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Est 1982

April 2020





Claas act now offers much more


125 years supporting local farm businesses




Nigel Akehurst visits a community owned biodynamic farm and shop

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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 Liz Mason Email: sef.ed@kelsey.co.uk Photography: Martin Apps, Countrywide Photographic

APRIL 2020

CONTENTS 04 05 08 11 16


Schools open for farming children. Coronavirus bites deep. Cost cutting key to profit. Resilient and ready farms. Keep badger cull.


ADVERTISEMENT SALES Jamie McGrorty 01303 233883 jamie.mcgrorty@kelsey.co.uk



AD PRODUCTION Studio Manager: Jo Legg jo.legg@kelsey.co.uk Graphic Designer: James Pitchford









MANAGEMENT CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Steve Wright CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER: Phil Weeden MANAGING DIRECTOR: Kevin McCormick FINANCE DIRECTOR: Joyce Parker-Sarioglu PUBLISHER: Jamie McGrorty HR & OPERATIONS MANAGER: Charlotte Whittaker RETAIL DIRECTOR: Steve Brown RENEWALS AND PROJECTS MANAGER: Andy Cotton SENIOR SUBSCRIPTION MARKETING MANAGER: Nick McIntosh PRINT PRODUCTION MANAGER: Georgina Harris PRINT PRODUCTION CONTROLLER: Kelly Orriss DISTRIBUTION Distribution in Great Britain: Marketforce (UK) 2nd Floor, 5 Churchill Place Canary Wharf, London, E14 5HU Tel: 020 3787 9001 PRINTING Warners Midlands Plc 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.


It’s bizarre that since coronavirus hit the headlines, the shelves in the shops have been empty of toilet rolls. Dr Tim Leunig’s latest proclamation adequately displays his total lack of common sense.

57 58







The Pulborough Road dealership has always enjoyed a good reputation while also offering an impressive range. After 125 years supporting local farm businesses, Brachers is clearly a firm that takes a pride in its heritage and in the long-term support.


Putting the culture back into agriculture.



Nick is overcome by the kindness of neighbours.







Exceptional sheep prices. Lambing always seems to be a series of milestones.



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.

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Land army needed to pick fruit and veg


While the UK battles coronavirus it is business as usual on farms. Meetings may be cancelled and many of us have been asked to self isolate, but farmers will continue to produce food for the public’s shopping baskets. But for many UK consumers, fear that the UK will shortly be in lockdown has fuelled mounting panic. Supermarket shelves across the UK have been cleared. Basic food items, including pasta, rice, long life UHT milk and meat are among items that are being stockpiled. Retailers have attempted to allay fears and reassure the public that stockpiling is unnecessary. But coronavirus, like Brexit, is placing UK food security, and our self sufficiency, under scrutiny. We rely on food imports from the EU to feed the nation and government figures show the UK’s self sufficiency has been declining for the past 30 years. About 61% of all food eaten and 75% of food that can be grown in the UK is produced in this country. In 2018 UK food, feed and drink totalled £47.0 billion – 70% of this came from the EU. Fresh fruit and vegetable imports amounted to £6.3 billion. We know there is an opportunity for UK farmers to supply more of the nation’s food – particularly fruit and veg. Over reliance on imports leaves us vulnerable to disruption to international supply chains. Given this it would be reasonable to expect government to make sure that there are no barriers to home grown production. So why haven’t government ministers recognised that the British fruit and vegetable sector is facing an acute labour crisis? With movement curtailed due to coronavirus how will the migrant workers that our growers rely on reach the UK? Without them there is a real threat that this season’s apples, pears, soft fruit and vegetables will not reach the shops and instead be left rotting unpicked in fields. Government recently expanded the pilot seasonal workers scheme to allow 10,000 seasonal migrant workers to work on UK farms – but industry says it needs 70,000 workers to pick, grade and pack our fruit and vegetable crops. The Home Office announced recently that it plans to introduce a points based immigration system in January 2021. This will block unskilled workers from accepting jobs in the UK – and together with the inadequate seasonal workers scheme is a double labour whammy for growers facing a labour shortfall. The House of Commons Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee is set to investigate the issue. This is welcome – growers whose businesses are under threat need all the help they can get. They need support from influential MPs but most importantly they need help to recruit workers to help them harvest quality British food to feed the nation. Could a national land army be the way to go? Or could we move to class agricultural work as an essential occupation exempt from future immigration restrictions? Extraordinar y times need extraordinar y measures to ensure quality British food reaches the British public. The country is gearing up to face an unprecedented challenge from coronavirus and securing food supplies grown by our farmers is vital.

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

SENTENCING DELAYED Sentencing of two men involved in a fraud trial regarding Rural Development Grant applications has been delayed. Agent Robin Turney and former ICA employee Simon Fitch were due to be sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court towards the end of March, but the hearing was adjourned because the judge in the case was unable to proceed. A new date will be arranged. Turney, of Pools Barn Farm, Little Alne, Henley-in-Arden was convicted earlier in the year of one count of knowingly or recklessly furnishing information that is false or misleading. Fitch, of Old Hadlow Road, Tonbridge, had earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of making or supplying articles for use in fraud and gave evidence on behalf of the prosecution. Turney acted as agent for farmers and growers and submitted applications on their behalf for grants available under the Countryside Productivity Scheme. The jury heard that the fraudulent applications had been put together by Fitch and forwarded by Turney. James Thacker, prosecuting on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), said Fitch had not only produced quotations on behalf of ICA but had also created quotations that purported to be from other growers.


Children with parents working in the food and farming industry will be able to attend school government has confirmed. The decision to include agricultural and food supply workers as “key workers” has been welcomed by farming leaders in the South East. An NFU South East spokeswoman said: “Maintaining a safe, secure supply of homegrown food and the smooth running of our food supply chains is absolutely critical during this difficult time and we are pleased that workers involved in food production have been included in the key workers list. “Farmers and processors are working around the clock to maintain stability and continuity of food for the nation and it is good news that the Government has recognised the important role they play.” Key workers include those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery and those providing other essential goods, including hygiene products and veterinary medicines.


Two South East farmers will join NFU president Minette Batters to represent 46,000 farmer members following the NFU’s leadership election. Former vice president Stuart Roberts replaces Essex farmer Guy Smith as deputy president and Tom Bradshaw, who farms near Colchester joins the leadership team as vice president. Hertfordshire arable and beef farmer Stuart Roberts said: “British farming is facing a great many changes and challenges, from trade and standards to water management. It is important we demonstrate that British agriculture can be part of the solution to these issues and I look forward to working with Minette and Tom as we work towards creating a productive and profitable future for our members.” Tom Bradshaw former NFU national crops board chair said: “I look forward to working with Minette and Stuart to build a thriving food and farming landscape serving generations to come.”


The farming industry’s determination to ensure a continuing supply of meat reaches the country’s consumers means markets will remain open for the foreseeable future. With the country under the tightest restrictions seen for decades, Hobbs Parker director and auctioneer Peter Kingwill has given a firm assurance that the market at Ashford will stay open for business. “The situation on markets is that discussions with DEFRA and government have been positive,” he stressed. “They want to see regular movement of animals from farm to abattoir and there are no suggestions of closure. “Clearly, though, in the light of the coronavirus crisis we are being careful about the social aspect of markets and we are stressing that only those who have direct business at the market should attend. It is no longer a place for family and friends to visit.” Sellers and hauliers are being encouraged to deliver their animals to the site, leave them


REMAIN OPEN with market staff and then leave to avoid any unnecessary contact. “It means the market is much quieter, but it means we can continue to satisfy demand from consumers,” Peter commented. Those attending the market are being urged to wash their hands regularly, keep a sensible distance away from staff and other clients and follow government advice on self-isolation if they feel unwell. As to the future? “There are no guarantees, but I see no reason why the market shouldn’t continue.

Farmers are doing an important job supplying the country and we will do everything we can to make sure that continues.” Graham Ellis, from Stanfords, confirmed that the Colchester livestock market would also be staying open, although the general market, which includes poultry, is no longer operating. “We are following the advice of the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association and are operating the livestock market accordingly,” he said. “We need to support the industry and the country.”


Photo ©Forestry Commission While the markets that are crucial to the country are continuing to operate, virtually every other event, conference, open day or get-together planned by the farming community over the coming months has been cancelled as coronavirus bites deep into the lives of every one of us. One of the first events to fall foul of the virus was a planned mass rally in Westminster towards the end of March at which farmers were planning to call on the government to protect the industry from cheap imports in post-Brexit trade arrangements. The National Farmers’ Union, which had expected hundreds of farmers to support the rally, postponed the event to a later date as the scale of the coronavirus outbreak became clear. The NFU’s South East Communications Adviser Isobel Bretherton confirmed that the organisation had also cancelled all Basic Scheme Payment meetings and would be “liaising closely with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and farming charities over the coming weeks.” The AHDB has itself cancelled all events up to and including 17 April. Advice on coronavirus is available for farmer and grower NFU members on the organisation’s CallFirst helpline. One of the biggest casualties in the South East is the Kent County Show, which the Kent County Agricultural Society has now confirmed will not go ahead. The next show will be held from 9 - 11 July 2021.

The society said it had “investigated every possibility” before concluding it had “no alternative but to cancel the show”. The AgriSouth event planned for Faversham Showground on 14 May has also been called off, while another popular public event axed in response to the virus outbreak is the Heathfield Agricultural Show which had been scheduled for 23 May. The Cereals event in Cambridgeshire has also been postponed, although organisers have announced ambitious plans to hold the show online, with working demonstration videos, seminar sessions and expert advice all planned for 10 and 11 June. Other rural events cancelled in the wake of the virus were the High Weald Academy Lambing Weekend on 21 and 22 March and The National Fruit Show’s Annual General Meeting, which was due to take place in Marden on 31 March and is now expected to be re-scheduled by the end of July. Meanwhile the ever-popular LEAF Open Farm Sunday planned for 7 June was another victim and has been rescheduled for 20 September. The event website described it as “the inevitable, safe and sensible decision”. The Annual General Meeting and Conference of British Apples and Pears Ltd scheduled for the end of March has been cancelled, while the Sussex Food & Drink Awards 2020 banquet has been rescheduled to Wednesday 1 July. Other rural events are likely to have been cancelled and readers are advised to check in each and every case.

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SEF 2020





With Covid-19 spreading across the world and the UK introducing severe restrictions on the movements and activities of people, as has already happened in other European countries, the availability of seasonal workers for fruit and vegetable harvesting may prove even more difficult than previously thought, writes Richard Shepherd-Barron. Coronavirus has already forced the cancellation of farming exhibitions and county shows alongside such things as crop and stock inspections and farming leaders continue to monitor the impact as the crisis unfolds. However, severe containment measures have stopped the movements of workers across Europe, with many seasonal migrant workers now trapped inside their home countries. There is already expected to be a huge shortfall of seasonal workers to meet the needed 70,000 to 80,000 this year, thanks to the Government’s new immigration controls, and these difficulties just add to the problem. Many crops are already under fleece – open field strawberries for May being an example – but they could end up rotting in the fields with no one to pick them. This is the craziest of situations, with fruit desperately needed but the growers unable to harvest the crops as happened in one or two areas (notably Scotland) last season. One possible solution is that in the UK over the next three months there will be many sectors that cannot support workers and some of these people could help, providing they are willing to do agricultural or horticultural work and are allowed to move about the country. Sarah Boparan, operations director at the major



RECRUIT LOCALLY? farming recruitment organisation HOPS, said: “We urgently need to recruit a UK labour force who can help harvest crops. We are aware that there are many people facing sustained periods away from their usual employment or studies and we can offer paid positions for those who are willing to work”. HOPS feel people from the hospitality and catering industries may well be interested as well as students and job seekers. As South East Farmer went to press, the agency had already received over 8,000 applications. Chris Newenham, joint managing director of Wilkin and Sons, makers of the famous Tiptree brands and with an 850 acre fruit farm in Essex, said: “In 2019 we had 300 farm workers, many from Bulgaria, and we’ll need 300 to pick our 2020 crop of strawberries and other fruit”. The company is currently planning the best way to deal with the possible shortfall in numbers. All these concerns prove the vital importance of safeguarding the UK’s food security, especially at a time when there are longer term worries that British farmers and growers could be unable to compete with cheaper and lower quality food imports as a result of the post-Brexit deals currently being negotiated by the Government. Professor Andrew Fearne, who is Professor

of Value Chain Management at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said recently: “This coronavirus outbreak is bringing a severe short-term shock; it could help highlight our food system’s reliance on imports and migrant workers. “No one knows what is going to happen - we can only speculate on what might happen. But food doesn’t carry the virus, so it would require a significant shutdown for us not to be able to get the essentials of food and medicine. I’m not a Doomsday merchant. I would rather look at this in the long term.” He added: “This is not going to last forever. I haven’t heard of lots of people starting to panic about the impact of coronavirus on food but I do think these sort of shocks will focus our attention on the food security debate.”


The UK is not alone in these problems, with Germany already facing a huge shortfall in the 300,000 seasonal workers they need, with eastern European workers shut off behind closed borders. In the Huelva region of Spain the strawberry crop is ready, but of their 15,000 Moroccan workers, 9,500 are still in Morocco, with ships and aircraft blocked from travelling.


Before the coronavirus crisis created both more uncertainty and a potential new pool of labour, at least for this year, bosses at Kent fruit growers A C Goatham and Son had warned of a “massive disruption” to the future supply of British fresh produce and to their business following the Government’s plans for a new points based immigration scheme. An open letter sent to MPs and posted on the company’s website expressed the company’s “extreme disappointment and disbelief” with the planned immigration scheme due to come into effect in January 2021. It said the plans could lead to a food ‘crisis’ that would see the 400 million apples and pears grown each year at Goatham’s unpicked. “If it is implemented, it will affect the future, successful operation of our business and risk the jobs and livelihoods of hundreds of our employees and also those in the businesses that support and supply ours,” the letter warned. “Put simply, without continued access to seasonal harvest workers we have no business, and our business is one that significantly contributes to the


local and national economy, with a current annual gross value added (GVA) of £28.5m.” With A C Goatham growing one in three of all British apples and pears eaten in the UK each year, the company warned that not being able to recruit a seasonal workforce would cause ”massive disruption to the future supply of British fresh produce and food across the UK”. The company employs between 800 and 1000 seasonal workers a year across its 25 farms in Medway and Kent, while seasonal work also supports hundreds of full time jobs at its Flanders Farm depot in Hoo. It said that despite visits to schools and careers fairs in Kent and nationally to raise awareness of opportunities within the business and the wider fresh produce sector, A C Goatham only received “a handful of applications from British people for seasonal jobs each year”.




Farmers have welcomed a move by supermarket chain Morrisons to make immediate payments to its smaller suppliers to help them during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The faster payments will support their cashflow during a difficult time for the British economy, Morrisons said. The move will help businesses that provide up to £1m of turnover with Morrisons – including suppliers of local food, and farmers that deal direct with Morrisons, such as those providing eggs and livestock. David Potts, Morrisons chief executive said: “We are Britain’s biggest single foodmaker and we want to be there for the smaller foodmakers, farmers and businesses that supply Morrisons.

We’re a British family business and we will be doing our best to support them through this challenging period.” Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “These measures will support our farmers and food producers in their vital work of feeding the nation. “We already have a highly-resilient food supply chain in this country and I am continuing to work closely with Morrisons and other retailers on their response to coronavirus. We’ve been clear that we will do whatever it takes to support people and businesses.” Morrisons has around 3000 small suppliers including 1,750 farmers that will benefit. The temporary payment terms are expected to last until the end of May before being reviewed.


BRITISH FOOD MPs are asking government to introduce rules to ensure food imports meet British animal welfare and environmental standards. Members of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee have tabled an amendment to the Agriculture Bill, calling on government to back its commitment to upholding British food standards in law. If agreed by the House of Commons the amendment would ensure that food products imported under any future trade deal meet or exceed British welfare and environmental standards. The move comes as more than 15,000 people signed a NFU petition calling on government to commit in law that British food standards will not be

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undermined in future trade deals. Neil Parish, EFRA committee chair, said: “Lowering food production standards should not be a bargaining chip to be used in future trade deals – allowing imports to be produced in ways that are illegal here would severely undercut British farmers. For these reasons, we are calling on the government to uphold its commitments by amending the Agriculture Bill.” The amendment follows an EFRA committee hearing that heard evidence from farming, animal welfare and trade sector representatives. NFU leader Minette Batters said the petition is “another clear signal that the public do not want to see food on their plates that has been produced far below the standards they expect of British farmers”

DEFRA has opened the basic payment scheme (BPS) application window for 2020 payments. The claim window for existing countryside stewardship (CS) and environmental stewardship (ES) agreements has also opened for applications. DEFRA is asking farmers to apply as soon as possible to ensure applications are submitted, without penalty, ahead of the 15 May deadline. All BPS payments will be made in sterling following Brexit. The change will make no difference to the timing of BPS 2020 payments, DEFRA says. These will be sent from December 2020 alongside countryside stewardship (CS) and environmental stewardship (ES) payments. Government has confirmed the level of funding available for BPS for 2020 is the same as for 2019 and the exchange rate is the same as last year.

POACHER SENTENCED Thames Valley Police says it will take every opportunity to arrest anyone suspected of illegal hunting after a man was sentenced for poaching in Wallingford. Hugh Connors of Starling Walk, Hampton, Richmond-upon-Thames, was convicted in his absence of one count of daytime trespass in pursuit of game – poaching – in a hearing at Oxford Magistrates’ Court. The conviction follows a Thames Valley Police investigation. Mr Connors was fined £750 plus a surcharge of £75 and court costs of £775. Police said Mr Connors was stopped and searched in November last year after he was witnessed trespassing on land, with dogs, at a farm between the A4130 and Slade End in Wallingford. He was later arrested and charged the same day.

CPRE SUSSEX AWARDS Entries are invited for the CPRE Sussex Countryside Awards to recognise sustainable or low carbon initiatives that support the Sussex countryside. Categories include: Empowering Communities; Connecting People and the Countryside; and Promoting Nature and the Countryside. Entries must be submitted by 30 April.





Eggs from a free range unit in Sussex are back on supermarket shelves after an RSPCA investigation into welfare standards found hens were in good health. RSPCA inspectors visited Hoads Farm after the charity suspended the farm’s membership of its assured farm certification scheme. The move followed video footage taken by animal rights activists from a Brighton based group showing poor hygiene conditions at the award winning free range unit. The RSPCA has reinstated the farm’s membership of its assured farm scheme, on certain conditions. Following the RSPCA’s decision to lift the farm’s suspension South East Farmer understands Tesco is now stocking eggs from Hoads Farm. An RSPCA statement said “We were shocked and appalled by the video and understand why people were upset. “Any allegations of poor welfare on RSPCA Assured certified farms are taken extremely seriously. That’s why we immediately suspended the farm, pending

investigation, as soon as we were made aware of the video.” The statement said inspectors had carried out “a thorough investigation” including “multiple visits to the farm and extensive interviews with the staff and management.” “Following our investigation, we have reinstated the farm’s membership but with special measures. These include three unannounced visits from our specially trained staff within the next six months.” It added: “We are pleased that the farm has taken on board all of our concerns and fully addressed all of the problems identified. Our specially trained assessors are satisfied that the RSPCA’s strict standards are now being met, and the current flock of hens is in good health. “We are further reassured of the farm’s commitment to hen welfare by the installation of CCTV, to which we have access.” Representatives from Tesco also visited the farm, following the RSPCA’s investigation and no issues were raised.


