that any maintenance from the previous year is completed. Adequate ventilation reduces the build-up of respiratory bacteria and viruses, but too much can lead to draughts which in turn can lead to pneumonia outbreaks. A housing assessment can be conducted by your vet in the months preceding housing. Finally, vaccination plays a key role in preventing a pneumonia outbreak. There is a wide range of products on the market, and each farm has a unique disease profile. Post-mortem examination of animals which have succumbed to infection is cost effective and can provide important information about what is causing the problem, with a vaccination regime implemented accordingly. So there we have it. “Mitigate. Ventilate. Vaccinate.” It’s not just the Downing Street boffins who can come up with a snappy slogan. I’ll let the readers decide whose they prefer.


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The thorny issue of rental payments for telecom mast sites may ease following a decision by the Upper Tribunal, which has set out three stages to take when settling disputes. Since its introduction in 2017, the Electronic Communications Code has resulted in numerous disputes between landowners and operators trying to agree on rental terms under its new provisions. “A recent case involving a telecoms mast in woodland on a rural estate in the South Downs National Park saw the Upper Tribunal set the rent at £1,200 per year,” explained Kate Russell, policy adviser to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV). “The landowner and infrastructure provider couldn’t agree on site sharing, rights to upgrade and rental value, so the Upper Tribunal agreed to impose the rights which were fundamental to the tenant’s business model.” The tribunal adopted a three-stage approach to the rental value, which took into account the particular characteristics of the site. “The three-stage approach can now be used to help landlords build rental

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Assess any alternative use value of the site. “For the small South Downs woodland site in the middle of a rural estate it was £100 per year, but where a site has genuine prospects for a more valuable alternative use – such as in a yard suitable for outdoor storage – the landlord should provide evidence to support a higher figure.”


Consider the additional benefits which the agreement gives to the tenant. In this case, they included a right to enter the landlord’s adjoining property to carry out necessary works which were valued at £150 per year – on other sites this sum might be more or less than that, depending on the circumstances. The tenant’s right to a rolling break clause after five years was agreed to be worth £100 per year, or 5% of the rent. “This is a common term in telecoms agreements which is of real benefit to the tenant,” said Kate. Other benefits which should be paid for include the right to keep the existing mast, to maintain connections to an electricity supply and to carry out pruning or trimming of the landlord’s trees. In total the Tribunal awarded £600 for this element, but in other circumstances the parties might produce evidence to support a higher or lower figure.


Consider the adverse effects on the landlord. “In this case the tribunal found evidence of the impact of third-party access to the heart of a rural estate, occasional use of a generator (with associated noise and vehicle movements to re-fuel), concerns over the potential impact of future upgrading and loss of amenity,” Kate explained. In this case the tribunal awarded £500 per year to reflect these issues. The level of rent imposed in the South Downs case will be disappointing to some landlords, she admitted. “The Government said it expected to see rents come down and I think that most landlords have accepted that principle. Some will be surprised to see it as low as £1,200 per year, but it’s considerably more than the offers of less than £100 per year which operators were originally making. “However, the tribunal suggested that where terms were agreed between the parties, rents might be twice as much as where it imposes terms, to allow for an element of incentive and to avoid the risk and cost of going to the tribunal.” Landlords should also remember that if they are negotiating a consensual agreement, they should reserve the right to make future compensation claims, as there is no statutory opportunity to do so at a later date, something that will only arise where the tribunal imposes an agreement, said Kate. “Taking advice from an experienced valuer can help the landowner reach a suitable agreement, but if the parties can’t agree then seeking dispute resolution could help to resolve matters.”

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figures for their particular site,” said Kate. “The message from the tribunal is clear. Landowners have to make a careful assessment of the benefits and burdens imposed by an agreement on their site and provide evidence to support their arguments.”




PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE What will proposed changes to the planning system mean for rural land owners?

In August 2020 the UK Government launched a consultation exercise on the most radical reforms to the planning system in decades, details of which are set out in the white paper Planning for the Future. The consultation closed on 29 October and the government is now considering whether and (if so) how to take forward the reforms. The Government’s objective is to speed up and modernise the planning system and significantly increase the number of new homes being built. There have been many attempts to achieve this objective over the years, but these have generally built upon the existing system, which was devised in 1947. In his foreword to the white paper, the Prime Minister described the current proposals as “radical reform unlike anything we have seen since the Second World War”. Under the existing planning system, local planning authorities each draw up a local plan identifying sites which are suitable for housing development. Local planning authorities issue regular ‘calls for sites’ through which owners can put forward their land for inclusion in the local plan. Sites identified in the local plan as being appropriate for development still require a specific grant of planning permission before they can be developed. Normally outline planning permission is obtained in the first instance; this establishes the principle of development, with reserved matters approval subsequently secured for the detail. If the Government’s proposals for reform are implemented, then it will result in a move away from local decision making on individual applications towards something more akin to a zoning system. All land in England will be put into one of three categories. These are:

• Land suitable for growth • renewal areas; and • protected areas. Growth areas would be deemed suitable for ‘substantial development’. Sites in this category would automatically have outline planning permission. It is likely to apply to areas suitable for new settlements and urban expansion, which could include existing rural sites, as well as previously developed land or regeneration areas. For landowners who are interested in the development potential of their land, and whose land falls into a growth area, the proposals set out in the white paper will include some welcome changes. For example, the new proposal would remove some of the lengthy parts of the current process relating to granting outline planning permission. However, feedback on the consultation will ultimately decide exactly how this looks in its final format. Renewal areas would be considered suitable for smaller scale development. The Government envisages that this will include existing built areas but also small rural sites within or on the edge of villages. Planning permission will still need to be obtained, but there will be a presumption that it will be granted for certain uses considered suitable in such areas. Most rural land will fall into the category of protected areas and will be subject to more stringent planning controls. The white paper includes a list of land likely to be in this category, including green belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas, local wildlife sites and areas at risk of flooding. Significantly it also includes areas of existing open countryside unless identified as a growth or renewal site.

Concerns have been raised about the proposals in the white paper by environment and conservation-focused organisations. The National Trust, conservation charity and also the UK’s largest private landowner, has published an open response to the white paper addressing some key concerns. Notably, they identify the need for clear mechanisms for considering assets on rural land, such as hidden archaeology or important and endangered species. Similarly, they note the requirements for the planning system to work with other initiatives to help tackle climate change and highlight a lack of detail on this, as well as how it will support the government’s 25-Year Environment Plan. For landowners keen to ensure the existing rural character of their land is preserved, further clarification about how the proposals will support this may be needed. This shift towards zoning, proposed by the Government, will require interested parties to engage in the local plan-making process at an early stage. Whether you are looking to develop or protect your rural land, failing to ensure that sites are appropriately ‘zoned’ at an early stage will have significant consequences for future development.


Partner, Brachers LLP T: 01227 949547 E: leemay@brachers.co.uk www.brachers.co.uk

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The further detail behind the reduction of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) has led many farmers to re-evaluate whether or not to enter a Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) or to wait and see what the new Environmental and Land Management scheme (ELMS) entails. Savills food and farming consultant Stuart Nicholls suggests it is not a case of either/or and is more an opportunity to take advantage of the next round of the established CSS while awaiting further detail on ELMS. Countryside Stewardship will once again open for applications in the new year and it pays to be organised ahead of time, with now a good time to consider scheme designs, and ensure mapping is all up to date and land use is compatible with proposed options. With an increased interest in CSS likely this year, it is worth considering the benefit of non-competitive offers versus the competitive mid-tier or higher-tier agreements. It is worth remembering that under a CSS, farmers are paid for the area of option that is entered into the agreement, and the agreement does not have to be a whole farm agreement. For example, planting one hectare of marginal land currently in an arable rotation with winter bird food pays £640 per hectare per annum. In some cases, this will generate a higher gross margin when compared to a poor yielding arable crop. By not only identifying marginal areas and stewardship options that best suit these, but where options can fit into the rotation on a parcel level, farmers are able to take advantage of receiving a guaranteed income for the next five years. The removal of the greening requirements for the BPS has provided another opportunity to consider CSS. In previous years, claimants would need to allocate approximately 5% of arable land to greening, with features such as fallow land and buffer strips common. However, there is now an opportunity to be paid for delivering environmental benefits on this land, which was often relatively marginal from an arable cropping perspective. To encourage CSS take up, the Rural Payments Agency has introduced some practical changes to schemes starting in 2021, such as a simplified inspection process, the removal of certain penalties for over-declaration and, crucially, the ability to break the scheme without penalty to allow the farmer to enter ELMS. Landowners and farmers will be able to sign up to ELMS from 2024 and it will have been nationally rolled out by 2027, which is planned to coincide with the end of the Basic Payment Scheme. So what is ELMS? Although the finer details remain relatively unknown, we do know that it is not a replacement for BPS or CSS and money will be paid on the basis of providing public goods.