Cutting costs is key to boosting profits for mother and son farming partnership Christy and Hew Willet, Parklands Farm in Essex. At the final meeting of the Chelmsford Monitor Farm programme Mr Willet said benchmarking using AHDB software had an immediate impact on their bottom line, most notably by reducing their machinery fleet and lowering production cost. Mr Willet said: “Benchmarking made a huge difference in the short term. By disposing of machinery we didn’t need, we were able to save money and invest in other areas of the business.” Soil health is now higher on their agenda and one of the biggest changes has been the decision

to re-introduce sheep. The farm now has 200 ewes incorporated into the arable rotation. The partners would not have considered grass or herbal leys three years ago. But after a talk by local farmer Ian Metson, at one of their meetings they did some research and are now benefiting from improved soil health. “We incorporated the sheep into the rotation by having cover crops. Ian really sold us the idea when he explained that using livestock in this way was, for him, better than any break crop,” said Christy. Teresa Meadows, AHDB knowledge exchange manager, said: “It is fantastic to have worked

> Christy and Hew Willet


with Christy and Hew, along with the local Essex farming community over the past three years. Their farm business has made significant progress in reducing the cost structure, bringing a wider diversity of crops into the rotation, changing establishment techniques and more, which has been shared along the way to the benefit of all. “We have covered a diverse range of topics through the Monitor Farm programme from marketing, achieving yield potential, carbon and borage to benchmarking, soils and robots. I look forward to seeing how these messages and learnings benefit arable businesses in the area going forwards.”




Farmers must protect their workers from potentially cancer causing welding fume, say the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its inspectors will review health and safety standards on farms across the country after a HSE safety alert was issued following new evidence showing exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause cancer. Scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer shows that exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer in humans. The HSE has updated its guidance to reflect the health risk. To protect workers’ health it says farmers must have adequate controls in place to avoid or reduce exposure to welding fume. Employers should be using local exhaust ventilation where effective and provide suitable respiratory protective equipment where necessary to protect workers in the metal fabrication industry from inhaling fumes. Adrian Hodkinson, HSE acting head of agriculture said: “Everyone involved in farming has a role to play. While welding carried out in the agricultural sector can be infrequent or of low intensity, employers still need to understand the risk they and their employees face in terms of exposure to welding fume and the simple ways they can be managed. “Farmers are reminded that death, injuries and cases of ill-health are not an inevitable part of farming.”

A West Sussex farmer has been shortlisted for the NFU’s Meurig Raymond Award set up to honour “unsung farming heroes” who champion British farming. Hugh Passmore, who runs a livestock and arable enterprise on the South Downs, at Applesham Farm, Lancing, was singled out for his educational work over 15 years with both the NFU and the South of England Agricultural Society. An NFU South East spokeswoman said: “Mr Passmore has devoted countless hours to hosting school visits on his farm, with his uncle Chris Passmore. “Every year, he has staged public displays, raising awareness of farming and food during the South of England Show, supporting NFU campaigns such as Back British Farming and lobbying decision-makers.

“A staunch supporter of the South of England Agricultural Society’s schools’ event, Hugh Passmore has also set up an educational zone within the West Grinstead and District ploughing match held on local farms each year.” The criteria for the award included farmers who work closely with the regional NFU team and branches on lobbying and campaigns, engaging with a wide range of people to champion farming interests. Terry Jones NFU director general said “The nominees are those unsung farming heroes who provide an authentic voice as part of NFU campaigns and who lobby tirelessly for a better trading environment both politically and commercially.” Farmers and growers from each county were put forward for the award which was won by Joe Stanley from the East Midlands region.


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NEWS Kent farmers and local businesses have helped a Snargate farming couple raise just under £27,500 for Air Ambulance Kent, Surrey and Sussex (AAKSS). The money was raised at a party organised by Wendy and Martin Body after Mrs Body was seriously injured in a car accident in July 2018 when she was taking her son, Harry, to school. Mrs Body, a farmer’s daughter and a paediatric occupational therapist, is still on long term leave from work after the accident left her with life-changing injuries, including nerve damage in one arm. She was airlifted to Kings College Hospital in London where she was treated for 23 fractures to both legs and arms as well as her spine, many of which were complex. She underwent five separate operations to have metalwork inserted to repair her multiple fractures, totalling over 30 hours of surgery. Her son Harry, who was 10 at the time, was also taken to Kings College with a lacerated spleen and broken collarbone. Mrs Body told South East Farmer a collision happened at high speed, on a main road notorious for accidents. The other driver, who was coming in


FOR AIR AMBULANCE the opposite direction, was thought to have had a suspected heart attack and died at the scene. Mrs Body was cut free from her car by Kent Fire and Rescue. “It took them two hours to cut me out of the car and I was airlifted to London,” she said. “It was one of those things that you think never happens to you but to someone else – but it did happen to me. The police said it was clear that it could have been a very different outcome. I was very fortunate that the Air Ambulance – an amazing charity that relies on fundraising and donations to raise over £11 million annually to deliver a 24 hour service – was available to transport me to London.” Mrs Body was in hospital for eight weeks but she didn’t start walking again until the end of September. After her first week in hospital her husband Martin, a Romney Marsh sheep and arable farmer, suggested they should fundraise

for Air Ambulance. They decided to hold a summer party in July 2019 for over 400 paying guests with a hog roast, live band and a raffle. The event was supported by the generosity of family, friends and local rural businesses who donated prizes, time and resources, helping to make the night a huge success. South East Farmer columnist and auctioneer Richard Woods helped raise £7,500 in an auction of experiences which included Spurs tickets, a ride in a vintage plane and a day at Ascot. “It was just amazing, people’s generosity blew us away, not only on the night of the party but in the difficult months following the accident,” said Mrs Body. “We just want to thank all those people and businesses who enabled us to give something back to a charity that you hope you may not need, but are eternally grateful that they are there in your time of need.”


The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is reminding dog owners that livestock worrying is a criminal offence following reports of fatal attacks during the lambing season. Farmers are also advised to report every case of livestock worrying to the police. Dog attacks can cause stress, injury and abortion and sheep can die from shock days after the event, says the CLA South East. Megan Lock, CLA rural adviser said: “We would advise owners to keep their dogs under close control when walking through fields of livestock, particularly sheep at this time of year and to always stick to public rights of way.

DOG OWNERS ADVISED ON LIVESTOCK WORRYING LAW “If you live near land with livestock in it, ensure that you know where your dog is at all times, make sure your property is secure and check dogs can’t escape at any time. It is the owner’s responsibility to keep their dog under control and we are also raising awareness about the potential consequences of not doing so. Livestock worrying is a criminal offence and a fine of


£1,000 can be handed out. “It is important that every instance of livestock worrying is reported to the police. This will allow for a more accurate picture of the scale of the problem to be built up and assist the police and government to determine what resources and powers are required in order to effectively tackle the problem.”


> Andy Bason, Newhouse Farm

> Nick Down, Yattendon Estate


Two farms in the South East are among four chosen to take part in a three year “resilient and ready” programme launched by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) and Corteva Agriscience. The farms will take part in a tailored programme of training, consultancy and trials, measuring their performance and sharing their experiences with other farmers across the UK. Nick Down, who has managed the farming enterprise of the 3,200ha Yattendon estate since 2017 on behalf of Velcourt is one those taking part. The Yattendon site includes 2,000ha of combinable crops established in a min-till system. Mr Down said the programme has come “at the right time” for the business. “We are large scale but a lot of the land is marginal meaning the best fields effectively subsidise the worst. So if we have to take land out of production to access the greatest benefits from a new era of agricultural policy then I believe the estate is well placed because of that I think this programme has come at the right time for our business. “I want to develop professionally and do as much

with technology and knowledge in house, rather than relying on outside experts. This will be equally important in the production of crops as it will in how we manage and monitor our natural capital. “Last year I spent a lot of time trying to better understand how we can affect our carbon footprint and I hope this programme will help us to fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge.” Sparsholt College graduate Andy Bason manager at Newhouse Farm, in Hampshire, which is also in the programme, said he wanted to be in the best position to offer solutions to the challenges which lie ahead. The 800ha estate has 600ha down to arable cropping which has been min-till cultivated for two decades. Areas of the farm are set aside for trials to test new crop management techniques and the farm includes 70ha of woodland, a small sheep flock and a pig herd. Newhouse Farm is a former AHDB Monitor Farm and LEAF Open Farm Sunday host. “I really enjoy the interaction with farmers and the public and that’s part of the reason why I applied for the resilient and ready programme – to grow that engagement,” said Mr Bason. “We host a number of visitors on the farm

and the science and technology we use blows them away. I’m really keen to get away from the stereotypes and be proud to show people what we do. “I also want to know more about the wildlife and biodiversity on the farm. I want to be able to measure it and improve the habitats and environment while understanding what the right thing is to do for the future.” He said: “I want to continue to use our platform to engage with the public and promote all the good things we are doing as an industry. As our sector evolves in the next few years, we will need to adapt to a new mindset of managing land and I want to be in the best position to offer solutions to the challenges that are coming.” The programme focuses on providing farmers with access to the best technical insight into their businesses coupled with the training to enable them to turn theory into commercial application. Practical work to measure and improve aspects of their farms identified as crucial by the participants will focus around Integrated Farm Management (IFM) and include soil health, water quality and biodiversity.

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Farming machinery and trade show Farm Expo has established itself as a key date in the agricultural calendar after another successful event organised by the Kent County Agricultural Society. Farm Expo took place at the Kent Showground on 4 March and welcomed 2,500 visitors and hosted over 110 trade stands, 32 of which were new to the event. Visitors got the chance to see the latest machinery and services for the agricultural industry from the large range of national and international manufacturers and suppliers. The headline seminar looked to the next ten years for farming. Phil Jarvis from the NFU Environment Forum, rural commentator Rob Yorke, and NIAB EMR Managing Director Mario Caccamo gave their insights into the next decade in agriculture including a discussion of the NFU’s Net Zero pledge. Farmers also had the opportunity to hear expert advice on diversification. Charles Trotman from the CLA, Brachers partner Lee May, and Kristina Boulden director at Romney Marsh Wools, spoke on why diversification is becoming increasingly important, what to consider when starting a project and gave advice on diversifying farm businesses.

SUCCESSFUL SECOND SHOW James Forknall, Chairman of the Kent County Agricultural Society, said: “The second Farm Expo has been a great success. We enjoyed a large turnout which shows the importance Farm Expo has in providing a place for farmers to meet their peers and see developments in the industry.” Farm Expo also celebrated the many farming businesses serving the industry with the Best in Show Trade Stand Awards. Crawfords Ltd and Ernest Doe won the award for Best Machinery Stand. Best Service Stand went to BTF and Lambert & Foster, both chartered surveyors, and McVeigh Parker won the award for Best Product for their display of specialist fencing. The Best New Stand went to

chartered accountants Chavereys. Julian Barnes, Kent County Agricultural Society vice chairman and local wine producer, said: “We had a fantastic range of trade stands this year representing all aspects of the farming industry. Farm Expo not just serves the arable and livestock sectors but the farming industry as a whole, including fruit and viticulture. It was great to have such a diverse range of businesses with us representing the broad nature of farming.” Farm Expo launched with its first event in 2019 and has continued its success into its second year. The showcase event for farming machinery, supplies, and services will return for its third year on 3 March 2021.



Environmental expert and farmer Phil Jarvis has dismissed as “clearly nonsense” a leaked suggestion from a senior government adviser that Britain could abandon agriculture and rely on imported food. Speaking exclusively to South East Farmer at the Farm Expo event at the Kent Showground, Mr Jarvis roundly dismissed Treasury adviser Tim Leunig’s claims – first reported in The Mail on Sunday – that the country did not need its own farming industry. Mr Jarvis, who chairs the NFU’s Environment Forum, added that the current concerns around the spread of the coronavirus and its effect on global transport suggested that the opposite was true, and that UK farming’s comparatively short supply chains were instead an example other sectors should consider copying. The leaked emails from Dr Leunig suggested that the UK’s food sector was not “critically important” to the economy and went on to claim that agriculture and fishery production “certainly isn’t”. He said the country could follow the example of Singapore, which he described as “rich without having its own agricultural sector”. Leaving aside the clear differences between the two countries – Britain has roughly 12 times as many mouths to feed as Singapore and covers an area of more than 93,000 square miles rather than 278.6 – Mr Jarvis was quick to point out that economics was only one part of a complex jigsaw. “Farming is a solution to lots of problems and this is not just about prosperity,” he said. “As well as producing great food, the sector plays a huge part in supporting biodiversity and in helping the country reduce its carbon emissions to net zero. “This is clearly nonsense, as a number of MPs have also pointed out. In response to Mr Leunig I would simply say: ‘Be very careful what you wish for’.” Mr Jarvis, who was at the showground to take part in a Farm Expo presentation entitled Future Farming – The Next Ten Years alongside rural commentator Rob Yorke and NIAB EMR managing director Mario Caccamo, also used the current concerns over the spread of coronavirus to dismiss the argument that the country could import all its food. “Looking at the way things are going, short supply chains might prove to be the answer across other sectors, not just in agriculture,” he said. Dr Leunig, as associate professor at the London School of Economics and a long-standing colleague of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s influential adviser Dominic Cummings, made his comments in emails sent to the National Food Strategy review. In the well-attended Farm Expo presentation, Mr Jarvis, head of farming, training and partnerships for the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, said the clear challenges facing the UK over the next ten years were around “net zero, biodiversity and climate change”. He pointed out that if farmers were to play their part in agriculture’s ‘net zero’ ambition then there had to be an agreed way of measuring their carbon footprint, and warned of a number of “unintended consequences” around environmental issues. “If we are going to plant trees then we need to plant the right kinds of tree in the right places– and we need to make sure that we don’t add to the planet’s

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problems by wrapping them in 100 million single use plastic tubes,” he pointed out. Mr Jarvis, who said farming was “on the front line”, urged the government to work in tandem with the sector and said farmers should join forces and take the lead, rather than waiting for Whitehall to respond to the challenges of climate change. He warned that social media was “here to stay” and said it was vital that misleading messages were countered by carefully expressed, evidence-based arguments. Mr Jarvis added: “We can produce food that is safe, affordable and good value” and said the challenge was to maintain high standards of animal welfare without pricing home-grown produce out of the market.


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A dog walker in West Sussex has been cautioned after a sheep died and two others were seriously injured following an attack by dogs on the South Downs near Lancing. The dog walker was cautioned and issued with a community protection warning, after the incident in February. Sussex Police has once again renewed appeals to owners, and commercial dog walkers, to keep dogs under control in the countryside. Erica Baxter rural police community support officer (RSPCO) said commercial dog walkers “bear a particular risk level” and she advised pet owners to ensure dogs are walked responsibly. “Unfortunately, livestock worrying is an all too common occurrence across Sussex and we’ve had particular problems in areas with excellent public access such as the South Downs. “It is important for all pet owners and commercial dog walkers to understand that allowing a dog to be off lead and out of close control within a livestock field can be considered to be livestock worrying, without any physical attack taking place. “We urge people to keep their dogs on a lead while they are walking in rural areas and around livestock. So often in these incidents the owners are horrified by what their dogs have done. It is true to say that even a single, gentle and loving pet dog can be hard to catch if it runs off; it can enter a field and once there, can chase or kill livestock. “Commercial dog walkers with multiple dogs from different homes bear a particular risk level and responsibility for awareness around this issue, so it is advisable for pet owners to ensure that their dog is also being walked responsibly when out of their own care.”

BE PHASED OUT Leading shooting and rural organisations will end the use of lead and single-use plastics in shotgun ammunition for live quarry shooting within five years. The group is calling for the support of the wider shooting community and says the change will benefit wildlife and the environment and safeguard the growing market for healthy game meat. A spokesperson said: “The shooting community must maintain its place at the forefront of conservation and environmental protection. Continued development of non-lead shot and recyclable and bio-degradable plastics means the time is right for a complete transition. “The five-year proposal allows for a smooth transition giving both the shooting community and the industry time to adapt. As organisations that serve our members, we will be leading the way with this transition ensuring that it is successful. “This is a significant announcement, but one the shooting community should not fear. British wildfowlers and other European countries have already moved away from lead without detriment to participation or performance. “Our organisations urge the shooting community to support the Gun Trade Association and cartridge manufacturers as they further develop ammunition for every situation involving live quarry. In doing so, they will enhance the shooting community’s reputation as the rightful custodians of our countryside.”

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), British Game Alliance (BGA) Countryside Alliance (CA), Country Land and Business Association (CLA), Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO), the Moorland Association (MA), Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) and Scottish Association for Country Sports (SACS) say significant recent advances in technology have enabled the transition to take place. Environment minister Rebecca Pow welcomed the move. “I would like to applaud these organisations for coming together to reach this decision. “It is a significant step for both wildlife and the wider environment and the government remains committed to ensuring a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship between shooting and conservation.”

MEAT CLAIMS CHALLENGED Meat substitute manufacturer Quorn and the BBC have updated information on the environmental impact of red meat on their websites. The move follows a challenge by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). Quorn had claimed “carbon emissions from livestock are greater than those of all global transport. The BBC had claimed that ‘cutting meat is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact’. The information has now been amended on its websites “to reflect current scientific research”, AHDB said. AHDB’s CEO Jane King wrote to the BBC in January to raise concerns about an online article. It used a 2018 Oxford study to support the claim the single biggest way consumers could reduce their environmental impact was to cut meat from their diets. But AHDB said a 2017 Swedish study disproves this and identifies three


more effective ways to positively impact the environment. The BBC supported AHDB’s concerns and amended the line to “‘one of the biggest”. Dr Jonathon Foot, AHDB’s head of environment, wrote to Quorn to raise concerns over four environmental claims made on its UK website. As a result Quorn removed its comparison between livestock emissions and transport and changed wording around deforestation and biodiversity loss. Dr Foot said it was important statements made around the environmental impact of red meat were properly backed up by companies and organisations: “In many cases, environmental claims are often made without full or in depth knowledge of the subject, which is incredibly complex. “As part of AHDB’s ongoing industry reputation work we will continue to challenge these claims when they arise.”

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Sir, The coronavirus outbreak is affecting all of us on a very personal level and it will undoubtedly provide significant challenges for many rural businesses over the coming weeks and months. During this adversity, it is likely that many of our members, who are a range of farmers, landowners and rural businesses, will need the support and services of the CLA and others more than ever. As a nation we have never been faced with a challenge quite like this. It is important for all businesses to be contingency planning and I would hope that the majority are already some way along this process. Areas such as cash flow, logistics, insurance, contracts and procedures to pay and protect employees, are just a few areas where business owners will be reviewing their processes. Diversified rural businesses such as those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors for example are being hit by a wide-range of cancellations and postponements. With social distancing now in place, it is making life increasing difficult for everyone from a personal and business perspective. We are monitoring announcements of business support from the government very closely and lobbying hard to ensure rural businesses get the support they need. The Budget recently introduced some welcome support for small and medium sized businesses, and this has now been increased with new financial measures announced by the Chancellor. Businesses in any sector of the economy who pay little or no business rates because they can claim small business rate relief or rural rate relief have not been overlooked. They can apply for a one-off grant of £10,000 each from their local authority to assist with ongoing business costs. You should contact your local authority if you have any questions about your eligibility for these, and other potential reliefs. We don’t know how long the coronavirus outbreak will continue to impact on every element of society. We must protect rural businesses through these very difficult weeks and months ahead to ensure we can sustain a vibrant economy once the risk and uncertainty begins to subside. MICHAEL VALENZIA, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, CLA

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BOOK LAUNCH EVENT Ringmer and Lewes Young Farmers’ Club has launched a book called, The History of a Young Farmers Club 1923 to 2007 by Ron Harrington. The book, launched at Ringmer Village Hall, starts with information about Northease Calf Club on how calves were distributed plus information about the local rabbit and poultry clubs. These clubs were the fore runners of Ringmer and Lewes Young Farmers’ Club affiliated to National Federation of Young Farmers in 1931.