ELMS will be made up of three components: • The Sustainable Farming Incentive – this will be broad and open to all and is seen as a stepping stone from current CSS agreements. It will pay farmers for actions they take to manage their land in an environmentally sustainable way. • Local Nature Recovery – will provide a focus on local priorities and encourage farmers and land managers to work together to achieve a common objective such as flood management or broader educational access. • Landscape Recovery – this will support the delivery of landscape and ecosystem recovery and require greater changes in land use such as woodland creation and peatland restoration. The administrative and financial aspects of ELMS are yet to be announced and pilot schemes will be carried out in 2021. At this stage it is therefore unknown how financially rewarding the schemes will be. By entering a CSS, income will be guaranteed for the agreement length and agreement holders will be able to transfer to ELMS without penalty; providing some certainty in this period of uncertainty. For further information or advice, or to discuss a potential stewardship scheme, contact Stuart Nicholls from Savills food and farming team in the South East.

STUART NICHOLLS Associate T: 07786 944 666 E: snicholls@savills.com www.savills.co.uk

NEW HEAD OF OFFICE AT SAVILLS SEVENOAKS Rural director Michael Wooldridge has been appointed head of Savills’ Sevenoaks office. Michael, who specialises in the strategic management and development of rural estates in the South East, manages a team of 20 across estate management, food and farming, farm agency and forestry. Alongside this role, from 1 January he will head up the large, multidisciplinary office of 75 employees covering all aspects of property including residential sales and lettings, residential


development sales, planning and development. Michael has been a director at Savills since 2015, having previously been an equity partner at Cluttons LLP and then Smiths Gore. He is also a Kent CLA committee member, parish councillor and president of Sevenoaks Rugby Club.

MICHAEL WOOLDRIDGE Director T: 07979 811 511 E: mwooldridge@savills.com

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137.5 ACRES


ARABLE FIELDS A fine ring-fenced block of Grade III arable land at Molash, Canterbury, extending to 137.5 acres (55.64 ha) has come to the market with Lambert & Foster. The property, known as Bower Farmland, comprises two large, gently undulating arable fields with long road frontages to both the Canterbury Road and Shottenden Lane. Conveniently situated, with good road access via the A252 to Ashford and

Canterbury, it is thought that Bower Farmland is likely to appeal to farming buyers across the county. Alan Mummery, head of farm and land sales, commented: “After an unprecedented low supply of farmland throughout 2020, it is heartening to be launching a commercial block of arable land so early in 2021.” He continued: “I am anticipating significant interest from farming buyers looking for practical

opportunities to expand their acreage. The land is currently fallow and awaits spring cropping by a new owner.” The land has water connected and BPS entitlements are included in the sale. Bower Farmland is offered at a guide price of £1.275m and further information can be obtained from Alan Mummery or Will Banham at Lambert & Fosters’ Paddock Wood office on 01892 832 325.

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For Watsons of Heathfield, like everyone else, 2020 has been a strange year, with problems none of us could have predicted. The early spring market started as normal and then shutdown came, bringing with it a huge amount of obvious uncertainty. However, the usual high levels of interest generated by small to medium sized parcels of land continued, as did the source of that interest; a combination of private and lifestyle buyers as well as the ever present equestrian ones. Land with a useable building on it always commands a premium price, as does land in areas where there is good riding with no need for boxing up in order to access it. In addition to the normal sources of reasonably local enquiries, there was a notable amount from potential purchasers from further afield, those with a new found wish to acquire somewhere peaceful and private to escape to, simply for the pleasure of being in the countryside.