Included in the book is a copy of the 1923 Jersey cow leaflet and the affiliation certificate to NFYFC dated 1931 both originals are in the club’s archives. More than 100 ex-members, and friends, together with the club president Gordon Fowlie MBE attended the event. On display were photos from 1923 to 2020 together with the infamous club scrapbooks. Mary Masters, club leader said: “I am absolutely certain by the many emails, I have received that

the ex-members, members and the farming community attending enjoyed the evening. I hope they will enjoy reading the book particularly as Ringmer and Lewes YFC is the oldest club in the county. Now for the centenary celebrations in 2031 only 11 years away.” The club’s next challenge is to see if we can put all the photos, slides, CD’s and paper cuttings onto some sort of modern technology in readiness for the centenary celebrations, she said.



Badger culling must be retained as “a vital tool” to control bovine TB in areas where the disease is endemic in badgers, says NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts. Mr Roberts, a Hertfordshire beef and arable farmer, was speaking after DEFRA set out “an intention to begin to phase out intensive badger culling”. Environment secretary George Eustice said the badger cull has led to “a significant reduction in the disease. But no one wants to continue the cull of this protected species indefinitely”. The move to phase out the cull came as part of the government’s response to an independent review of its 25 year bovine TB eradication strategy. Plans for the next stage include field trials of a cattle vaccine, plans to vaccinate more badgers against the disease and improved testing to intercept TB earlier. DEFRA announced that it “will now accelerate the work towards deployment of the cattle vaccine within the next five years” following “a globally significant breakthrough” by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Mr Eustice said: “The government intends to start deploying badger vaccination in areas where the four-year cull cycle has ended, alongside ongoing surveillance of the disease in badgers in that area. After the infection in the badger population is dealt with by culling followed by badger vaccination, it will allow other measures such as cattle vaccination to be more effective. “This is the combined approach needed to achieve the government’s goal of eradicating the disease by 2038.” Stuart Roberts said: “The NFU has always been absolutely clear that any move away from an intensive culling policy – whether that’s in five years, ten years or longer – should not be rushed and sufficient science and evidence must support any such move.


“In areas where TB in badgers is endemic, we must retain culling as a vital tool enabling industry to get on top of the disease quickly and reduce further transmission. “As DEFRA Secretary of State George Eustice acknowledges, there is clear evidence that badger culling as part of the government’s 25-year eradication strategy is working.” Mr Roberts said the NFU supports tackling the disease in every possible way but it is frustrating that too often culling and badger vaccination are given a false equivalence. “Vaccination may have a role to play in areas where TB hasn’t taken hold, but it is important to note vaccination has never been demonstrated to reduce the disease with the same efficacy as culling, nor has it ever cured an infected badger. “We welcome other measures to assist in eradicating this disease such as further funding and research into cattle vaccination and look forward to the results of field trials. However, we are still currently waiting for answers if an effective, practical and accessible cattle vaccine is achievable which can protect our cattle within a cost-effective framework.” Vets have welcomed DEFRA’s new TB measures as “a suite of sensible steps in the right direction”. James Russell British Veterinary Association (BVA) vice president said: “We welcome the move to increase the use of badger vaccination in a coordinated and targeted manner.” But Mr Russell said there are “unanswered questions on the effectiveness, humaneness and practicality of DEFRA’s badger vaccination plans”.

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> The chicken doesn’t know about social distancing



> The cow is telling her about it

Does anyone have any toilet paper? It’s bizarre that since coronavirus hit the headlines, the shelves in the shops have been empty of toilet rolls. Australians are apparently fighting over them, so it’s a world-wide dilemma. Mysteriously, none of the symptoms of Covid-19 include a need for an excessive use of this product. Could there be a marketing opportunity here for us shepherds? Before the invention of toilet paper, wealthy Romans used wool and rose water for this task! Other suggestions used include leaves, grass, ferns, corn cobs, maize, fruit skins, sea shells, stone, sand, moss and hemp. Wool sounds like the softer option! On a cold wet windy day, we shifted our sheep off the Pevensey Levels. These ewes are due to lamb mid April and are in good order considering the wet winter. It’s a dangerous job because drivers on the A259 have not a moment to spare. While we’re backing our livestock trailer into a gateway, people take hair raising risks – not least us, because the only way to make people stop is to walk into the road. A couple of minutes is all we need; I’m amazed by people’s lack of patience. Now that the ewes are back on home ground, we’ll be able to supplement their grazing by giving them access to feed blocks and silage/hay. Even on this land they will be hard pressed to find a dry patch to lay on. I sympathise with anyone who’s lambing outside in these conditions; it must be grim, although it’s surprising how hardy lambs can be, especially if they have full bellies. They soon learn napping on their mum’s fleece is a cosy place to be. Although the sward length is less than optimal, the mild conditions have enabled the grass to continue growing. Happily, my hoggets have benefitted, with some finishing off grass and others requiring less feed than usual to finish. I needed to reduce grazing numbers, so I braved breaking with tradition and sold some hoggets as stores

> Sheep on the levels prior to moving


> The cow told her to clear out!

in market. I was delighted with the result. I’m going to miss DSC Supplies in Hailsham. Terry and his team have given good advice and valued assistance over the years. Good luck with your new ventures and happy retirement Terry. In market I was amused to witness the selling of ‘Mark Spitz’. It shows that everyone loves a good story. Initially there was little interest in the rather smart looking store wether, but intrigue was sparked when Robbie got into the pen and proclaimed: “This lamb is special”. Robbie explained: “He’s a triplet; his mother was running around with his head out. I had to rush about to catch her in order to deliver him. I left the family together, but when I returned to check on them the mother only had two lambs with her, so I looked around and found this one in the river swimming for his life. I rescued him and his mother refused to take him back. We reared him, naming him after the famous swimmer. He’s very friendly and I wish he was a ewe lamb as we’re all very fond of him”. Fierce bidding followed, and those present cheered and applauded the spectacle. Mark Spitz made a very respectable £104. Bravo. All farmers are eagerly anticipating better weather and are keen to get on the land to deal with the damage caused by the wet winter. Livestock farmers have struggled with where to store manure when cleaning out the sheds. Excess water has over filled slurry lagoons. The lack of winter corn sown has left fields vulnerable to soil erosion, with farmers powerless to prevent it. Consequently river beds are silting up, exacerbating flooding. There’s predicted to be a shortage of straw next winter and there’s already talk of tight supplies and high prices for livestock feed. Thank goodness the chancellor decided to keep the lower tax rate on red diesel used for agriculture, giving us one less worry. Is the government right to phase out badger culling in favour of vaccination and surveillance? We’re on yearly cattle testing. I’m alarmed to hear the planned

change to six-monthly testing for edge and high-risk areas. Managing these when cattle are confined in a shed is difficult enough, but testing when they are out on summer grazing will be a headache. Accelerating the development and deployment of a cattle vaccine which is yet to be recognised by the World Organisation for Animal Health has worrying > Fond farewell, to DSC Supplies trade implications. Vaccination prevents, but it does staff. Terry, Sarah & Russell > First spring born calf not cure disease. It is also not 100% protective. Dealing with TB is stressful and financially impacts rural businesses, so it would be good to get it sorted. It’s astounding to read that a top advisor to the chancellor has said: “The food sector isn’t critically important to the UK, and agriculture and fish production certainly isn’t”. I hope the public’s reaction to coronavirus raises the profile of food security. I suggest such advisors get a pay cut and > The chicken didn’t get the ing > Collecting the ewes up that the overloaded intensive care and frontline NHS memo about social distanc staff get a massive pay rise. They truly deserve it for the amazing job they are doing in very difficult circumstances. tend the land, there’s a bond formed, an affinity, over time creating memories. I empathise with the farming families and rural community opposing the You appreciate nature and take pride in nurturing the land, deriving pleasure extension of the Rother Valley Railway from Bodiam to Robertsbridge. We’re from doing so. It’s emotionally demoralising to have part of this snatched away supposed to be cutting emissions, so it doesn’t seem right to extend usage of by a compulsory purchase order, especially if afterwards you have to look at it steam and diesel trains for what appears to be a vanity project by wealthy train every day and bear the consequences. I hope the public enquiry scheduled to enthusiasts. take place in May rules in favour of preserving the land. There’s a well-documented rise in traffic accidents caused by level crossings, In the wake of coronavirus, keep calm and carry on farming. At least we won’t and three extra crossings are planned by this hobby railway, including one across get bored tending to our animals in isolation! the A21. Road users will be dismayed at the prospect of delays, adding to the chaos on this busy south coast to London route. Flooding will be increased by the embankment required to facilitate the line, affecting Bodiam and Robertsbridge. Ecological damage will be caused in an AONB area and mature woodland will be lost, affecting protected species. When you’ve grown up on a farm and seen your parents and grandparents > Feed blocks & silage on offer, but they prefer grass!

> Mark Spitz

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BEEN CUT OUT OF A WILL? The general rule is that people have the freedom to decide who they leave their assets to, so long as the correct procedures are followed and the Will is valid. However, if you have doubts as to the validity of the Will or you are a possible applicant under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 you may be able to challenge the amount of your inheritance, or lack of. Inheritance claims are complex and legal advice should be obtained early. Here are some of the most common types of claims our contentious probate team deal with:



A Will must meet certain requirements to be valid in accordance with Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837. If the Will fails to meet one or more of the requirements it will not be valid. These requirements are: • The Will must be in writing; • Signed by the testator or by someone who has authority to do so on behalf of the testator. • The testators must sign or acknowledge their signature in the presence of at least two witnesses. • Each witness must sign the will or acknowledge their signatures in the presence of the testator (but not necessarily in the presence of each other). The legal presumption is that a Will has been validly executed unless there is sufficient evidence to the contrary.


To make a valid Will the testator must have the requisite mental capacity. The requirements for this are found in the case of Banks v Goodfellow [1870] in which the Court held that for a Will to be valid the testator must: • Understand that they are making a Will and the effect of that Will; • Understand the nature and extent of the property of which they are disposing; • Understand the consequences of including and excluding certain people under their Will and appreciate the possible claims this could result in; and • Not be suffering from any ‘disorder of the mind’ that shall ‘poison his affections, pervert his sense of right, or prevent the exercise of his natural faculties – that no insane delusion shall influence his Will in disposing of his property and bring about a disposal of it which, if the mind had been sound, would not have been made’


To challenge the testators capacity it would be essential to obtain medical evidence to help determine whether the above grounds could be satisfied.


The testator must know and approve the contents of the Will. There will be a presumption of knowledge and approval if the testator had the requisite capacity and due execution took place but this presumption can be rebutted if suspicions are raised surrounding the preparation of the Will.


The testator must not be subjected to undue influence or coerced into making the Will. This factor is one of the hardest to prove as most undue influence or coercion would typically take place behind closed doors by people in a position of trust. Therefore, the evidence to prove this must be of a specifically high standard, to which there is no explanation for the terms of the Will.


Although this does not directly challenge the validity of the testator’s Will, a disinherited beneficiary may have a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975 for reasonable financial provision. With the exception of a spouse or civil partner, those entitled to claim would need to show that reasonable financial provision is necessary for their maintenance. A spouse or civil partner would be entitled to claim such financial provision that is reasonable in all the circumstances, whether or not required for their maintenance.


Solicitor, Whitehead Monckton T: 01622 698002 E: emmasalmon@whitehead-monckton.co.uk www.whitehead-monckton.co.uk

PUTTING DOWN THE GAVEL RICHARD WOOD Not so many weeks ago, Dominic Cummings announced that he would like a large number of weirdos and misfits to apply for jobs in government departments. By gum, he has really rung the bell! Dr Tim Leunig is a Professor at the London School of Economics who has been seconded to a government position. He is the chief scientific adviser and chief analyst at the Department of Education and economic adviser on housing at the Department for Communities and Local Government. He is also associate Professor of economic history at the London School of Economics. Now his latest proclamation adequately displays his total lack of common sense. He has declared that growing food in the UK is not economically necessary and that we should import all, or most, of our food in exactly the same way as in Singapore. Now Singapore is covered from top to bottom by concrete and development, with a population (as at 2017) of 5.614 million and a total area of 721.5 km2. The known population of the UK (as at 2018) is 66.3 million (and probably more), with a total area of 242,495 km2. Compared with Dr Leunig I am obviously of low intelligence, as it puzzles me why he has these two countries as a meaningful comparison. It may well be that lateral thinking is a useful tool in deciding policy, but this particular example portrays vividly the plethora of useless individuals employed by our civil service. I fervently believe his surname has one too many ‘Gs’ in it. What really worries me is that he has been guiding our next generation of youth in further education and ultimately employment, yet somebody is actually paying his salary! If there is any more money available for daft ideas, please give me a ring. PS He is only 49 and having spent all his life in academia small wonder he does not know how many beans make four. I have decided to flex my muscles and proclaim that my philosophical belief systems are worthy of protection. I have decided not to pay tax any more as fleecing the old and unemployed is grossly unfair. I have decided only to have a shower once every two months as this keeps the mice away in the winter and the wasps away in the summer. I have decided not to watch Piers Morgan any more because he is a self-opinionated egotistical bore, whereas I do not have any opinions of any worth. How is it that vegans have been allowed to disrupt other people’s enjoyment of meat and meat products without any interference from the laws of the land and with apparent impunity, even though meat has been the most important part of our diet for thousands of years? I do not preach to them and I begrudge these people being able to preach to me by means of protest. The latest wheeze is for nudist groups seeking to turn their choice of lifestyle into a philosophical belief system worthy of statutory

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protection. It’s fine to display yourself in a protected and private environment, but don’t believe that the rest of us want to witness you revealing your assets on the high street. I can’t quite understand the furore surrounding the possible importation of American chickens washed in chlorine. It is not a health hazard and I don’t hear of droves of Americans dying through its consumption. We have to face the fact that all or most of our prepared salad leaves are washed in chlorine to prevent organisms expressing themselves, and washed potatoes in plastic bags are treated exactly the same way to prevent them from sprouting. I suggest growers and suppliers of all these products play on the provenance of their wares and let the consumers decide British is best. Incidentally, all public swimming pools and our

domestic water supply is treated with chlorine. Prices for sheep meat are the highest they have been for five years and beef looks like it could follow suit. One cloud on the horizon, however, is the distinct possibility that coronavirus will necessitate the closing of the livestock markets. We don’t have to go back many years to witness the carnage imposed on the livestock trade when markets were closed for 55 weeks. The major players in the slaughter industry and the supermarkets had a field day. I do not trust any of them to play ball and provide a realistic return if my worst fears are realised. Keep supporting your local live auction – you will miss it 100% when it is gone. PS Even though I have recently had a knee operation, I have promised to get the ride-on charged up. Management is over the moon!




BACK INTO AGRICULTURE This month Nigel Akehurst visits Plaw Hatch Farm, a community owned biodynamic farm and shop on the edge of the Ashdown Forest in Sharpthorne, West Sussex.


> Nir


Plaw Hatch is a 200-acre community owned biodynamic farm and shop on the edge of the Ashdown Forest in Sharpthorne. In total the business farms close to 500 acres within a 12-mile radius of the main farm. The land and buildings (which include commercial, agricultural and residential) are owned by a charitable trust and the farm business – Old Plaw Hatch Farm Ltd – is owned by a co-operative of 700 mainly local members with six directors, of which five are farm enterprise managers. The idea behind this setup is to separate the ownership of the land from the commercial activities, so it will always be organically and biodynamically managed and no one can buy it or turn it into anything other than a farm. The overall aim is to produce as wide a range of food as possible and sell it to the local community via the farm shop, where 95% of the food produced on the farm is sold – everything from raw milk, yoghurt and cheese to eggs, fresh meat from pigs, sheep, cattle (all reared and butchered on the farm) and a wide selection of fruit and veg too. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the farm business, and there’s plenty to celebrate. Plaw Hatch is a thriving community with over 6,000 visitors to the farm shop every month – it is also home to a team of inspiring young farmers, market gardeners and interns who come to learn from them. The business employs around 30 people in total, which includes several part-time shop staff and eight of the 20 people who live on site. The rest of those living on site are family members of the farmers or gardeners. “If you are a farmer or a gardener you get housing included as well as a discount for the farm shop,” explained first generation farmer Gala Bailey-Barker. Gala originally volunteered at Plaw Hatch in 2012, when the farm was considering having an apprentice. Two years later she became employed as a farmer and heads up the sheep enterprise, having recently returned to work after being on maternity leave.


Biodynamic farming is often likened to organic farming, but also includes various esoteric concepts drawn from the ideas of Austrian philosopher


Rudolph Steiner. He encouraged farmers to look at the cosmos before planting and harvesting crops. The biodynamic calendar is based on the positioning of the stars and the moon. While many farmers follow these principles, it isn’t a prerequisite for Demeter, the biodynamic certification body, though they require Steiner’s nine so-called “preparations” made from herbs, mineral substances and animal manures that are turned into field sprays and composts. Whether you believe in the more mystical elements of biodynamic farming or not, the demand for certified products is on the rise in line with organic products, growing 5% last year.


The farm is centred on the small-scale dairy headed up by herdsman Robin Hall. It milks a closed herd of 30 Muesse-Rhine-Issel, Montbeliard and Viking Red dairy cows twice daily in their abreast parlour with stalls and four clusters producing 150,000 litres per annum with 80% of the raw milk sold direct in glass bottles through the shop. This helps attract regular customers, who then buy their other products. All the surplus milk is processed into cheese, cream, yoghurt and kefir by Tali Eichner, resulting in zero waste. One slight cause for concern has been a fall in revenue from the milk in the shop. Business manager Rebecca Heys has noticed a 10% decline, due mainly to an increase in competition from other raw milk producers locally and a rise in veganism, though fresh meat sales have not been affected.


Right next to the dairy is the farm shop, which sells 95% of what the farm produces and accounts for the lion’s share of the farm’s £1.8 million turnover. Interestingly, around 40% of what is sold through the shop is produced on the farm and the prices reflect the true cost of food production, allowing for re-investment towards the sustainability of the farm. I asked Gala how their prices compared to supermarkets “it’s a bit more expensive than Sainsbury’s but no more than Waitrose,” she said. >>


• Plaw Hatch is a 200-acre biodynamic farm. The land and buildings (including commercial, agricultural and residential) are owned by St Anthony’s Trust and the limited business is owned by a co-operative of 700 mainly local members which also owns nearby sister farm Tablehurst in Forest Row. • Another 300 acres are rented within a 12-mile radius of the main farm, where most of the 40 tons of feed cereals are grown, 500 bales of straw and 400 bales of silage are made. • A farm shop selling 95% of what is produced on the farm is visited by 6,000 people every month. • A closed dairy herd of 30 MuesseRhine-Issel, Montbeliard and Viking Red dairy cows and 15 dry cows produces 150,000 litres per annum, all sold via the farm shop either as raw milk or as cream, cheese, yoghurt or kefir. • A 12-acre market garden on site produces veg, soft fruit and flowers. • There are 80 breeding ewes, a mix of Romney and Lleyns. All 135 lambs are butchered on site and sold direct through the farm shop. Around 60 sheepskins are processed, via an organic sheepskin company, each year and also sold through the farm shop. Knitting wool is sold and four dye workshops are held per year. • The farm has three sows and one Duroc boar. • There are 400 laying hybrid hens moving from static to mobile houses. • The dairy processes milk from cows into cheese, yoghurt and kefir. • The butchery works two days a week supplying meat to the farm shop.

> Gala


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• An on-farm camp site offers pitches at £12 per adult per night and £6 per child per night. WWW.SOUTHEASTFARMER.NET | APRIL 2020


OUT AND ABOUT WITH NIGEL AKEHURST with the new hedge row carried out with the help of the Lund Fund

> Track

<< MARKET GARDEN Another big draw to the shop is the wide range of delicious salads, vegetables and soft fruit produced on site by Nir Halfon and Liz Charnell. They grow 45 different types of vegetables, fruits and herbs from seed with the help of an apprentice grower and two or three volunteers from Warmanderhof, a biodynamic college in the Netherlands, and 95% of the produce is sold through the farm shop. There is more than 12 acres of rotational land for field crop staples such as onions, potatoes, root crops, squash, leeks and kale, to name a few, with a focus on seasonal and heritage varieties. In the summer, tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, beans

and salad crops can be seen growing in the 11 polytunnels, together with a small flower garden to support the diverse insect species found on the farm, including many bees and butterflies.


The sheep are relative newcomers to the farm, and Gala has grown the flock from 35 breeding ewes to 80 over the past few years. She has 40 Lleyn and 40 Romney ewes with a Jacob ram for colour. Going forward, the flock will be closed, and Gala starts lambing outdoors from the 1st of April. She moves her sheep regularly, focusing on clean grazing and doing faecal egg counts monthly from



April to November. Gala sends 135 sheep to the farm butchery a year â&#x20AC;&#x201C; approximately five lambs/hoggets every other week plus the occasional mutton. Adding value to the Plaw Hatch flock, Gala sends around 60 fleeces a year to the Organic Wool Company to be produced into organic sheepskins, as well as making knitting wool, blankets and running plant dying workshops. One worry for Gala has been an increase in dog attacks, following two such attacks in the past two years. The first attack at the beginning of 2019 resulted in the death of 15 pregnant ewes and serious injury to another 16 when a group of dogs got into their field.


> Gala,


The farm has 400 hybrid laying hens and has this year invested in two modern mobile houses McGregor Polytunnels, having previously housed them in static houses. The hens are managed by Gala and Rose Bramwell, with all the eggs being sold through the farm shop.


There is a mixture of heritage breeds at Plaw Hatch, which is home to Tamworths, Durocs and Large Blacks, with three sows and a Duroc boar. They are fed a mixed diet of whey, a by-product from the cheese-making process which is a great source of protein, together with home-grown oats and the odd treat from the garden. All the pigs are butchered on site and sold through the shop.

Rose and Mia

In addition to the website, Plaw Hatch Farm sends out regular newsletters to its highly engaged community of local shoppers and supporters containing updates on what’s happening on the farm, upcoming events and future projects. Gala has her own Instagram account @farmergala, documenting life on the farm with her flock of sheep and sheepdog Pip. She shares a lot of the day-to-day farm updates to her followers, which number nearly 3,000.


With one in five farms reliant on the Basic Payment Scheme to stay solvent, I asked whether

Plaw Hatch Farm would survive without subsidies. Business manager Rebecca admitted the enterprise would miss the money, as it is used to fund infrastructure improvements and help buy new equipment, but she said they would step up efforts to apply for other grants from sources such as the Lund Fund, - which recently helped with a £10,000 grant to fund the planting of a new hedgerow. Plaw Hatch Farm has also just agreed a new fiveyear, mid-tier countryside stewardship programme.


Plaw Hatch has bucked conventional farming wisdom – increasing economies of scale, more mechanisation and less labour – and sells 95% of everything it produces through the on-site farm shop. Not being at the mercy of the supermarkets and commodity price fluctuations has enabled the team to continue farming in a more traditional way. “We’re the closest thing to how farms are depicted in children’s books,” said Robin Hall, who looks after the dairy cows. He also stressed the role that people have in making the farm work, reminding us that there is, after all, culture in agriculture.



The majority of the arable land under cultivation is in Chailey, where the enterprise grows around 40 tons of oats and barley for animal feed, carrying out all the cultivation, sowing and combining in house.


With such a diverse range of enterprises on the farm, the key to success is good communication. The farm team meets daily each morning to discuss chores as well as sitting down every two weeks to discuss their individual enterprises in more detail. The business operates a flat hierarchical structure, with each enterprise manager responsible for his or her individual budget. In addition, the team uses an online instant messaging group as a useful online tool to communicate on farm tasks.

PLAW HATCH WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA The website at www.plawhatchfarm.co.uk provides information about the different farm enterprises, shop opening times and upcoming events and workshops. It also explains more about what biodynamic farming means and about the co-operative’s business values - highlighting the team’s sustainable approach to caring for the land, their animals and the people that contribute to the farm’s day-to-day activities.

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T: 01264 321 595 www.openfield.co.uk



It’s 25 March today, and the UK is more or less in lockdown. As the challenges of the epidemic have grown, Openfield has increased our contingency planning to ensure that our members, our customers and our colleagues’ health and well-being are being protected. All drivers and hauliers will always call ahead to let farmers know when a collection is due. Our driver will be happy to make any adjustments to the way collections or deliveries are made and our contacts just need to let our drivers know when they call. All drivers are briefed about increasing their personal hygiene and all relevant Government guidelines are being followed as we wish to maintain everyone’s safety. Drivers have been asked to maintain a safe distance to anyone on farm and at the consumption points at this difficult time. Our Farm Business Managers remain available by phone and email and will continue to stay in touch in that way. We have seen extreme market volatility in recent days with wheat futures increasing by up to £7 per tonne, before subsiding. The reality is that in some areas demand is outstripping supply. This is particularly true for bread, so flour and of course milling wheat. Actually its not so much the availability of wheat, it’s the lack of logistics and production capacity. Both of which are required to get flour and bread to the supermarket in order to keep pace with the stripping of shelves! Its much worse in America where there is even more panic buying and hoarding of pasta and bread than we have in the UK! A false rumour that Russia was banning wheat exports made the markets worse for a day. In the end


ARE VOID! we have enough surplus wheat in the UK to see us through to harvest and more than enough feed and malting barley! I was hopeful – that the sudden increase in wheat values – both old and new – would help to lift barley – but it hasn’t! Whereas wheat would be considered a key ingredient for flour, barley is not. The beer, malt, and therefore malting barley demand has gone the other way to wheat! Breweries large and micro are not able to shift their stocks of beer onto restaurants, pubs and most importantly big sporting events. Beer of course has a shelf life, malt can be kept for six months or more. So as brewers won’t take the malt, so maltsters cannot take the malting barley; so without our export homes we would not be able to clear the barley from farms. Most of the serious old crop grain marketing was done before the price rises of the last few days. For those with some wheat left, there is the chance to cash in at some £10 per tonne better ELVED than could ever have been PHILLIPS envisaged. Likewise on new Openfield crop wheat with November wheat 2020 futures around


£170, that should mean a good improvement on anything you have sold forward so far. Weak sterling has played a big part in this, touching 95p exchange rate to the euro last week. Its back to 92p now. I said before, that given the UK will need to import 3/4 million tonnes of wheat, it’s the value of that at the port, which will decide your ex farm price, not how much has been planted. The good news is that, weak sterling has made that wheat more expensive. Stronger sterling would make it cheaper again and one day it will. So for now all bets and predictions thus far are void! If you like the price of wheat, old or new sell some! The same applies to barley but the price is not so attractive. The difference with barley is that we will still have to export up to 1.5 million tonnes of new crop. Most of this will be spring malting. I am more optimistic about the economy recovering when this is over: financially the banks were in a much worse state back in the 2008/2009 recession. At least the government has the money to back up its generous support to all. So I am planting early potatoes at my allotment and the healthiest place for you is on the tractor drilling! So lets invoke the Wartime spirit and all ‘Dig for Victory’.

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FALLOW SOILS Cover crop mixes including options designed to improve the structure of land left fallow this spring are on offer from crop production specialists Hutchinsons. “This year specifically, a lot of fields are in a mess after late-harvested crops like maize, potatoes and carrots, while others remain waterlogged,” says Ed Brown Hutchinsons bioagri ecologist. “We’re past the situation where winter wheat is viable, while spring barley prospects don’t look great given the saturated market and likely difficulties of creating a seedbed in time.” Leaving fallow land bare and trying to rectify structural issues with cultivations alone is likely to exacerbate poor soil structure so cover crops will have a vital role, he says. Spring cover crops are ideal as they can be sown from mid-April giving time for conditions on waterlogged land to improve. “You need roots in the soil to feed biology, restructure soils, build organic matter, and act as a water pump to manage moisture through the profile. The benefits of cover crops are well-proven.” Mr Brown has worked with Hutchinsons colleagues to develop five cover crop mixes, including two short-term spring/summer catch crop mixes and three options for overwinter cover. The mixes are based on a diverse variety of species as experience has shown these more effective than those featuring just one or two. Diversity delivers wider benefits to soil structure improvement, nutrient capture, and organic matter additions, says Mr Brown.


RYEGRASS OFFERS BARE SOILS SOLUTION Sowing a ryegrass catch crop this spring could offer a cost-effective solution for farmers with bare ground following aborted autumn drilling, says specialist seed company Field Options. Francis Dunne, Field Options director says a short term grass catch crop could be a better option than spring cereals for farmers still considering what to do with undrilled acres. “For those with the opportunity to either feed or sell a high value forage crop then a short term ryegrass catch crop should be a consideration,” he says. A trials programme at Harper Adams University (HAU) has shown specialist catch crop mixtures have the potential to produce more than 10tDM/ha following spring sowing. Following early April sowing Hurricane 111, a mixture based on persistent and hardy Westerwold ryegrass and Italian ryegrass, has recorded up to 14tDM/ha in a full season with an average ME of

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11.5MJ/kg DM across five cuts. “A first cut would be taken a full month ahead of when a wholecrop cereal would be harvested, and there is added flexibility, as the mixture is designed to last for up to 18 months, so can perform throughout a second season,” says Mr Dunne. “Though the species in the mixture are more suited to cutting, it can also be grazed successfully if the appropriate controlled grazing techniques are employed.” Including various legumes species to complement vigorous grasses adds value for anyone seeking a fertility building solution, additional yield or drought tolerance. “At a cost of around £25/ha to add the clovers, following the catch crop with wheat is a sound investment for the significant benefits of improved soil structure and fertility. “Higher protein content in the sward will also increase the value of aftermath grazing.”

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The area of maize sown this spring is predicted to rise to combat the shortfall in winter cereals drilling. However, in the wake of last year’s difficult conditions, Hutchinsons agronomist James Bowell, talks us though the learnings there are to be had from last year and what advice he would give to get the best start to the maize crop this season. The roots of a maize plant can venture as deep down into the soil as the crop grows in height to find water and nutrients – but that’s only if the soil structure allows it. 55% of your yield is down to soil structure and drilling, so if you get that wrong you’ve effectively messed up your crop. Maize is a very weak rooter and if it hits compacted soil, it will just give up. Last season’s very wet harvesting conditions will have left many soils compacted, so make sure that the plough pan is broken up– although beware that it’s not necessary to go much deeper than an inch below the plough pan in most situations. You really want the crop to get up and away as if the seed sits in the soil it will sit in the ‘rook danger zone’ – particularly an issue this year with the loss of Mesurol seed treatment which also acted as a bird repellent. Korit is widely available as a bird repellent, but some seed this year will be sown without repellent and this could cause problems with bird strike. Beware of drilling too deeply to avoid bird strike

as soil temperatures at depth will be cooler slowing down germination – which will actually leave the seed in the bird strike zone for longer if it doesn’t get up and away. Critical to good establishment are seed bed conditions and soil temperatures explains James. It’s really important not to drill too early – soil temperatures need to be 10°C and rising – or crops can be damaged by late frosts. Maize is a sensitive crop, so a fire brigade approach to weed control doesn’t really work as higher rates of herbicides will generally impact on the crop, therefore timings of both the pre-emergence and post-emergence herbicides are important. In the South East Charlock can be difficult to control, so its important to get on top of it early, with a pendimethalin-based herbicide. A fine seed bed will help with better weed control, James points out. Just remember that there is currently no recommendation for glyphosate to be included in the tank mix with the pre-emergence herbicide. For the post emergence herbicide, it’s important to check the weed pressure and respond accordingly; all weeds should be removed at the earliest opportunity, ideally before they reach 10cm high and before the crop is at the 4 leaf stage. Prioritise fields with the highest weed population densities, difficult to control weeds and any slow growing crops first.


Hutchinsons T: 07721 888382 E: james.boswell@hlhltd.co.uk Canterbury: 01227 830064 www.hlhltd.co.uk


TOP TIPS FOR THE BEST MAIZE ESTABLISHMENT • Aim for a fine seedbed with no

compaction. Plough pans should be broken up. • Don’t be tempted to drill too early! Make sure soil temperatures are up around 10°C. • Aim to place the seed just below 5cm – as this is longer than a rooks beak – so is more difficult for the birds to get to. • A starter fertiliser and micronutrients in the seedbed are impor tant to getting the crop up and away. Think about potash in the seed bed, not just nitrogenalthough it is likely nitrogen will be needed later in the season as well. • Crops should be treated with a pre-emergence and post emergence spray. Where there is a high population of rye or black-grass, James recommends a standard rate application of something like MaisTer. As far as nutrition goes, a smaller amount of nitrogen on the seedbed is advisable– about 25-30kg of DAP down the spout next to the seed.


As someone who runs both a farm and a pub, I have first-hand experience of the hugely different levels of impact that government measures to suppress the spread of Covid-19 are having on my two very different businesses. So far, the farm has sailed on more or less unaffected. Grain, lamb and beef prices have held up and I can look forward to a full BPS payment next December. Provided neither my farm foreman nor I go down with the virus simultaneously we should be able to get the spring arable work, lambing and calving of the beef herd all done in a timely fashion. The pub, on the other hand, faces an immediate and potentially ruinous scenario. Since the government told us to close our premises we have ‘furloughed’ our five full-time employees, who are now not working. While we continue to pay them, the Government is organising itself to pay 80% of their salaries and has also promised some capital grants to see the pub through short-term cash flow difficulties. But with the pub now shut for an as-yet unknown length of time, we have no idea whether or not these helpful payments will be sufficient. Many of the pub’s other overheads, like rent and

I WILL NEED CAREFUL NURTURING THIS SPRING insurance and utility services, continue whether the pub is open for business or not. The timing of the pub’s closure could not be more cruel. In its remote rural location, the winter months are always lean. We therefore rely on the long warm spring and summer days to fill our bar, dining tables and pub garden with customers so that we can lay on enough fat to see us through the colder, darker half of the year. No doubt Covid-19 will create serious problems in agriculture and horticulture. Not least will be a shortage of migrant EU workers to carry out the soft fruit and summer vegetable harvest. But even here there are already encouraging signs that the tens of thousands (and perhaps millions) of British workers suddenly laid off in other sectors of the economy will be willing to take on this seasonal work. There could be many other difficulties ahead for farms, particularly from disruption associated with the collapse of demand from the catering sector.

This will inevitably spill down to us as producers, but whether people eat in restaurants or at home they still have to eat. Whatever problems we farmers face, there are many other business sectors much worse off than we are. The government is trying to minimise the immediate impact of Covid-19 with special financial help to many different sections of the economy. From where I sit, agriculture and horticulture do not need to be at the top of its list.

STEPHEN CARR Arable farmer



SOIL BIOLOGY Smart Rotations mycorrhizal fungi and liquid beneficial bacteria show positive results over three years of testing in UK soils on cereals and vegetables. PlantWorks, the UK only mass producer of mycorrhizal fungi and plant growth promoting rhizobacteria have published its latest set of trial results from using ‘bio fertilisers’ manufactured at its laboratories at the Kent Science Park. Healthy soils are defined by many characteristics, but key amongst these is the biological activity of the soil. The role that beneficial fungi and bacteria play in the process of breaking chemical bounds in the soil to make nutrient available to plants is simply critical to all life. Mycorrhizal fungi in soils function to increase the root zone explored by each plant by up to 700 fold while dramatically increasing the phosphorus availability to plants. The role of the bacteria that thrive within this fungal network include the production of hormones that stimulate both root

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and shoot development, fix nitrogen from the air and, in some cases, act to protect crops. Harnessing the potential of this biology, through good farming practice and by intervention with suitable bio fertilisers, is considered to be the next frontier of farming with many millions being invested in these products, driving a market that is globally worth over $3 billion a year.

PlantWorks is the UK’s resource for bio fertilisers supplied under the Smart Rotations brand. The products come in granular form for the mycorrhizal fungi, applied at planting, and liquid form for the beneficial bacteria sprayed to soil. To the bottom line: Results reported from UK farm trials averaged over two years include: Sugar Beet yield uplift 5.7%, Winter wheat 6.3%, Spring wheat 7.1%, Potatoes 9%, Oats 7.5, Onion 6%.

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We need government to listen to horticulture when it comes to the supply of labour in the post-Brexit era – and here’s why. Not that we are any different from care, construction, hospitality and every other service/ blue collar sector that has struggled to recruit home grown labour in recent years, but as an industry we face particular challenges. As for the eight million economically inactive people who have been put forward as a suitable resource of labour to draw upon, that figure is made up of those who are sick, caring for young or elderly relatives, retired or students who really aren’t going to be available to come and work 40 hours a week picking fruit, even if they wanted to. That figure is one that has been calculated by the Office of National Statistics, which claims we have 8.48 million people aged between 16 and 64 who, technically speaking, could be working. The problem is that 27% of this number are students, those who are benefitting from the government’s drive to encourage young people to stay in education until the age of 18 and then progress into higher education. A further 26% are sick, sadly mostly long-term sick, and so these two groups between them contain more than four million people who couldn’t possibly come and pick our crops. Moving on, 22% are at home, mostly caring for family members, 13% are retired and just under 1% say they are ‘discouraged workers’, leaving 11% in the gap year/waiting for a job to start/taking a sabbatical group, which also includes those who say they do not want a job. Meanwhile we are told that the 8.48 million figure is made up of 6.61 million who do not want a job and 1.87 million who would like one… We are all aware of the enormous number of workers who have lost their jobs in the hospitality sector, with retail workers following suit after shops were ordered to close in the fight against coronavirus. There are many who will fall outside the government’s commitment to provide 80% of wages to those who are laid off, so now is surely the time for a national recruitment campaign to find enough labour to harvest the fruit and vegetable crops we are committed to growing this season. Labour providers and industry leaders are working together, there are discussions about chartering special flights to bring people to the UK and how to bring EU nationals already resident in the UK engaged with the farming sector. What is clear is that all farming businesses will have people in their local communities who can be encouraged to come to work. The money is good in our sector. It’s an absolute misnomer to suggest it’s badly paid; we just need to get that message out there. There are already reports that the HOPS labour agency received more than 6,000 applications in two-and-a-half days, Angus Growers are leading

DEEPLY CONCERNED the way in Scotland and British Summer Fruits and British Apples and Pears are working together to deliver recruitment films, a dedicated website with an application portal and a comprehensive recruitment campaign behind it. #Feedthenation will clearly be crucial to the season this year, with horticulture alone needing 70,000 people. We are all deeply concerned that the recent immigration policy statement from the Home Office gave no reassurance that the Seasonal Worker pilot scheme would be scaled up further for 2021 when freedom of movement ends. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all delighted that the election promise of 10,000 permits this year has been honoured, but what happens next? Timescales are another issue; the industry will recruit for 2021 from September this year, and so scaling up of permit-approved agencies will require approval immediately. Meanwhile plants for 2021 are already on order or are being confirmed now; we mustn’t spend the money if we can’t pick the crop. We need to make it clear that in the long term this is not about immigration. The fruit industry boasts a 98%+ return rate because workers come here, work and go home again. The initial results of the 2019 pilot sound extremely encouraging, and we know that the old SAWS scheme achieved the same return rate. Horticulture has a proven track record on returnees. All European countries, along with America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, have visa schemes that enable seasonal workers to visit to pick fruit and veg. The number of Agricultural Guest Workers (H-2A visas) in the USA increased from 140,000 in 2016 to 250,000 in 2019. Turning to the issues around modern slavery, with a very few heinous exceptions British growers are proud to use GLAA-licensed labour providers or indeed to be GLAA licensed themselves in order


to recruit directly. All growers supplying British retailers have to pass Ethical Trading Initiative audits that demand minimum pay at the national living wage rate regardless of age and that require stringent checks on labour providers, worker welfare and worker accommodation. Organised crime, however, will take advantage of labour shortages, as we saw last year with the Operation Fort trial. The sector is deeply concerned that workers and horticultural businesses will be exploited by criminals if adequate visas for seasonal workers are not provided. While technology may help in time, we have to be realistic and acknowledge that the technology to pick our crops is a long way away from market ready; in my view it will be ready to play a part in seven years’ time if we’re lucky. And let’s consider climate change. Why on earth would anyone think that importing fruit is better than supporting homegrown produce? With the country boasting only 52% self-sufficiency these days, the DEFRA official’s statement on how we don’t need farming anymore, made just four weeks ago, already seems from a different age. We can expect to see a rapid change in the Agriculture Bill and the national food strategy will undoubtedly look different from the earlier vision for the nation. Watch out for regular updates from British Apples and Pears and the NFU, with enormous numbers seeking work the national recruitment campaign will be targeted regionally, it will help find our labour for this season, people who neighbour your farm will be looking for work too.