As breaks abroad ground to a halt, a resurgence in holidaying at home fuelled many enquiries from those wishing to establish camping/glamping sites in the hope that the trend may continue in the future. News of existing business being fully booked, and the hot spring and summer, seemed to boost those enquiries further. On a larger scale, there are still farmer buyers with rollover funds available, as well as investors and others keen to purchase either a farm or extra land, but with the uncertainty over Brexit, many of those who are thinking of selling appear to be holding back. Demand from potential purchasers looking for farms, rural properties and land of all acreages (pasture, arable or woodland) is desperately outstripping supply. Many buyers are still demonstrating the strength of their desire to purchase by telephoning regularly to ask about any potential instructions. There appears to be a growing fear, borne out of desperation, of missing an opportunity, especially

> 37 acres sold in Groombridge, Kent


with the added bonus of the Stamp Duty â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;holidayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, through overlooking an email or not checking the internet regularly enough. Recent sales that demonstrate continuing strong demand include a well-located 30-acre block of pasture near Hailsham that attracted a good deal of interest before being sold to a nearby farmer. Another parcel of grassland, close to 40 acres on the Kent/Sussex border, attracted a great deal of attention from various sectors, including equestrian enthusiasts, local and not-so-local farming businesses and those wishing to create or expand relatively small-scale farming enterprises. This competition to purchase was created by Watsons despite the fact that a national agent had previously been unsuccessful in finding a buyer. As a result of the high level of interest generated, the need arose for the purchaser to be identified by means of requesting best and final offers. This led to a pleasing and welcome result for the relieved vendors, a firm of creditors.




The planning system has been in the headlines recently, with much consternation regarding the Government’s proposed reforms. It has been some achievement to unite the Royal Town Planning Institute, Local Government Association, Town & Country Planning Association, Home Builders Federation and The Land Promoters & Developers Federation, but the Government managed to achieve it. Put simply, all of these organisations have stated that while the current system isn’t perfect, it is delivering more new houses than we’ve seen for a very long time and to rip it all up and start again would result in a big step backwards. What was so controversial that united these groups that are not normally in unison? At the heart of the controversy lies a new (albeit as I will discuss later, not so new in reality) local housing need calculation that was to be imposed upon local authorities in England. Following the imposition of this number, they will need to put in place a new Local Plan within 30 months (the current average is seven years). These plans will categorise areas for growth, renewal or protection. Each category will bring with it different routes for securing the necessary consent for development. Designation as a growth area will in effect grant outline planning permission. Renewal areas will receive in principle support for development, albeit applicants will still need to submit a planning application beforehand. Protection areas will require submission of planning applications, as now but against potentially a less flexible policy background. As the housing need figure has been decided already, local authorities will be expected to deliver

this housing requirement in full. In some cases, the figure that was recently consulted upon by the Government was substantially higher than the current figure for some local authorities, particularly those in the South East of England. Inevitably, this got Conservative MPs in the home counties very interested in the new reforms. As a result, change was expected and inevitably arrived; the local housing need calculation which suddenly became known as another ‘mutant algorithm’, was no more, and replaced by the original version, which rather confusingly could also be described as an algorithm… albeit one that generates less housing need in the home counties. However, the White Paper is still intact for now, albeit further consultation on these reforms is expected. So, what does all this mean for landowners? In short, the new system is designed to be front loaded; in order for your land to be considered suitable for growth, a substantial amount of information will need to be provided to the local authority before they decide which sites to allocate. To my reading, the level of information required is akin to that required for an outline application, with its associated level of detail and resultant costs. Depending on the size of site, the cost could easily extend to six figures and beyond. Bearing in mind that an average local authority will receive hundreds of sites when carrying out a ‘call for sites’ exercise, your submission will need to be very special indeed to stand out from the crowd. More generally, organisations such as the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) have quite rightly identified that a “considerably more nuanced” approach to the proposed ‘zoning’ is needed or perhaps more or different kinds of

‘areas’. The CLA suggests that the Government should aim for an approach that encourages investment in existing and new rural businesses, and sustains rural community needs too. For the reasons set out above, the CLA argues that “the default position for all open countryside must be that it automatically falls into the ‘renewal area’ land-type,” which would require planning authorities to map all the open countryside in their administrative areas as renewal area status. There is much to admire in this suggestion, as it would then be up to planning authorities and local residents to argue, with supporting evidence, why an area of open countryside should be classified as growth or protected areas. The difficult part of this equation lies in assessing those areas within National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is a tricky balance to encourage those communities to thrive without causing harm to the natural environment. All of the respondents I listed at the start of this article agreed that a more streamlined, efficient planning system was a good thing. Not many of us can object to that. However, we have a long way to go yet to see how many of these reforms will survive moving forward and what the resultant impact upon landowners will be. At present it seems that what is proposed will make it more difficult for landowners to promote alternative uses for their land and will stifle the ability for rural enterprises to expand and diversify. It almost certainly makes the promotion of land for development more expensive, with obvious implications for those who choose to go it alone rather than in partnership with a land promoter. Watch this space...

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Planning & Operations Director, Catesby Estates plc T: 01926 836910 E: davidm@catesbyestates.co.uk W: www.catesbyestates.co.uk



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Strength, Security, Style Contact us for a free quotation 01269 831831 enquiry@shufflebottom.co.uk www.shufflebottom.co.uk Shufflebottom Ltd Cross Hands Business Park, Cross Hands, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire SA14 6RE

www.gjelgarconstruction.co.uk For more information contact us: t: 01233 623739 m: 07860 414227 e: simon@gjelgarconstruction.co.uk


Based in Lewes, East Sussex



 01273 492404  info@formabuild.co.uk  www.formabuild.co.uk We specialise in the supply and construction of steel framed buildings together with the repair and refurbishment of existing farm buildings. Based in the heart of Sussex, covering the South East. Sussex builders since at least 1605. Forma offer all aspects of steel framed construction and cladding together with groundworks and electrical fit out if required.

All our buildings are


“You tried the others, now try the brothers”

All our panels are marked

All aspects of steel work, cladding & groundwork. Family run business with 45 years experience.

100% British designed & built

Over 35 Year’s experience

Site visits Call to arrange a site survey


All refurbishments & repairs undertaken. Call for a free quote today.

Gary White 07812 599679 Jason White 07941 274751




Supplying profiled roofing products to contractors, builders and farmers

We will continue to work through coronavirus, and we will be available to attend site and estimate customers projects and/or insurance repair/works. We have now insisted that our employees wear suitable personal protection equipment on any such works until further notice.

visit www.southernsheeting.co.uk for our full range or call 01342 315 300 to speak to our friendly sales team NATIONWIDE DELIVERY




S3111 SS SE Farmers ad 93x60mm.indd 1

REFURBS, BIG 6 ROOF SHEETS, ROOF LIGHTS, RIDGES, VERGES, VALLEY GUTTERS, BOX GUTTERS, STOCK BOUNDARY GUTTERS, ASBESTOS, SHEETING Single Sheet To Whole Roof Roller Shutters Accidental or Storm Damage Works Demolition Refurbishments Waste Clearances 17/12/2020 15:27


SOUTH EAST CLADDING LTD Professional Services to the Agricultural, Industrial & Equestrian Sectors


FREEPHONE: 01233 659129

from BT land-line

MOBILE: 07813 142 145 charlie.woodger@btinternet.com

Family run business with over 45+ years of experience, from concept to completion. Family business Family runrun business


with over 45+45+ years of of with over years


experience, concept experience, from concept Steel framefrom buildings, to completion. to completion. cladding and associated works. Steel frame buildings, Steel frame buildings, cladding andand associated cladding associated

Specialists in: works. works. • Agricultural, Specialists in: in: equestrian & light Specialists • Agricultural, industrial buildings • Agricultural, light equestrian & light •equestrian In house&fabrication industrial buildings industrial buildings •• In Planning services house fabrication • In house fabrication available • Planning services

Kenward Construction based in Horsham, West Sussex offer a full design and build service for your next steel framed building including composite cladding, concrete panels, roller shutter doors and bespoke designs to meet individual planning conditions. Kenward Construction also offer a wide range of services offering a truly one stop shop for your next farm building project. Demolition, plant hire, access • Planning services available roads, drainage, sewage treatment plants, rainwater harvesting, biobed wash lanesconstruction.co.uk available01323 848684 lanesbuildings@btconnect.com downs, paving, concrete foundations / slabs, walling and site landscaping. lanesconstruction.co.uk lanesbuildings@btconnect.com 01323 848684 ALL WORK ALL WORK