SARAH CALCUTT Chair, National Fruit Show



APPOINTS NEW PRESIDENT the Fruit Show team. She is widely regarded as an expert in the grocery and food supply chain sector as well as having one foot still firmly in her wellies. From her work advising the CSR board of Sainsbury’s, her position as a director of Safeway stores to her current position as the ‘go-to’ commentator on the grocery sector and six years as a Non-Executive Director of Covent Garden Market Authority, she brings unique experience in food, farming and retail that will be invaluable in helping us steer the National Fruit Show through its next decade of growth.” Members will first have an opportunity to meet with their new President at the rescheduled AGM which will now take place in the summer. 2020 will be the National Fruit Show’s 87th event and will be held at the Kent Event Centre at Detling, Kent on 22 and 23 October.



For further information on the National Fruit Show please contact press officer 01732 874564 or info@nationalfruitshow.org.uk


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The Marden Fruit Show Society, the organising charity which stages the National Fruit Show, is delighted to announce the appointment of one of the leading figures in the British food and farming industry, Teresa Wickham, to be its new and 5th President. Her appointment is effective from Spring 2020 and is for a three year term, “I am honoured to take on the position of President of the National Fruit Show. I have long admired the amazing work done by the show committee and the Shop Window for UK Apples and Pears it provides. Robin and I were lucky to win some prizes for our fruit in the 1980’s so I am well aware of all the hard work from growers that goes into producing such amazing displays of Fruit” stated the new president. Sarah Calcutt, Chair of the National Fruit Show said: “We are truly delighted that Teresa is joining

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– Your A GROWERS TAKEOLIVERS PART IN SURVEY Machinery Specia More than 600 horticulture businesses are expected to take part in a survey to find solutions to skilled labour shortages. Labour shortages have been identified as the most critical issue facing many producers and the NFU suggests a third of growers are finding it difficult to secure adequate EU labour. Funded by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, and supported by the NFU, the survey aims to help the industry to boost funding, provide support for labour challenges and ensure training providers are better informed of industry needs The survey includes field vegetable, protected edible, soft fruit, tree fruit and mushroom sectors, as well as packhouse operations. Nathalie Key, AHDB knowledge exchange manager said: “With the


Irrigated farming faces “unprecedented threats” and a strategy is needed to ensure that it receives a fair share of the nation’s water resources, warns a report from the UK Irrigation Association and Cranfield University. It warns that domestic production of high quality fruit and vegetables is at risk from increasing competition for limited water resources and climate variability. Challenges are particularly acute in South East “hotspots”. “When water shortages threaten home grown production, wholesalers, supermarkets, and food service sectors may switch to sourcing from other countries which exacerbates the risks faced by home producers,” says the report. The UK already imports more than 50% of its food, including potatoes from Morocco, citrus from South Africa and strawberries from Spain. By importing irrigated produce the UK is “exploiting water resources overseas – in effect environmental problems are exported to other countries that may be less able to manage their water resources and climate risks. “Some imports are inevitable because consumers expect to buy out of season fresh fruit and vegetables, but can we afford to continue relying so much on imported food?” the report asks. “Producing fresh fruit and vegetables in the UK requires much less water (water productivity) than growing similar crops in countries we rely on for import.”

uncertainties that remain post-Brexit, questions around building and maintaining a sufficient labour force are still at the forefront of the horticultural industry’s minds. “This sector operates in a highly competitive retailer environment, where efficiency in all aspects of business, including labour, is key. It’s therefore imperative that the industry has access to a skilled workforce for its future viability and growth.” Emily Roads, NFU horticulture adviser, said: “We know that the edible horticultural sector relies on an incredible array of skills to support the production of safe and traceable British fresh produce. “This survey will help the industry focus on what’s required and build a picture for policy makers and stakeholders to help underpin any future skills strategy.”


UNDER THREAT Irrigated farming in the UK faces unprecedented threats from water scarcity, driven by competition from other water users, over abstraction and over licensing in some catchments as well as changing water regulations, climate change and drought. Strawberry growers have warned that if their water supply is cut for any reason, protected crops will perish in under 24 hours. Farmers also maintain that section 57 – the Environment Agency’s power to stop abstraction for irrigation during droughts – mean the industry is “the nation’s safety valve”. National food security is “highly dependent on having sufficient water to produce our food needs”, says the report which sets out a vision for action and identifies strategic themes for future work. The NFU has contributed to the strategy, and welcomes the launch which comes at a crucial time for the irrigated crop sector. NFU water specialist Paul Hammett said: “The strategy will make an important contribution in ongoing discussions with government and its regulators, public water companies and other

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sectors as we seek domestic agricultural policies that promote domestic food security. “Growers of fresh fruit and vegetables need a fair share of the nation’s water resources. But they face greater risks about their future access to water from a combination of increased demand and competition from other users, and more extreme weather events.” The strategy explores three main themes focusing on ‘irrigation hotspots’ in England, addressing environmental and regulatory challenges, and encouraging abstractors to work together to build resilience to water risks. Meanwhile, DEFRA is expected to publish its national water planning framework after the March 2020 Budget tasked with introducing the principles of long-term and multi-sector water planning. The NFU hopes that the UK irrigation water strategy will help to shape our sectoral needs in the future development of new water supplies and transfers, and in reviewing the use of water company, agricultural and environmental drought measures.

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Contact us for a demonstration today. Contact us for a demonstration today. OLIVERS Petworth OLIVERS Reading OLIVERS Winchester OLIVERS Luton

OLIVERS Tingewick OLIVERS Petworth OLIVERS Reading OLIVERS Winchester www.oliveragriculture.co.uk Tel: 01798 343660 Tel: 01189 723741 Tel: 01962 774590 Tel: 01582 727111 Tel: 01280 848494 Tel: 01798 Petworth 343660 Tel: 01189 Reading 723741 Tel: 01962 Winchester 774590  /Oliveragri  @Oliveragri @Oliversagri OLIVERS OLIVERS OLIVERS www.oliveragriculture.co.uk Tel: 01798 343660 Tel: 01189 723741 Tel: 01962 774590  /Oliveragri  @Oliveragri  @Oliversagri www.oliveragriculture.co.uk  /Oliveragri  @Oliveragri  @Oliversagri

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Diversification is by no means a new concept for farmers, who have been converting barns to business units, installing solar PV systems and creating farm trails and petting zoos for decades. The idea has perhaps been less well developed among machinery dealers, but as the new Olivers depot at Petworth proves, broadening the range of products on offer can provide a two-fold boost to sales, attracting a swathe of new customers while giving existing clients a wider choice. Formerly Claas Southern, the Pulborough Road dealership has always enjoyed a good reputation among those looking for high end combine harvesters and foragers, while also offering the impressive Abbey Machinery tanker range and Horsch tillage equipment. While that combination gave it a strong but limited line up of products, the business recognised that in order to grow it needed to increase its customer base further. Now, under the ownership of Oliver Agriculture Ltd, which bought out the Claas Southern dealerships in both Winchester and Petworth in October 2018, the thriving business has much more to offer farmers in the south. “We now supply machinery and parts for a further 12 new franchises, all of them tried and trusted names that our customers can rely on,” explained sales director Russell Hallam. The vastly expanded range means existing Claas, Abbey and Horsch customers can now use Olivers for their other farming needs, from Spearhead hedge cutters and flex-wing mowers to Bunning manure spreaders and Martin Lishman grain store equipment.

“In the past, unless a farmer was looking to buy or service a Claas combine or forager, it was unlikely that he would give the old business a second glance,” said Russell. “Now, though, we have built a whole new customer base by offering a larger range of premium franchises. Meanwhile our original Claas customers are enjoying the fact that their dealer of choice also offers many more products.” The result has been a steady increase in business and has been good news for the local economy, with an extra three jobs created at Petworth over the last financial year. The new products on offer include those from Bunning, KRM, Opico and Maschio as well as, Cherry Products, Grange Machinery, Samson, Spread-aBale, Tanco, and Richard Western, all chosen for their quality, reliability and effectiveness and all fully supported by the Olivers parts and servicing departments. Olivers was established in Bedfordshire in 1823 by steam ploughing and threshing contractor James Oliver. His grandson, Archibald Thomas, gave his initials to the business, which became A T Oliver & Sons. The business became the first UK-appointed Claas dealership in 1947. Still a family-run business employing 136 people, it has two divisions, Oliver Agriculture and sister company Oliver Landpower, which has branches at Kings Langley, Luton and Tingewick. Oliver Landpower supplies JCB and Amazone machinery and has a groundcare division supplying professional turf care machinery from Toro, Kawasaki utility task vehicles (UTVs) and Isuzu pickup trucks. The Petworth site had been an independent


machinery depot for many years before becoming part of Southern Harvesters. Russell joined Southern Harvesters in 2002, and after a period as regional sales manager for Claas UK, he returned to the retail side of the business in 2013. He became director of Claas Southern in 2015, and when Olivers acquired the business and all its staff, Russell was appointed as Sales Director for the company’s southern area in October 2018. The Petworth sales team is headed up by Gavin Elliott and Aaron Dadswell and supported by two full time sales demonstrators. With Olivers keen to support local apprenticeships, the company has recently taken on parts apprentice Elliott Matthews, who has joined the two existing apprentices in the service team. Sadly, government advice around the coronavirus outbreak saw the postponement of an open day and grain clinic planned for the Petworth branch last month. It meant farmers were unable to take advantage of a moisture meter recalibration service due to be offered by Martin Lishman, one of the new suppliers that have boosted the range of services on offer. Olivers will, however, be offering a drop-off service and will work in collaboration with Martin Lishman to allow customers to have their moisture meters checked and certificated for grain assurance schemes. Customers should contact Parts Manager Craig McColl on 01798 343660 for more details and to arrange this service. “Grain clinics have proved very popular at other Olivers events and it was very disappointing that we were unable to go ahead with this one” said >> Russell. “We hope, though, that farmers who

FEATURED DEALER: > Tom Street, service engineer

> Elliott Matthews, parts apprentice and Craig McColl, parts manager

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> Gavin Elliott, field sales manager; Russell Hallam, sales director (South); Charlie Tibble, sales support/demonstrator; Aaron Dadswell, field sales manager TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883


CUT TO THE CHASE Spearhead Machinery Ltd. Station Road, Salford Priors, Evesham, Worcestershire, WR11 8SW, England +44 (0)1789 491860 enquiries@spearheadmachinery.com spearheadmachinery.com SpearheadWorld


Sprayers, drills and cultivators for professional farmers As farmers ourselves, we understand the needs of professional farmers. We create innovative, award-winning technology that increases crop yields and reduces establishment costs by offering precision, performance and reliability. Visit our website, your local HORSCH dealer or call 01733 667895.



FEATURED DEALER: << had been planning to attend the open day will take the opportunity to drop in and talk to the team here at some other time. We are always happy to see customers old and new and chat about new machinery and equipment that can make life easier or more profitable and we plan to reschedule the open day and grain clinic at a later date.” Olivers’ servicing offer has been boosted by the completion of a new service bay that has replaced what was an old wooden store and taken the dealership from three bays to four, reflecting a growing demand for servicing from local farmers. The new bay is ideal for servicing tractors, while the conversion has also increased the business’ parts stock capacity. “We have seen increased business activity in all departments, and the fourth service bay will add to our capacity,” explained Russell. As well as tractors and other machinery, Olivers at Petworth looks after an estimated 40 combine harvesters and 20 foragers locally throughout the year. Service manager Jeremy Uren coordinates the branch’s seven mobile service engineers, who can be on farm to deal with a problem machine within hours. Jeremy is supported by service foreman Rob Booker to help manage machines on service contracts. All of the engineers operate fully equipped service vans and are manufacturer trained to diagnose and rectify faults quickly and efficiently to maximise customer’s productivity, which is particularly vital during harvest. Olivers can provide backup machines, including

foragers, from within the group to keep customers productive during the busiest time, from the green harvest to golden harvest. Parts supply is crucial during harvest. “As well as being able to order parts in quickly, we make sure that we keep a huge stock of all fast-moving spares like bearings, belts and blades,” explained parts manager Craig McColl. “Our goal is always to keep our farmers up and running and operating to maximum efficiency. In the event a part is not immediately available, Claas offer a 24-hour turnaround all year if ordered before 3pm.” Olivers can also support farmers by moving stock internally between its five branches at Luton, Reading, Tingewick, Petworth, and Winchester. Craig said the broader range of products on offer at Petworth had resulted in considerable growth for the store. “We have increased revenue from our existing customer base and attracted more customers by offering a wider range of products including new merchandise from Martin Lishman, Jack Pyke, Buckler boots and Granit Parts. “Horsch sales have been particularly strong, essentially because of the quality of the product. Horsch drills are as popular as ever, with the well-proven Sprinter tine drill coping very well on flint and stone and proving to be versatile in many conditions. “The Avatar single disc drill is an excellent choice for the farmer looking at a no-till system, while the Pronto cultivator disc drill can be used in a more conventional system, or equally used as a no-till disc

drill without the front cultivation discs.” Craig said other new franchises that were performing strongly included Bunning, which offers a comprehensive range of rear discharge manure spreaders, and Spearhead professional hedge trimmers and flex-wing toppers, with their focus on build quality and performance. With large livestock units and anaerobic digestion plants popular in this part of the South East, Olivers has also seen strong demand for Samson professional slurry tankers, which Craig described as the perfect machines for applying slurry and digestate. While the raft of new franchises has made a big difference to the dealership’s performance, Claas remains Oliver’s number one brand and is responsible for 75% of the turnover generated by the Petworth outlet. As well as the unmistakeable lime green combine harvesters and foragers for which the prestige brand is perhaps best known, Claas offers a full range of tractors that runs from 70hp to an impressive 530hp and can tackle everything from vineyard duties to the most challenging of agricultural tasks. Claas is the European market leader in both combines and forage harvesters, with the Claas Jaguar being the leading forager worldwide. Interestingly, the ‘Jaguar’ name is one it shares with just two other products. Since copyrighting the name in the 1930s, the car manufacturer has allowed its use by both the fighter aircraft of the >>

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FEATURED DEALER: << same name and also by the Claas forager, as noted by a letter of authorisation proudly displayed at the Claas factory. Sadly, while permission was given to use the name, the pouncing jaguar symbol is reserved to the luxury car marque. While the Claas Lexion sets the standards in high performance combines, the Jaguar range runs from a 408hp entry level machine through to the 925hp model designed with more intensive contractor usage in mind. In the Petworth area the sales of combines and foragers are fairly evenly split. Russell pointed to a “very challenging” start

to the year, not least because the weather has significantly affected the planned autumn sowing campaign, but said that Olivers had nonetheless “enjoyed a good start to the financial year, with equipment sales remaining buoyant”. He added: “We continue to invest heavily in training to allow us to deliver a first class sales, after-sales, parts and service offering. We are proud of the way we have built up our customer base and developed strong retail sectors across so many new product ranges. “We work hard to make sure we look after our

customers and their machinery, which means not just making sure they buy the right product but helping them get the best from it, supplying the parts they need and servicing it efficiently. “Agriculture is a tough environment and so we aim to sell quality products at a competitive price and then provide great after-care service. Whatever the product – from a 100hp tractor to a 100 tonne per hour Claas combine - we are committed to providing the support that farmers need and deserve, and we invest in our staff to allow them to deliver it.”

> Martin Lishman Pedestals and Fans in a grain store

POPULAR PRODUCTS Popular products within the Martin Lishman range available from Olivers at Petworth include Pile-Dry Pedestals and Fans, FloorVent Systems and Barn Owl Wireless automatic crop monitoring systems. Pile-Dry Pedestals cool crops quickly to prevent insects, conserve quality, reduce waste and meet crop assurance requirements and are best used with Martin Lishman Pile-Dry Fans to create a fast, low volume crop cooling system. Martin Lishman pedestals work on a sucking system which avoids condensation at the surface and the need for level filling, while the company’s high performance fans deliver high airflows at high pressures. The fans have an energy efficient IE3 motor and a hard-wearing aluminium body and are easy to access for maintenance. The Martin Lishman FloorVent under-floor ventilation system combines the

benefits of pedestals and fans with easier store handling and filling. It is more economical than a traditional under-floor system and is designed to allow easier filling as there is less chance that ducts will move. Hot air vents directly outside the building, avoiding the need for extraction fans. The Barn Owl Wireless automatic crop monitoring system can reduce energy bills by 40% or more, reducing crop cooling time and store management energy costs and ensuring crops remain in optimum condition. Barn Owl Wireless is an expandable modular system that sends temperature and humidity readings directly to a webpage. It allows the user to check temperature readings remotely and manage stores online, ensuring efficient use of cooling and drying fans and saving time and money by avoiding unnecessary visits to remote stores. > Barn Owl Wireless step by step

> FloorVent both inside and outside of the store

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Contact us for a demonstration today. Contact us for a demonstration today. OLIVERS Petworth OLIVERS Reading OLIVERS Winchester OLIVERS Luton

OLIVERS Tingewick OLIVERS Petworth OLIVERS Reading OLIVERS Winchester www.oliveragriculture.co.uk Tel: 01798 343660 Tel: 01189 723741 Tel: 01962 774590 Tel: 01582 727111 Tel: 01280 848494 Tel: 01798 Petworth 343660 Tel: 01189 Reading 723741 Tel: 01962 Winchester 774590  /Oliveragri  @Oliveragri @Oliversagri OLIVERS OLIVERS OLIVERS www.oliveragriculture.co.uk Tel: 01798 343660 Tel: 01189 723741 Tel: 01962 774590  /Oliveragri  @Oliveragri  @Oliversagri www.oliveragriculture.co.uk  /Oliveragri  @Oliveragri  @Oliversagri

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SURGE IN TRACTOR GPS THEFTS Farmers are being warned of a new rural crime wave after 24 tractor GPS kits were stolen from West Sussex farming businesses in a recent spate of rural crime. The GPS kits, totalling over £130,000 were taken from farm businesses in a 10-15 mile radius from late February. Other farms in the South East have been targeted, with latest reports of thefts coming in from Oxfordshire. Rebecca Davidson, NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist, said: “Theft of GPS equipment is now a serious problem for farmers. “We first saw thieves targeting GPS equipment from arable farms in East Anglia and the crime has now spread to other parts of the country. Thieves appear to be targeting farms in one locality, and then moving their activity to another area to avoid detection. “Used extensively by farmers to ensure that seed, fertiliser and sprays are delivered in precise amounts while also making harvesting more efficient, GPS kits typically cost over £10,000. “Rural thieves tend to target high-value but portable items – and this appears to be what is driving this rural crime trend. “In an attempt to stop thieves targeting GPS kit, manufacturers now provide PIN numbers to prevent the equipment being used by others.