Arrange a site visit with one of our contracts managers to discuss your project in more detail by emailing enquiries@kenwardgroundworks.co.uk or call 01403 210218



01323 848684

To advertise in South East Farmer telephone 01303 233883



Agriculture ~ Cold Storage ~ Equestrian ~ Industrial ~ Waste Recycling • Agricultural Buildings • Cold Store Buildings • Equestrian Buildings • Industrial Buildings • Waste Recycling Buildings TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883

01323 890403 www.danddconstruction.co.uk info@danddconstruction.co.uk

• Structural Steel • Drawing Services • Design Services • Mezzanine Floors • Custom Steelwork






Fully insured and licensed. 23 years family run business. Covering all KENT & SUSSEX We will continue to work through coronavirus, and we will be available to attend site and estimate customers projects and/or insurance repair/works. We have now insisted that our employees wear suitable personal protection equipment on any such works until further notice.

• STEEL FRAMED BUILDINGS • CLADDING • ERECTING • • EXTENSIONS • ALTERATIONS • CONCRETE PANELS • ROLLER/SLIDING/PERSONNEL DOORS • Tel: 01732 460912 Mobile: 07976 287836 Email: sales@shortlandstructures.com


To advertise in South East Farmer telephone 01303 233883

LET’S KEEP WORKING! Asbestos Sheet removal Roof & gutter repairs New roofs & cladding Refurbishments Roller shutter doors Demolition & clearance




Drainage Contractors Working with farmers since 1947






Contact: Chris, for a no obligation quotation: Tel: 07813 142145 or 01233 659129 (7 days)






(01622) 890884

info@brownsdrainage.co.uk FIELDEmail: MAPPING www.brownsdrainage.co.uk DRAINAGE SURVEYING DESIGN SWA DRAINAGE

 




 DESIGN  Specialists in agricultural and industrial buildingsDRAINAGE M








FOR FURTHER INFORMATION Survey Aluminium liners USliners OR VISIT OUR Removal PLEASE CONTACTPVC Disposal WEBSITE: Accessories

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION SHEETING PHONE: 01795 880441 • FIELD MAPPING • DRAINAGE SURVEYING Complete buildings PLEASE CONTACT US OR VISIT OUR • DESIGN • DRAINAGE New roof EMAIL: system for james@swattwood.com conversions Repairs – Rooflights



www.attwoodfarms.com PHONE: 01795 880441

 07864 823 476  07889 481618  penfoldprofiles@btinternet.com www.penfoldprofiles.co.uk

TOM: 01795 880441 or 07884 664035






LAND DRAINAGE, EARTHWORKS, GROUNDWORKS & CONSTRUCTION FULL LAND DRAINAGE SERVICE sportsfields, amenity and irrigation systems using Mastenbroek trenchers


PONDS, LAKES & RESERVOIRS construction and maintenance GROUNDWORKS & CONSTRUCTION primary excavations, aggregate sub-base, agricultural construction and concreting

To advertise in South East Farmer telephone 01303 233883

ENVIRONMENTAL HABITATS water course maintenance and improvement works

For all enquiries call 01233 860404 07770 867625 (Harvey) or 07768 115849 (Dave)


Grubbing, timber & groundwork services • orchard grubbing

• land clearance

• windbreak removal

• excavations

• timber extraction

• cultivations

• fallen tree removal

• pond dredging

• ground contouring

• reservoir construction

W.H.Skinner & Sons

01622 744640 - 07711 264775 www.whskinnerandsons.co.uk



PELLCROFT www.pellcroft.com | sales@pellcroft.com | 01526 342466

Fencing Services

Specialists in Stock, Deer and Equestrian Fencing Covering the South East Tel: (01403) 700509 Mobile: 07836 219344


Manufacturers of Chestnut Fencing Products Hardwood gates


HIRE SPECIALISTS ACROSS THE SOUTH EAST • Toilets & Showers for hire • Large range of Temporary canteens, stores & welfare units