“Most GPS kits in use on farms today are fitted to tractors as an easily-removable accessory. To prevent thefts, farmers have been removing the kit when it’s not in use and storing it under lock and key. “Some tractors now incorporate GPS kits in the cab dashboard. We had hoped that this development would deter thieves – but we are now getting claims reported where thieves have smashed dashboards to remove GPS equipment, causing damage costing thousands of pounds to repair as well as the loss of the GPS unit.” West Sussex farmer and NFU county chairman Mark Chandler explained that the most serious impact of GPS thefts was the disruption to farming operations. “It takes about a week to replace a GPS system and get it set up ready for work, and that can mean missing a weather window putting a crop growth cycle at risk,” he said.


• Remove GPS guidance receivers, aerials and antenna globes from tractors when not in use and keep them in a secure locked place whenever possible • Consider fitting security tethers or brackets to stop units being removed

• Mark your postcode on GPS units either with a UV pen, engraving tool or forensic marking system such as Datatag • Store machinery in locked buildings whenever possible • Where locking machines away isn’t an option, consider fitting mains or battery-operated alarms to cover around the perimeter of areas where machines are stored • CCTV and intruder alarms will deter most thieves, but make sure they are checked regularly to ensure they will work when you need them and they are placed where they won’t be triggered by animals or foliage moving in the wind • Record machinery serial numbers and photograph kit to help police identify stolen items and increase the chances of them being recovered • Let employees know the security arrangements that are expected of them while working on the farm • Join local farmwatch or social media security groups to keep in touch with rural crime trends in your area • Encourage farm staff to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour or vehicles to the police on 101, or 999 in an emergency.



Leading farming, animal welfare and countryside organisations, alongside rural Police and Crime Commissioners, have urged the government to revise ‘inadequate’ legislation that is hindering attempts to tackle the devastating impact of illegal hare coursing. In a letter to the Secretary of State for DEFRA and the Home Office, the coalition has called for the 1831 Game Act to be amended to give enhanced powers to the police and criminal justice system, including: • Giving the police and courts full seizure and forfeiture powers for dogs and vehicles. • Removing the existing limits on penalties, which is currently a maximum £1,000 fine. • Enabling police to recover kenneling costs from offenders. It is also asking for better information and guidance for magistrates and prosecutors and support for a more effective approach from the police, building on the success of initiatives such as Operation Galileo, which has seen hare coursing incidents in Lincolnshire reduce from nearly 1,600 in 2016/17 to 686 in 2018/19.

Tenant farmers are set to benefit from greater flexibility in tenancy law under new plans to modernise “outdated legislation” and boost productivity, DEFRA says. In a response to its consultation on agricultural tenancy law in England DEFRA confirmed it will amend the Agricultural Holdings Act (AHA) to “make it fit for purpose”. This will enable tenant farmers to be more productive and have greater freedom in their business planning, it claims. Amendments include repealing the minimum succession retirement age of 65 to allow tenants to decide when it is right for them to retire and hand over the farm to the next generation. A new dispute mechanism will also be introduced to enable AHA tenants to ask to vary restrictions in tenancy agreements and make it easier for them to apply for the future Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme. Victoria Prentis farming minister said: “Agricultural tenancies account for a third of all farmland in this country, so tackling barriers to productivity for the tenanted sector is vital for unlocking the potential of the farming industry as a whole.”


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Just another day at the office Passionate people wanted. Plumpton College is hiring agriculture pros looking to make a difference.

Find out more and apply: plumpton.ac.uk/our-college/vacancies There has never been a more appropriate time to consider an Agricultural teaching career at Plumpton College. With the significance of change in the industry and ambitious plans for continued development at the college, we’re excited about the future and are looking for likeminded individuals passionate about farming and agriculture to seize this opportunity to play a significant role in driving the future development of new entrants into the industry. The college farm provides one of the largest and most diverse educational estates in the country, and is home to a range of commercial mixed enterprises so is the ideal base upon which to deliver the very highest standards in education and training. It is a professional, welcoming and safe environment, great strides have been made in terms of our performance, productivity and environmental impact and our recent LEAF accreditation is an excellent example of that. If this wasn’t enough to tempt you, the college is about to embark on a £7m investment to further enhance facilities at the farm and beyond to ensure students are exposed to the latest cutting edge technologies, including robotics in the dairy and a brand new state of the art high welfare and RSPCA assured pig unit. Coupled with this, the college’s new farm shop and café open in Brighton this summer, providing the perfect opportunity to demonstrate and educate students in every aspect of the supply chain relating to British produce. So whether your area of expertise is livestock, arable, machinery or agri-business, we’d like to hear from you.

Find out more & apply: plumpton.ac.uk/our-college/vacancies

No teaching experience necessary Acclaimed teacher training scheme provided 37 days holiday plus Christmas closure Great pension scheme Trainee Teachers & Lecturers: Up to £30k per annum Programme Managers: Up to £35k per annum


In response to the rapid and on-going expansion of the UK wine industry and a demand for technically trained vineyard operatives, a new apprenticeship scheme has been introduced at Plumpton College. The first cohort of Viticulture Apprentices will commence at Plumpton College in March 2020, with students coming from sponsoring vineyards across the South East, South West, and from as far afield as Norfolk. “Nine enthusiastic apprentices began on Monday 13 March. The week included coming to grips with understanding the biology of the grapevine, theory and practical lessons on pruning and trellis repairs and an introduction to health and safety in vineyards” explained Dr Gregory Dunn, Curriculum Manager, Wine Division, Plumpton College. This apprenticeship is the professional standard for people working as vineyard operatives in the UK wine industry and is based on the Level 3 Crop Technician Standard. A Vineyard Operative’s duties include carrying out operations relating to the establishment and management of vineyards in accordance with employer’s requirements, ensuring that vineyards are established according to best practice, and that grapevines are managed



throughout the year, resulting in a reliable and sustainable harvest of grapes. The vineyard is a complex and dynamic environment where apprentices are taught within an appropriate Health & Safety framework. The course will enable them to make and carry out informed decisions in key areas including; vineyard establishment, pruning and trellis management, canopy management in spring and summer, pest and disease control, yield estimation and management, maturity estimation and harvesting, environmental sustainability and machinery and equipment use.

The skills required, along with underpinning theory, is being taught on the commercial Plumpton College vineyard at Rock Lodge and at nearby vineyards in ten one week blocks over a two-year period. These blocks will occur during ‘less busy times’ during the vineyard management calendar and will be structured so that apprentices will return to their employer’s vineyard/s and apply the skills they have learned. The weekly blocks will be supplemented with student use of the Plumpton College VLE (virtual learning environment) dedicated to the Viticulture Apprentice scheme.

Interested employers or prospective apprentices are encouraged to contact Hamish Dow (hamish.dow@plumton.ac.uk) for further information about current opportunities.


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I hope this finds readers managing to weather the extreme difficulties the whole country, nay the entire world, has been enduring for the past couple of months. As someone who has slight recollections of the 1939-45 war, when Britain was under different pressures, those of us who live in the countryside have to be thankful for many small mercies. Not the least of these has been the manner in which our small communities and close neighbours have rekindled the wartime spirit that was such a part of our fight against Adolf’s forces. My wife and I have been almost overcome by the kindness of neighbours, some almost unknown and newish residents, who have phoned or called with offers to help with enquiries of ‘anything you need’, from transport to collecting provisions or other services. Given the risk of spreading this virus to others, and since we are no longer in the absolute prime of our lives, these kind thoughts are so appreciated. We are also able to ‘self isolate’ on our own land, like many farming families, so making life a lot more liveable, particularly when you think how restricting it will be for many people, pent up in a small flat in a city with the only way out a communal lift to the street. Let us all hope the Government’s warnings on unnecessary mixing and spreading the virus is heeded and that its shadow will soon pass. So many people have been sorely tested and yet the British are an amazingly strong and resolute race when under extreme pressure. These past few months have really tested that spirit again. All this follows the dramas we have suffered in the way of a really wet winter. ‘Experts’ will say it’s the wettest, or warmest, spell since 1890, or since records began. But the weather has been around a lot longer than the ‘experts’ and their records, while history talks about things like the ice age and the great floods, and snow which reached the upper windows and stayed for many weeks. I remember hot, dry summers which went on for many weeks in 1959, 1975 and 1976, causing havoc to farming across the country. I clearly remember floods in the fifties which were close to qualifying as ‘one in a hundred year’ events, with unbroken water stretching a mile from one village, close to the flood plain, to the next. In recent years I have seen similarly named ‘one in a hundred year’ floods locally which have become ‘one in three year’ events, but which have been caused almost entirely by the lack of river maintenance by the Environment Agency. Yet with this absurd recent practice of calling these winter storms Storm A, B or C they are able to allocate the blame and hide neglect and incompetence behind this official conspiracy. The agency is, in my view, expensive, surplus to needs and something that passed its sell by date almost as soon as it started operations in 1996. It


> Only accessible by boat; this was six years ago, but the entrance to our farm in the Arun Valley was equally impassable this year provides cosy directorships for too many worthy people and unjustified staff, and for what? Certainly nothing around areas of the countryside I see regularly, and I guess if you ask the householders in the worst flood hit areas in the Midlands they will say the same. Yet if you ask residents around the River Parrett in Somerset for their opinion it would be quite different. Why? Because the EA was forced, by a knowledgeable environment minister into removing years of accumulations of silt from the river, so allowing the waters to get away to the sea. A minister who understood that water runs better downhill! Who realised, like Christopher Robin, that Pooh Sticks float with the current and that if a twig dropped in the water drifts upstream in a non-tidal ditch or brook there is something blocked downstream. And unless this madness is taken in hand, I expect that the blockage will soon be caused by dams built by beavers being released with the encouragement and blessing of similar ‘experts’, the Chris Packhams and George Mombiots of this enlightened age. Rant over, it’s summer now. But let’s be ready for the next ‘one in three year’ flood ‘event’ – unless someone with some sense gets the rivers de-silted. Works are now progressing with the vineyard. The land is being ploughed in readiness for the planters and Emma is learning about her new life; it’s an exciting new world for her and an interesting


one for us. We finally sold our last remaining cattle through Hailsham Market in March. Ten strong British Friesian steers that sold better than I expected, but I think this virus concern helped the trade. It is a strange feeling, walking round empty cattle sheds and empty meadows where I have seen and tended our cattle my whole life. Now the grass has all been sprayed off and, thankfully, land dried enough to spread the last muck and get ready for drilling maize. Some 20 acres of brookland has been left in the hope a neighbour will run cattle on it for the summer, because since it has been down to direct drilled grass for a long time, I am a little worried it might be hosting wireworm which, as most farmers know, are now protected by EU environmental legislation. It’s strange how almost every pesticide that works to the benefit of farming has been banned from use. Surely, in today’s troubled world we need farmers able to grow healthy crops rather than protecting such pests? I am advised the only way we can hope to stop the wireworm is to ‘give the crop a good steady rolling after drilling’. I hope the heavy roller doesn’t flatten any of the little things.

NICK ADAMES Former dairy farmer

Canterbury office now open

Providing legal support to families and businesses since 1895 We would like to thank our agricultural clients for supporting us through the past 125 years. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s to 125 more years together! Maidstone | Canterbury | London 01622 690691 | brachers.co.uk | hello@brachers.co.uk @brachersllp

Brachers LLP

CELEBRATING 125 YEARS > Some members of the agricultural team (from left to right) Mary Rimmer; Abigail Brightwell; Christopher Eriksson-Lee, Joanna Worby, managing partner; Sarah Gaines; Rhia Davis; Lee May; and Sarah Webster


After 125 years supporting local farm businesses, Brachers is clearly a firm that takes a pride in its heritage and in the long-term support it has given to farmers and landowners since it was founded in 1895. While the firm’s heritage is important, the Maidstone-based solicitors’ practice has its sights set firmly on the future and continues to provide client-focused advice that aims to maximise the business opportunities for modern farmers. Although today’s world is very different to the one in which Henry Bracher founded the firm, when he was Clerk to the Guardians of the Hollingbourne workhouse, Brachers’ commitment to the community and its clients has remained the same throughout its history. That focus on delivering good service and providing a broad range of advice has seen the firm grow significantly over the past century and a quarter. One of the biggest firms in Kent, it has now topped the 200-plus mark in terms of staff and has just expanded its operation in east Kent by opening a new Canterbury office. Partner and Head of Agriculture Sarah Webster recognises that the history of the firm is a vital touchstone to its current success but also believes that it is the breadth of the operation that sets it apart from other farming-focused practices. She pointed out that what she describes as “true team work” between the various departments within Brachers allows the firm to provide holistic

SUPPORTING CLIENTS THROUGH CHANGING AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPE advice to farmers and landowners that draws on the skills of the whole firm. As a property expert, she knows that if any of the work she undertakes has another legal angle to it, she can quickly bring in one of the firm’s other lawyers to make sure that Brachers’ advice to clients is comprehensive and multi-dimensional. “We pride ourselves on working together with our clients and other professional advisers, taking the time to sit down and talk to many of our farming and landowner clients,” she said. “Those close relationships mean we can provide timely advice and support new initiatives from the outset. “It can just be a throwaway line about a potential opportunity, but by picking up that thread and working closely with the client and other experts, we can often help turn a potential good idea into a fully fledged, income-generating project,” Sarah explained. “Equally importantly, we can avoid some of the


pitfalls. In many cases it’s important to structure things carefully and do everything in the right order to give the best possible return and make sure the work is delivered in the most practical and tax-efficient way.” While the firm values the personal touch provided by face-to-face interaction, Brachers continues to move with the times and has issued staff with tablet PCs that allow them to work in the field – literally in some cases – along with a considerable amount of other investment in IT. This also means lawyers are no longer restricted by geography when it comes to helping clients. “While we value our 125-year heritage, we also embrace the opportunities provided by modern technology,” Sarah explained. “The new tablets really have freed the staff up to work in a more effective way while out and about.” The firm has a rich heritage within the local farming community. Founder Henry Bracher was

Honorary Secretary to the Kent Branch of the National Famer’s Union (NFU), a role which was continued by his son Philip. Retired partner Douglas Horner was also involved with the NFU at a national level and some of Brachers’ agricultural clients have been supported by the firm since the beginning. Although not specifically set up as an agricultural practice, because Brachers was founded in the Garden of England during a time when agriculture was the predominant activity in this part of the world, the firm quickly gained an expertise in the

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sector that it has developed and enhanced over the past 125 years. “Brachers was set up to support a community in which farming played an important part for much of the last century and it remains important to this day,” said Sarah. In these changing times, agricultural and rural-based businesses are still a vital part of the local economy, they are facing new challenges and require innovative advice to help them modernise and make the most of the opportunities that are

increasingly generating new income streams. “While Brachers’ clients enjoy the benefits of being supported by a large and well-resourced firm which operates on a par with many of the firms in the city, the fees are more realistic for farmers and landowners in the South East,” Sarah explained. Of course, there is always a cost attached to expert advice, but the cost of poor advice can be much higher. At a recent agricultural event, a former client who had gone elsewhere for legal support came to the Brachers stand and told the team >>



CELEBRATING 125 YEARS << how much he regretted his decision. While farmers are increasingly knowledgeable about the opportunities that come with owning land, it is vitally important to take an expert, independent, look at all the options. “For example, if a landowner is asked for permission to have a pipe routed through a corner of a field, it’s really not enough to simply agree a fee, sign a document and bank the money,” Sarah warned. “There are many other issues to be considered, such as how the pipe would impact the landowner’s future use or development on the land. In this case we would draft an agreement to include a ‘lift and shift’ clause if future development was likely. Landowners only have one chance to get it right, and expert advice is critical.” Sarah advises on a whole range of property related issues, including sales and purchases, tenancies, issues related to the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, options, easements and overage – where landowners are able to share in the increased value of land that is developed after they sell it. She works closely with Christopher Eriksson-Lee, who heads up the firm’s private client team on estate and succession planning. Quite often this work involves Brachers’ corporate and commercial team, which provides advice on business structures. Sarah believes it is “the breadth of skills, true team work both internally and with other professionals and unwavering focus on providing comprehensive, thought‐through advice that highlights Brachers’ key value of being with their clients all the way”. Other specialists in the team include partner and planning expert Lee May, and partner Deborah Cain, a leading contentious probate lawyer who can help to untangle family disputes around a challenged legacy. They are supported by Tim Turner, who provides advice on corporate and commercial matters, Rhia Davis, who deals with family matters including divorce and estate planning, and Abigail Brightwell, an employment law specialist.

With farming facing many challenges, not least in responding to climate change and the post-Brexit landscape, diversification is increasingly important, with renewable energy and making the best use of farm buildings just two of the options being considered by many. When diversification is on the agenda, Lee May and his planning team are there to make sense of the legislation, interpret planning law and help landowners achieve a profitable return on their investment. “Diversification is an important way to create a new income stream while making the best use of the farm’s assets, but it needs to be done properly to maximise the return on investment,” Lee explained. “Planning is complex in the 21st century. Most schemes need a huge range of reports – on ecology, archaeology, landscape, topography and traffic generation and many other aspects – and every one of them is an important part of the overall submission.” Brachers’ 125 years of experience and network of consultants means it has good contacts with the people who can provide those reports, allowing the firm to bring together a coherent, well-presented case. Changing the use of a building, or inviting the public on to a farm, also brings the landowner into contact with a raft of new legislation, not least around health and safety. As well as giving planning advice, Lee can advise on all aspects of health and safety, environmental health legislation, transportation issues and fire safety, while colleagues who can advise on tax planning, raising finance and business structure issues are just a phone call away, thanks to Brachers’ multi-disciplinary approach. With renewable energy still one of the biggest diversification opportunities, Lee pointed out the need for landowners to take professional advice when approached by solar energy companies. “It’s dangerous and could be costly to strike a deal with, for instance, a solar farm business without agreeing who will be responsible for removing the panels at

> 1998: George Bracher at his retirement the end of their life or how the payments to the farm will be structured, for example.” While there is currently a shortage of good quality industrial units in the South East, and government advice is generally in favour of their provision in repurposed farm buildings, Lee pointed out that farmers should always use professional support to give their planning application the best chance of success. Tourism is also opening up new diversification opportunities, with Brachers able to advise on planning permission for everything from holiday lets and ‘glamping’ to petting zoos and other farmbased days out. Lee also deals with the planning issues around retail units and farm shops as well as advising on using farm buildings as event centres and even wedding venues. He pointed out that diversification is often good for succession planning within farming families, as having a portfolio of businesses to hand over to the next generation – in addition to the family farm – is an attractive business option. “Farming is changing,” Lee concluded. “In our experience, the businesses that will make the most of those changes are those that are forward thinking and prepared to grasp new opportunities. Brachers is determined to provide the professional advice they need to help make that happen.”

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CELEBRATING 125 YEARS TIMELINE OF MAJOR EVENTS IN BRACHERS’ HISTORY 1895: Henry James Bracher founds firm on Earl Street, Maidstone 1912: Henry’s son, Guy Bracher, and son-in-law Frank Miskin join firm; name is changed to Bracher, Son & Miskin 1916: Guy Bracher killed in Battle of the Somme 1923: Henry’s son Philip Bracher joins firm 1930: Office moves to Star House on Pudding Lane, Maidstone > Lee May and Joanna Worby in Canterbury

IN THE HEART OF THE AREA While based in Maidstone for the past 125 years, Brachers has had a presence in east Kent since 2013, when the firm opened a small office in Discovery Park, Sandwich. The aim was to support the firm’s existing east Kent clients as well as the entrepreneurs and SMEs operating out of the modern start-up space by providing timely on-site advice to new and growing concerns. The firm has now increased its presence in the area by relocating the satellite operation to a 24,800 sq ft office in Watling Street, in the heart of Canterbury, with the aim of providing a broader range of services in a central location. The new office opened in March. “We had space for a four or five-strong team in Discovery Park, but the Canterbury office will allow us to start with ten people and expand to around 26 as demand grows,” explained Lee May, who is heading up the new office. “The premises are in the heart of an area that is well served by professional services such as accountants, valuers, architects and surveyors and we believe we will be able to add to what is already on offer to businesses looking for a broad range of advice. Our aim is to add value.” Brachers’ Managing Partner Joanna Worby said: “The time is right for us to make this significant investment to support our growing client base.