Cleft post and rail

• Effluent Tank Emptying

Stakes and posts

• Events also catered for with marquees & toilets

Chestnut fencing

CWP fenci f n ng

Manufacturers of centrifugal, low volume and portable fans, air tunnels, drive over floors, grain stirrers and gas burners

Tel: 07985298221 www.cwpfencing.co.uk


Tel: 01622 843135 Fax: 01622 844410

Redhill Farm Services: Fencing Division


enquiries@fourjays.co.uk www.fourjays.co.uk


Supplied and erected & Repairs Tel: 01737 821220 Mob: 07768 931891 Email: redhillfarmservices@gmail.com To advertise in South East Farmer telephone 01303 233883 TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883


CLASSIFIEDS FROM £65 To advertise in South East Farmer telephone 01303 233883





VINEYARD for viticulturists in Great Britain ™

07860 728204 Hay & Straw Merchant | Machinery Haulage



Find us on Facebook 

PRESSURE WASHERS SALES, SERVICE & HIRE OUT of Pressure Washers, Vacuums, Scrubber Dryers, Sweepers & Dry Steamers from the leading manufacturers! Fully Stocked mobile engineers with full manufacturer training. Over 45 YEARS in trading!



The independent monthly publication dedicated to viticulture and wine making in Great Britain


STORAGE TANKS Horizontal Cylindrical Tanks From 54,500 litres to 27,250 litres (12,000 - 6,000 gallon) Single and twin compartments, with cradles

Bunded Tanks


From 27,000 litres to 10,000 litres (6,000 - 2,000 gallon) With cabinet, guage and alarm All suitable for fuel, water and effluent Call today for details

Tel 01638 712328



CLASSIFIEDS FROM £65 To advertise in South East Farmer telephone 01303 233883



COMPLETE OUR CROSSWORD TO WIN Booze free Biddenden box









9 10


12 13 14











North American bird of prey (4,5) Openmouthed gaze (4) What people call you by (9) Saw to make precise angled cuts (5) Throw (4) Illuminated sky (7) Wading bird (13) Leaves (7) ----- cereal (6) An appliance for cooking vegetables (7) Fish (4) Foxglove (9) A legal procedure to cancel a marriage (9) Lawn (4)

1 2 3 4 6 7 10 13 14 15 17 18 19 21 22 23 24

Appropriate (5) Songbirds (5) Consumes (4) Romantic and alluring attractiveness (7) Small flash of light (5) One of the owners of a business (7) Cut (4) The sun for example (4) Surgical procedure (9) Fried potato (4) Donkey (3) Edible herb (5) Meat and gravy encased in pastry (3) Sum (5) A small tool for making holes (3) Precise (5) A suspended plank for storing books (5)




1 6 8 9 11 12 14 16 18 20 23 25 26 27


Crossword by Rebecca Farmer, Broadstairs, Kent

PRIZE ANAGRAM: Parasite (8,9)

To enter, simply unscramble the

anagram (8,9) using




If dry January is on the cards we’re

the green squares.

Email your replies with your name,

booze free Biddenden box. For more

sef.ed@kelsey.co.uk Correct entries will be entered into a draw which will take place on 25 January. The winner will be announced in the February edition. TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883






S 11










please visit www.biddendenvineyards.com or call 01580 291726. *Subject to availability




E 16

information about the vineyards,






















R 18






























G 15








E 26







A 20





W 25



O 12




E 13





offering readers the chance to win a

address and phone number to


































Correct answer: Monogastric LAST MONTH’S WINNER: Sharon Sheffield from Heathfield, East Sussex




The asset finance provider for the Farming & Agricultural community in the South East. At One Threadneedle we offer more than funds - we unlock possibilities and enable growth. We thrive on building a trusted and open relationship with our customers, ensuring we understand everything from the bigger picture, to the smallest level of detail. To see how we could support your business contact our Field Based specialist Sean Phelan on 07887 737 549 – email sean@onetnl.com or call the office in Tunbridge Wells

onethreadneedle.com 01892 489 489 LOCAL


21, Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN4 8AE •




One Threadneedle is a credit broker, not a lender. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (839978)

Profile for KELSEY Media

South East Farmer January 2021  

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South East Farmer January 2021  

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