In today’s highly competitive legal world, firms need to be more aware of their clients’ needs, and to be agile in responding to opportunities while remaining focused on delivering the best possible service.” Each of Bracher’s departments will be represented at the new Canterbury office, with support from other specialists just a phone call or email away. “We believe that the new office will be more accessible to more people and will allow us to deliver an even better service to farmers and other businesses and individuals in east Kent,” added Brachers partner and Head of Agriculture Sarah Webster. The move to Canterbury coincides with the firm’s 125 anniversary celebrations. The firm, which has always prided itself on putting clients at the heart of the business, has several community initiatives planned for the year. As well as supporting its charity of the year, Spadework, the firm will sponsor an Elmer elephant which will be part of a trail of 50 art sculptures around Maidstone in the summer. Brachers has for several years sponsored and will continue to be aligned with Leeds Castle Concert, even though this year’s event has sadly been postponed until 2021. The firm is also hoping to plant 125 trees across the region to help reduce the effects of climate change.

1935: Gordon Brown joins as articled clerk to Frank Miskin, introducing third family to practice 1942: Frank’s son Michael Miskin joins firm 1948: Frank Miskin becomes board member of the Council of The Law Society of England and Wales 1955: Philip’s son, George Bracher joins firm after graduating from Oxford. 1970: Gordon’s son, Chris Brown joins firm 1987: Name changed to Brachers; firm buys Somerfield House, Maidstone 1990: Extension to Somerfield House opened by Governor of the Bank of England and Mayor of Maidstone. Brachers Charitable Trust set up to support community initiatives 1992: Peter Prince named Brachers’ Managing Partner 1995: Brachers celebrates 100 years in operation 1996: Geoff Dearing named Brachers’ Managing Partner 1997: Brachers opens Medway House, Maidstone 1998: George Bracher retires 2003: Chris Brown, a descendant of one of the firm’s original three families, retires, marking the end of an era 2004: John Sheath named Brachers’ Managing Partner 2009: Firm becomes an LLP, moving on from a traditional partnership 2013: Joanna Worby named Brachers’ Managing Partner to become the first female managing partner in Kent. 2015: Law firm Watson Neville acquired 2019: Firm celebrates most successful financial year ever with turnover of £15 million 2020: Brachers celebrates 125 years in operation. Canterbury office opens to provide a better service to east Kent clients.

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The coronavirus pandemic has created uncertainties not just around travel and tourism but within the meat trade, which is facing a high degree of uncertainty over how it will develop over the coming months. Reports of the New Zealand lamb kill being depleted because of falling demand from China have led to concerns regarding where New Zealand lamb will finish up and what effect that will have on the lamb market in the weeks leading up to Easter. This is frustrating, but we are facing a situation that is unique and the uncertainties are many. Up until the middle of March, when this report was being written, we were seeing a tremendous sheep trade at levels not seen for many years and certainly well in excess of 12 months ago. The normal trend over the past few years has been for prices to continue to rise through to Easter. If they do, we are likely to see the high prices being maintained, but that now has to be qualified by the comments above. The sale of hoggets in October/November last year, when farmers were nervous about Brexit, has led to a shortage now, so boosting the trade. The cull ewe trade is also exceptionally strong and at record levels, probably £50 per ewe more than 12 months ago. The store hogget trade is of course following the finished hogget trade and is again at exceptionally good levels. The cattle trade continues as it has done for many months, with best butcher’s cattle still a keen trade, commercial cattle a firm trade and any out of spec or

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Stanfords T: 01206 842156 E: info@stanfords-colchester.co.uk www.stanfords-colchester.co.uk poorly finished cattle more difficult. This is typical of the time of year, but more cattle could be sold in the live ring to advantage and at Colchester we would be pleased to see more cattle come forward. As always, if the price is not acceptable you can always take the beast home. Best cattle are trading at levels which are just above break even and no great joy but at least realistic. The store cattle trade is picking up as more people are looking to turn cattle out to grass; this is a seasonal trend and numbers are generally tight. Cull cow trade is remaining firm for the best, with processing meat always required. The pig trade is as it has been for many months, with some trepidation regarding Chinese demand and increased numbers on the continent. It is uncertain how matters will develop. It is uncertainty that is causing most concerns and hopefully by next month there will have been an upturn in all sectors with more certainty as to the way forward. We can only hope! It was certainly good to see a change in the weather by mid-March, with a more settled spell of weather and a few more smiles on farmers’ faces, although it has to be said there are more acres undrilled than for many years. Potato planting is very slow, with land conditions totally unsuitable, and Spring crops in general are some weeks behind. As always livestock markets produce an open market to customers, both buyers and sellers, and we look forward to continued support from all of those.


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Sheep industry leaders are questioning new advice from vets suggesting routine castration and tail docking, which have taken place for centuries, should only be carried out as a last resort. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Sheep Veterinary Society (SVS) advise that in the absence of licensed local anaesthesia and pain relief products in the UK, efforts should be made to reduce the need for “painful husbandry procedures”, especially where there are suitable alternative options. They say castration of ram lambs should only be carried out when there are no suitable alternatives available and “as with any intervention, tail docking should only occur after it is agreed under a veterinary flock health plan.” The BVA’s statement prompted a response from the National Sheep Association. Phil Stocker NSA Chief Executive said: “We do believe the best solution to allay concerns would be access to readily available and affordable pain relief for farmers to use on their stock however we’re not there yet. “In the meantime, we have to trust farmers to make the best management decisions for their sheep, and if they believe the risk is there with entire males, and non-docked lambs, they should not be ostracised for that and we should not risk raising this subject in the public arena.”


EXCEPTIONAL SHEEP PRICES Price volatility continues in the sheep sector, with a relatively large difference in price from one time of the year to another and unforeseen factors often impacting supply or demand. This makes marketing a lottery, with certain sectors of the industry benefitting while others suffer. Just two years ago, at the turn of the year there was genuine fear of a large carry over of hoggets and concern that unless demand improved significantly the trade would be difficult and disappointing. The fears were unfounded and against all predictions the lamb price rocketed from 180p/kg in January to 235p/kg by the end of March, with record gross returns of ÂŁ150 per head not uncommon by the end of the season. At such high levels, heavy losses were suffered in the supply chain and a repeat was thought unlikely in the foreseeable future. Last year, the hoggets performed well, with an abundance of keep and the majority coming forward in good condition. There were also a relatively high percentage of heavy weights in the market. As expected, following the exceptional trade of the previous year, prices were average at best and lagged in the 180p to 200p bracket, only improving marginally towards the end of the season as supplies tightened. The marketing of the latest crop of lambs born in the spring of 2019 has been equally challenging. There have been wide variations in price throughout the year, with unusual factors impacting on the time of sale and fluctuation in demand. During the autumn, a relatively large number were sold in the finished market, with UK monthly slaughtering up on the previous year mainly due to producers fearful of Brexit and others selling into a rather subdued store market due to the limited keep situation. How the market has improved since the turn of the year has been beyond all expectations, with prices returning to the exceptional levels of

two years ago. From an overall average of 210p in January, the trade has improved throughout February, and at the time of going to press in mid-March is approaching 250p and a rolling average of ÂŁ96, up by some ÂŁ16 on the year. In addition to reduced domestic slaughtering, with February figures down by 8% on the year, the UK market continues to benefit from strong export demand into Europe and tight global supplies, with both New Zealand and Australia exploiting more lucrative markets in China and the United States. The throughput at Ashford Market has been unexpectedly high since the turn of the year, with a total of 46,000 head sold, up by some 12% on the year. Many producers/finishers have marketed stock earlier than usual due to the persistent rain, poor root crop growth and general lack of keep, and many have sold into a strong store market as opposed to purchasing concentrate feed to finish. At the time of going to press the last market on Tuesday 17 March attracted the second largest entry of this season, at over 3,000 finished hoggets, the best trade to average 245p and an overall market average of ÂŁ105. The best heavyweights made in excess of ÂŁ120 and topping at ÂŁ148, and smart handyweights attracted premiums in excess of 300p. In addition, 1,500 store hoggets were penned (annual throughput up 40% on year) and


The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) is calling on government to include dairy workers on a shortage occupation list drawn up by its Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). RABDF fears the industry will be left with a severe labour shortage because the government is refusing to class dairy workers as â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;highly skilledâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and they have not been included on the MAC shortage occupation list. Tim Brigstocke RABDF policy director said: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Migrant workers have a huge range of skills that are core to the running of dairy farm businesses, from operating high-tech computers to ensuring optimum cow health and welfare. Although they have the skills needed on the farm whether they can demonstrate them with level equivalent qualifications is a different matter.â&#x20AC;?

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prices reflected the strong returns in the finished section with the best trading readily in the ÂŁ90 to ÂŁ96 bracket and a favourable overall average of ÂŁ83. The best was kept to last, and in the cull ewe section the trade was the dearest ever recorded at Ashford Market, with competition fierce from start to finish. Some 850 ewes topped at ÂŁ169 and averaged ÂŁ111 overall and very average sorts made around ÂŁ100. Although the general trade for sheep meat has been very strong throughout 2020, with UK prices supported by strong European demand and tight global supplies, the recent improvement in return is very much due to unprecedented customer demand as consumers stockpile in response to the escalating coronavirus crisis and government intervention to control the spread of the disease which is likely to intensify over the coming days. The short term prospects are bright for all sheep meat, and with Easter approaching and Ramadan starting at the end of April there will be no easing of demand.


Reporting on the sheep market at Ashford T: 01233 502222 www.hobbsparker.co.uk


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With just a few ewes left to go, we are, at the time of writing, in the fortuitous position of being able to see clearly the light at the end of the lambing tunnel. Lambing always seems to be a series of milestones which help to break the operation up into nice little bite sized chunks and seem to help move the whole process along. One of the key milestones is reaching the position where we have as many mothering pens available, mucked out, disinfected and ready to receive new occupants as we have ewes left to lamb. We have always lambed outside, but just to help in mothering up, giving lambs the best of starts and for ease of carrying out routine tasks, we have a few undercover mothering pens; ewes and lambs are walked up from the lambing paddock and penned up for 24 to 48 hours before returning to grass in a separate paddock. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a simple system that has served us well for more than 30 years and which, in a good season with dry and warm weather (they do happen sometimes) may only be employed for the odd ewes and lambs where there is a particular concern. Conversely, in the sort of season that we are experiencing, availability of mothering pens can be a bit of a worry. Once all the pens are full there is pressure on to turn ewes with lambs at foot back out to grass, even if weather conditions are not ideal. Reaching the point where this ceases to be an issue is always a bit of a relief. Lambing this year has been, at the same time, both very easy and sheer hard work; very much a lambing of two halves. The ewes really have acquitted themselves very well. My ideal lambing would be one in which I do not have to provide assistance to any ewe during lambing, a goal that was almost achieved this season, with only one ewe



requiring significant assistance. This was a ewe that decided to deliver a pair of twins at the same time, two noses showing and no feet, but even this was quickly resolved without a great deal of fuss. Apart from that I have had to straighten out a couple of elbow locks and no more, making it probably, from the ewe point of view, one of my easiest-ever lambing seasons. Lamb size has really been very good, probably just about where it should be, with just a few that really did not need to be any larger; good robust lambs that have been full of get up and go from the instant that they hit the ground. The ewes, apart from a couple that have been a little slow to come to milk, have also lambed down absolutely full of milk, and this has only improved now that they are onto an abundance of good, fresh grass. There is always a bit of a worry that grass that has grown over the winter might be a bit stale, but that has certainly not been the case this season and as a result hard feed is being cut back more rapidly than normal. In addition the lambs have responded remarkably well to the abundant milk supplies and are growing away quickly in spite of some fairly grim weather. They may look a bit grubby, but if you stand still long enough you can almost see them grow; proving the old adage that a lamb can put up with a lot of abuse (from the weather) if it has a full belly. It will be interesting to see what eight-week lamb weights are like. I suspect they will be very good. My target each year is for every ewe to rear 60% or more of her own body weight by eight weeks. This is a useful figure when it comes to selecting flock replacements, as it is a combination of the milkiness of the ewe and the ability of her lambs to perform, with a strong focus on the former; ewe lambs out of


milky ewes tend to inherit that milky trait. The other side of the coin this season has been the weather, in particular the volume and frequency of rain, all too frequently accompanied by strong, at times storm force, winds. The rain and wind can itself present a significant risk of hypothermia in newborn lambs. Fortunately, with good strong lambs and very milky and maternal ewes, this has not been an issue for us even during the worst of nights. It has been the impact of the rain on soil conditions that has made things most difficult. I know that we have not had to endure the floods faced by some producers in other parts of the country; in comparison we really have been lucky. With soils at field capacity, each fresh shower of rain simply has nowhere to go, which has led to puddling of paddocks (at times small lakes) and generated a great deal of mud, which really does make everything hard work. At times simply getting around has been a bit of a struggle. It has also meant the sheep need to be spread fairly thinly to avoid too much poaching, resulting in some grass not being used as effectively as it could be, but it will come again. In addition, simply turning out to do the sheep rounds in the dark, night after cold, wet and windy night, can be morale sapping and make what should be quite a simple and often-enjoyable task hard work. What we need now is a good spell of settled weather, simply to dry things out a bit. The forecast for the next week is certainly looking rather more promising than it has been recently. I hope that we have seen the end of winter, but it is still only the middle of March. For those that have yet to lamb, good luck. I hope all your ewes perform as well as ours and wish you much better weather.



As a farm vet you can always tell when lambing or calving time has started from how many mid-week out of hour calls you receive. When lambs and calves start hitting the ground, the number of call outs increases week on week. These vary and can be anything from calvings, lambings or prolapses, to collapsed, hypothermic calves in need of some fluids and a pick-me-up. This month has been no exception! Another common call out is to examine down cows. You have all been there; you look in the shed early doors and find her laid down. You walk over to her and she either attempts to rise but just can’t quite make it or she simply isn’t interested in getting up. The causes of this are numerous, complex, often multifactorial, and the prognosis can be influenced by many other factors. A “down cow” is any cow that will not stand due to a primary issue. This primary issue may be nerve damage caused by a difficult calving, external trauma, metabolic disease e.g. milk fever or a toxic process such as an E.coli mastitis. Early identification is key and prompt treatment of the inciting cause is important to prevent her becoming a “downer cow”. A “downer cow” is a “down cow” which has gone on to develop “downer cow syndrome”. This is where a cow has gone down, and although the initial cause has been resolved, the secondary muscle or secondary nerve damage is preventing her from rising. Up to 80% of down cows can develop this syndrome. The extent of muscle damage can be diagnosed with a blood test by your vet and there are cut off values which can be useful in predicting prognosis. Treatment is centred around providing her with TLC- good grub, plenty of access to water (or regular drenching), deep bedding and regular turning/lifting 7-8 times daily to reduce the muscle/nerve damage (similar to a nurse preventing bed sores). If this can’t be provided, we must consider the welfare of the cow and sometimes culling may be indicated. Good nursing care massively improves outcomes; however it often takes longer than seven days of nursing for the cow to stand, with some animals taking over a month to recover! It is important to remember the crucial role of nursing care next time you are faced with a down cow!


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Calving is one of the most critical times of a cow’s life. A smooth calving is the first step towards a successful and profitable lactation as well as providing the best possible start for the newborn calf. Normally only 3-8% of animals will require assistance at calving although, for breeds such as Belgian Blues, up to 80% of animals will require some form of assistance at calving. Dystocia (calving difficulty) profoundly affects calf health and survival, as well as cow lactation and reproductive performance. Calf mortality is generally around 3% from calvings classified as ‘normal’, compared to 57% when calves are born from calvings classified as ‘severe dystocia’. Calves born from cows with dystocia also have poorer daily liveweight gain. Planning for an easy calving begins when the cow/heifer is served and bull selection is crucial. With many beef breeds getting bigger and more muscled, choosing an easy calving bull has never been more important; both for that pregnancy and also looking into the future for replacement of breeding stock within the herd. Estimated breeding values (EBVs) can be useful and in a lot of cases, can be accessed through breed association websites. It is important to remember EBVs only compare within breeds, so an easy calving Belgian Blue could still cause more trouble than an average Aberdeen Angus. Many issues encountered at calving can be avoided by ensuring that the cow is not too fat or too thin, so it is important pregnant animals are managed appropriately during their pregnancy so that they are at body condition score 2.5-3 when they calve. Foetal requirements for energy and protein are significant at the latter stages of gestation, with energy requirements increasing to 1.3-1.5 times maintenance. Therefore rations must contain sufficient energy to support maintenance and foetal growth; however care must be taken to avoid over-conditioning and the associated issues (increased risk of dystocia and metabolic disorders) this brings. Delivering the live calf is only the first step; achieving early and adequate intake of high-quality colostrum is widely recognised as the single most important management factor in determining


COLOSTRUM MANAGEMENT health and survival of the neonatal calf, as well as reducing the risk for pre-weaning morbidity and mortality. Colostrum provides immunoglobulins that provide the immunity the calf requires to fight disease in the first couple of months of life. Farms where calves fail to consume sufficient colostrum will often experience problems with diseases such as pneumonia and scours. Current work within the UK suggests that over 50% of calves born do not receive sufficient colostrum and that frequently even animals that have been seen to nurse by themselves will not receive enough. A simple blood test in the first week of life will be able to tell you whether your calves are receiving sufficient colostrum – for further information speak to your veterinary surgeon. Calves must consume enough colostrum to provide all the immunoglobulins they require for a good level of immunity; the exact amount of colostrum they require will depend on the quality, the time after birth when colostrum is fed is critical to ensuring a calf receives adequate immunoglobulins. A calf’s ability to absorb immunoglobulins is greatest immediately after birth. Changes in the cells within the calf’s intestine mean that by 24 hours of age the animal is no longer able to absorb the immunoglobulins from the colostrum. As a rough rule aim to ensure every calf receives 3 litres of good quality colostrum within the first 2 hours of life followed by another similar size feed within 12 hours. Since colostrum is so important, you should make provision to have a source of colostrum available if a cow doesn’t


BVetMed PhD MRCVS Senior Clinical Director

provide enough high-quality colostrum. Colostrum can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to a year. Colostrum for storage should only be taken from healthy animals of known disease status. Colostrum should be stored in clean containers labelled with the date and the cow ID. Frozen colostrum should be thawed gently to prevent damage to the immunoglobulins. Colostrum replacer products may offer you a convenient way to provide adequate passive immunity to calves and their use is certainly recommended in situations where enough clean, high quality colostrum is not available; however care must be taken to select the correct product. Colostrum replacers should contain a minimum of 100 grams of immunoglobulin per dose and need to provide a source of protein, energy, vitamins and minerals. Good management around calving is essential for the productivity of any cattle enterprise, as problems at this stage can have severe economic and welfare implications.

If you would like to discuss anything covered in this article please contact your local Westpoint practice. Westpoint Farm Vets are part of VetPartners


Westpoint Horsham Westpoint Ashford T: 01306 628086 T: 01306 628208 E: info@westpointfarmvets.co.uk www.westpointfarmvets.co.uk > Colostrometer



Westpoint Sevenoaks T: 01959 564383


The rivers across farmland have started to dry and land work has begun in earnest. Having walked around quite a few fields last week, it would appear that the crops have fared much better than I would have expected bearing in mind the unprecedented amount of rainfall through the winter months. The clocks have changed and that only means one thing – summer is on its way. Hoorah – warmer weather will be more than welcome and I shall take severe action if anyone dares to say: “It’s too hot”. The crop that appears to have done rather well with all the rain is the Triticali; let’s hope it yields as well. With the final details regarding Brexit underway, the straw market has begun to pick up. Prices are nowhere near where they were last year, but are increasing day by day. The hay market seems to be moving, albeit slowly. Rumours are circulating that straw could be in short supply later in the year. The grass has started to grow and silaging will soon be here. Wrap has been delivered; the only missing ingredients is the sun. Let’s hope it graces us with its presence soon. Covid-19 seems to be a challenging virus that would appear to affect us all in one form or another. So many rumors are flying around, and if the truth be known no-one has an answer. Ski resorts are closed and countries are on “lock down”. In Italy all non-essential businesses have been forced to shut. The virus appears to be spreading rather rapidly and no end is in sight. As I sit to write this article, the children have had both school trips cancelled and no country seems to be unaffected apart from the Seychelles… a nice dream perhaps. Unfortunately, a late-night lambing duty looms ahead. The situation changes day by day and I would imagine that by the time you read this the country may well be on “lock down”. Schools may well have closed early for the Easter break. I came across an article written in Australia by a scientist entitled vegans face a moral dilemma. In their efforts to protect animal welfare, do vegans

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WITH ALL THE RAIN run the risk of damaging the planet? He reckons that someone getting their essential minimum amino acid requirements from plant-based foods excretes more climate-damaging materials than the same person getting them from animal products. Avoiding animal protein means excreting 32g/ day more nitrous oxide than people on omnivorous diets. Soya beans are the only staple crop also considered a protein crop. They are approximately 36% protein when dry and after being soaked overnight and cooked for a couple of hours the protein drops to just 17%. Using animals to improve the efficiency of a plant-led food economy by improving nutritional effectiveness and reducing waste is a very sustainable compromise. The article was certainly food for thought. Having started to complete our milk buyer’s comprehensive form on our carbon footprint/ climate check, I am beginning to lose the will to carry on. Climate change is top of the agenda and in the UK we have reduced emissions per kilo of milk by 24% to an average emission intensity of 1.15kg of co2 per kilo of milk, which is half of the global average. We are supposed to be carbon net zero by 2050. I understand that farming has to be sustainable to maintain “business competitiveness”. We have been reducing our carbon footprint since 1990 at 1% per annum but this now has to accelerate to 3% per annum or we won’t hit that target of being carbon neutral by 2050. Grumpy seems to think that he won’t be around to witness this. I on the other hand hope that he is still with us. In the UK we have approximately 1½ million

cows, while in India they have around 186 million. I question whether Indian farmers have to fulfil these stringent deadlines for being carbon neutral. If global warming is man-made and if cows contribute to global warming, could someone please inform me how much of a reduction our small percentage of the cow population will make to global warming? Unfortunately, failure to complete the form will have a financial impact (a reduction in the milk price) and ultimately our buyer could refuse to collect the milk. After much deliberation we have decided to pass it on to the next generation to finish. It must count towards some sort of a degree? The youth are more au fait with all the political paperwork that needs to be filled out. Grumpy definitely has become a very grumpy dinosaur over it all. I am sure that many years ago, when cattle passports became the law, there were many older farmers who struggled to come to terms with the fact that they were being dictated to by the government. The only difference now is the parameters have changed rather dramatically. Agriculture, or dairy farming in particular, is one of the only businesses that has its input and output prices mandated. With the BPS on the decline, farmers will have to fulfil the strict criteria to achieve these extra payments, which will mean jumping through lots more paperwork trails in the future. I wish everyone a happy and successful Easter.






We’ve already got a lot of abbreviations in farming. There’s BPS, NVZ, GMs, SSSIs, AONBs and the RPA, just for starters. We’ll need to get used to a new one, though – BNG. It stands for Biodiversity Net Gain and it might just prove to be one of the most important concepts some farmers can be involved with over the coming years. DEFRA (yet another acronym) has defined it as ‘an approach to development which aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than beforehand’. Basically, BNG – which is soon likely to be enshrined in law – will mean that a developer will have a legal obligation to provide a minimum of a 10% biodiversity net gain when undertaking a project. They’ll have to submit plans for how they intend to do this with their planning application and if these don’t stack up, the authorities will give the proposal the thumbs-down. On a national scale, the pursuit of BNG will facilitate joined-up conservation efforts, provide greater clarity and transparency around ecological expectations and mitigation, plus bring wider social and economic benefits. It’s all part of the drive to restore and enhance ‘natural capital’, the suite of ‘public goods’ (which, along with biodiversity, includes clean water, fresh air and public access) that the government has placed at the centre of its new strategy for land use. For farmers and landowners, especially in the South East where development for housing, industry and other infrastructure projects is set to continue apace, BNG presents a huge potential opportunity, as the net gain needn’t necessarily be provided on the site of the development. In other words, developers will be looking to enter into agreements with farmers to provide this BNG for them. This brings the possibility of a potential whole new market in delivering ‘offsite’ habitat creation – one that could be essential to farms and estates as BPS payments plummet. DEFRA, meanwhile, has been developing a process for allowing a pre-development and post-development biodiversity value of a site to be


FARMERS LEARN TO LOVE calculated, allowing the difference in ‘units’ to be measured. Its Biodiversity Metric 2.0, which is still a work in progress, is a (supposedly simple) tool, allowing such calculations to be made at scales ranging from individual streets and fields to whole catchments. There are still many unanswered questions about this metric. What is clear, though, is that when it comes to understanding the baseline and taking measurements, the farming industry will increasingly look to environmentalists for support in marshalling its case. They’ll increasingly be required to work with a – forgive my use of another acronym – SQE (Suitably Qualified Ecologist) in this respect. There are also questions about the payments that might result. Would any such compensation be paid as a lump sum or as annual payment? How will it be treated for tax? The industry is also only now beginning to drill down into what clauses might be needed in the legal agreements covering ‘mitigation sites’ – maintenance obligations, for example, if the land changes hands. Another critical question, of course, is what revenue will providing BNG actually generate for farmers and landowners. This is a new, emerging market so the figures are yet to crystallise, but one thing’s for sure – as BPS payments dwindle and disappear, it could prove to be the single most important replacement source of revenue for some. The big housebuilding firms might have landbanked many acres in the South East, but this is specifically to construct houses on – it’s less likely that they will have acquired or even scoped out ground on which to provide the necessary environmental net gain. Developers might be able to avoid biodiversity harm altogether on some projects or indeed be able to ‘mitigate and enhance’ on the actual site, but

where they’ve already acquired land, they may well want to squeeze as many homes on it as possible, rendering the provision of the 10% biodiversity net gain difficult. Inevitable, then, that they’ll look around in the locality (and even potentially further afield), opening the door to farmers to provide this offsite mitigation. Not only do farmers have the fundamental asset required as the starting point – the land – but they also have experience of fostering biodiversity. So what should farmers and landowners be doing at this stage? Cultivating contacts with developers wouldn’t be a bad move. An even more practical starting point might be understanding which fields or parts of fields are suited to such habitat creation, focusing first on less productive agricultural land. This will be useful whether providing offsite mitigation for someone else or if they ever need to provide BNG for a development project of their own. It’s also worth trying to wrap your head around your land’s baseline biodiversity – something we’re already helping some clients do. Yes, there will hopefully be cash available via the much-anticipated Environmental Land Management Scheme to replace some – potentially even all – of the shortfall left by the phasing out of support payment for direct production but for many, BNG could be a new income stream – one that might well make the difference between profit and loss. As abbreviations go, the shift from BPS to BNG isn’t massive – but the practical and financial implications could be huge.

ANTHONY WESTON Director, CLM T: 01892 770339 twitter @anthonycweston www.c-l-m.co.uk

• Basic Payment Scheme • Farm and Estate Management • Farm Business Consultancy • Rent Reviews • Countryside Stewardship • Ecological Surveys

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The Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales (sometimes referred to as PINS) is an executive agency of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government of the United Kingdom Government. One of the Planning Inspectorate’s main roles is to determine planning appeals, mostly against local planning authorities refusal to grant planning permission. The 2012 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) unleashed a new wave of housebuilding on unallocated sites, but recent research reveals that the tide may now be turning. The phrase ‘tilted balance’ used to strike fear into local authorities. It describes the impact of the 2012 NPPF’s presumption in favour of sustainable development. In the absence of relevant up-to-date local plan policies, the presumption tilts the balance of a planning decision making process in favour of permission, except where the benefits are ‘significantly and demonstrably’ outweighed by the adverse impacts or where specific policies in the NPPF indicate otherwise. After the NPPF’s introduction, the tilted balance frequently triggered the presumption in planning appeals against refusal of applications for housing on “unplanned sites”, that is sites unallocated in the local plan. In cases where the council was not able to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land,

this frequently meant that planning appeals would be allowed. The ability to bring through major housing schemes on appeal has helped to deliver higher housebuilding rates. The big upswing in housing completions over the past two years can in large part be attributed to the increased number of planning permissions that were granted under the presumption in favour of sustainable development under the 2012 NPPF. With many local plans stuck in the long grass or with unrealistic strategies, planning by appeal can be an essential release valve to bring forward new housing. But the days of the tilted balance leading to regular success for such appeals may be gone, with the proportion of appeals being allowed on unallocated greenfield sites dropping over the past four years. In 2014, 43% of major residential appeals (i.e. more than 10 homes) were allowed, but in 2019 this figure decreased to 32%. There has been a trend whereby inspector decisions are hinging on issues such as landscape impact which often ‘re-tilts’ the balance away from developers, even where there is no five-year housing land supply. Looking at the impact on the size of appeal proposals, the proportion of appeals for 400 homes or more on unallocated greenfield sites that were allowed stood at 46% in 2016. This figure increased to 75% in 2017, but then no such appeals were allowed in 2018 and only one was allowed in 2019.

The figures show a similar pattern for schemes of 200 homes or more. Some 23 such schemes were allowed in 2016, falling to 16 in 2017, seven in 2018 and just six during 2019. There is a view is that the appeals process has become more challenging as the result of a political reaction to what was perceived as the NPPF making appeals too easy for developers. However, the increase in the proportion of councils that have adopted local plans is also a contributing factor. Many commentators also think that the presumption in favour now carries less force with planning inspectors than it once did when applying the planning balance, with qualitative factors such as landscape impact seeming to carry more weight.


With appeal success rates falling, there is a heightened need to devise the correct strategy and partner for the promotion of land. This may involve a longer term strategy via an emerging local plan or devising an enhanced benefits and landscape mitigation package to help tip the balance. As a specialist land promoter Catesby Estates continues to successfully secure residential planning permissions across the country. We have wide experience across the UK and can advise on the optimum strategy for individual local authorities.

Could your land have development potential? Find out more about land promotion


Associate Director, Planning, Catesby Estates plc T: 01926 836910 E: edb@catesbyestates.co.uk W: www.catesbyestates.co.uk

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Land & Property Experts


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An opportunity to purchase a working small holding Farmhouse, agricultural buildings with planning A whole or in 5 separate lots - approx 90 acres

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HAVE YOUR SAY ON ELMS With Britain no longer a part of the EU, the UK Government has begun to outline its plans to move on from what it calls the “deeply flawed” Common Agricultural Policy, writes Matthew Sawdon, director, Hobbs Parker Property Consultants. As part of a pledge to bring in new measures “targeted at enhancing our environment, protecting our countryside and conserving our livestock”, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has opened a public consultation on the proposed new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS). ELMS will be DEFRA’s cornerstone agricultural policy, paying farmers and other land managers for taking a range of different actions to protect and improve the natural environment. The core concept of ELMS is paying farmers “public money” to deliver environmental “public goods”.


Aimed at individual farmers and landowners, the entry tier would incentivise environmentally sustainable farming and forestry methods, similar to the existing Mid Tier scheme. Activities that could be supported by these payments include the efficient use and storage of water, field margins, cover crops, limiting livestock grazing to avoid soil compaction, and other soil, pest and nutrient management measures. Options could be tailored to specific farm types, i.e. arable, livestock or dairy, or there could be a menu of options to allow applicants to choose what to deliver. The second and third tiers are labelled in the consultation document as being relevant to broader land management activities, rather than agriculture itself, and would encourage collaboration between farmers and land managers. Tier 2 activities would focus on the need in a particular area, such as the planting of trees, shrubs or hedges, and measures to mitigate flooding as well as protecting species rich habitats, in addition to activities such as maintaining rights of way or creating “education infrastructure”. This tier would be similar to

The announcement that the crop diversification requirements known as the ‘three crop rule’ will be relaxed for 2020 will be welcome news for farmers affected by flooding, says Stuart Nicholls, food and farming consultant at Savills. The fifth wettest autumn on record, closely followed by storms Ciara and Dennis, saturated fields and prevented farmers from completing their winter cereal drilling. Savills rural research team’s spring planting intentions survey conducted in February, found that 15% of the participating farmers had not been able to drill any winter cereals at all. The majority had sown some winter cereals but on average had been unable to sow 46% of the winter cereals that they had planned. The agricultural and horticultural development board’s (AHDB) Early Bird Survey predicts that even when spring wheat is included, the wheat area harvested in 2020 will be just 1.5 million hectares which is 17% lower than last year. “These figures clearly illustrate the impact of a risk which agriculture has always faced, although it may be getting worse due to climate change,” says Stuart. “A trend towards drilling winter cereals later

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the existing Higher Tier scheme. Tier 3 is likely to be the most complex, with an emphasis on delivering national landscape land-use change. Payments could be accessed by creating, restoring or improving environments such as peatland, forests, woodland, wetlands and salt marsh. There are a number of areas of uncertainty across all three tiers and the scheme itself, such as assessment criteria and the length of individual ELMS agreements. For farmers in particular, it remains to be seen whether they might be told which specific Tier 1 activities they must undertake to receive payments, or whether they will have some choice. DEFRA promises that when implementing the scheme, it will “give farmers clear guidance on what they need to do in order to deliver environmental outcomes while keeping their financial and delivery risks low”. It also says it wants to avoid being inflexible or overly prescriptive. That sounds good in principle, if DEFRA can pull it off. Nonetheless, by 2028, when the phasing out of the Basic Payments Scheme is complete, ELMS will be the main source of alternative funding and current indications are that payments will be significantly reduced. The drastically changing funding landscape, the likelihood of increasing levels of scrutiny around the environmental impact of agriculture, and other factors including changes to migration policy all add up to a complex picture for farmers. Those who aren’t already reassessing how to make a living from their land would be wise to start. The ELMS consultation runs until 5 May.


Director, Hobbs Parker Property Consultants T: 01233 506201 E: matthew.sawdon@hobbsparker.co.uk www.hobbsparker.co.uk

FARMERS’ RISK AND REWARD? has arguably increased farmers exposure to risk and the impact this season continues to have on their businesses.” Compared to ten years ago, 62% of the farmers are drilling their winter cereals later, whilst 28% have not changed their planned drilling dates. All of those who were drilling later said the change was part of a strategy to help control blackgrass, a trend which has been seen across the industry as the effectiveness of chemical control has declined. The last six months highlight the incompatibility between the delayed drilling blackgrass control strategy and predictions that due to climate change the UK will have wetter winters and experience more extreme conditions. For some, switching to a direct drilling system which is more weatherproof could allow later crop establishment and reduce the risk of ground conditions preventing progress. However this system is currently dependent upon the continued availability of the herbicide glyphosate which had a challenging licence renewal process last time around.

While opinions were divided over whether the season has been a consequence of a more variable climate or can be considered a one off, 41% of the farmers who participated in our survey are planning to make changes to their cropping, rotation or machinery to improve the resilience of their farm business to the impact of wet weather. Looking at the bigger picture, farmers’ exposure to risk within agriculture is changing. As the Government phases out direct payments over the agricultural transition period, the financial safety net or cushion which many businesses rely upon will be eroded. As direct payments reduce and farmers’ margins tighten, their vulnerability to risk will increase and this comes at a time when the importance of resilient domestic food supply is front and centre of consumers’ and policymakers’ minds. It remains to be seen whether the impact of coronavirus on food service and retailers becomes a temporary or permanent influence on farmers’ relationships with their supply chains.




Kent | Crockham Hill Guide Price ÂŁ885,000 An attractive piece of mixed farmland and woods Arable land, permanent pasture and woodland Split into two parcels | Access off Dairy Lane About 111 acres (45 hectares) For sale as a whole or in two lots Will Whittaker | 020 7318 5166 will.whittaker@struttandparker.com Edward Seymour | 01273 407 020 edward.seymour@struttandparker.com




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A new dawn in the UK’s approach to land management with clear opportunities for farmers and land managers. Natural capital is gaining increasing traction as a theory and a practice influencing how land is managed in the UK. According to the ONS the asset value of the UK’s natural capital is estimated to be nearing £1 trillion. Our recently published Spotlight on Natural Capital focuses on some key areas where natural capital thinking is creating new income streams. It also looks ahead to emerging markets for ecosystem services at a time when political urgency around the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss has led to growing concern over environmental stewardship. For farmers and land managers, one of the obvious opportunities will come through the government backed and private sector negotiated agreements to improve and preserve the environment as well as ecosystem services. Payments are likely to be available for improved air, water, rich habitat biodiversity and soil quality, carbon sequestration, public access to the countryside, measures to reduce flooding and off setting agreements to counter pollution.


Another significant opportunity could arise through the concept of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG). Mandated as a condition of planning permission through the 2019 Environment Bill, BNG is a principle requiring a 10% increase in biodiversity after development, compared to the level of biodiversity prior to the development taking place. Now that the National Planning Policy Framework includes compulsory BNG, it offers significant new income streams for landowners and managers.


Associate, Savills Food & Farming T: 07786 944666 savills.co.uk E: snicholls@savills.com

TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883

We have modelled the process of achieving BNG across the proposed Oxford Cambridge arc development of one million new homes. The model estimated the costs and land requirements of delivering BNG. If BNG was not mandatory, 35,000 hectares of agricultural land could be required for the proposed one million home development. This is around 3% of the existing rural area in the arc. To implement a 10% biodiversity gain across the Ox-Cam housing development arc, at least 280,000 biodiversity units would be required, calculated using DEFRA’s estimation of 7.47 biodiversity units lost per hectare of residential development on greenfield sites (although some academics consider this factor too high). We then accounted for a 10% uplift in the pre-development baseline biodiversity score. We assumed that for the entire new development all existing biodiversity units would be lost and replaced via BNG measures. If all 280,000 units were created off site, we estimate (drawing on DEFRA data and guidance) that around 68,000 hectares would be needed for off setting. Combining land needed for development, with land needed for off site creation, this increases land use from 3% of the arc to 10% of the existing rural area in the arc. DEFRA expects BNG to lead to the creation of thousands of hectares of habitats for wildlife each year, which could represent annual natural capital benefits in the region of £1.4 billion. There are of course still some uncertainties such as where advice for habitat enhancement will come from, how projects will be accredited and monitored, or how off set compensation will be paid. However it does pose a significant opportunity to landowners and managers, particularly those on the periphery of new developments.


Consultant, Savills Food & Farming T: 07870 186500 savills.co.uk E: James.mcfarlane@savills.com




NORTH DOWNS SMALLHOLDING WITH PLANNING BTF Partnership is offering for sale a rare opportunity to buy a working small holding in a spectacular rural location with elevated views over the North Downs near the village of Stansted, seven miles from Sevenoaks. The property includes a farmhouse (subject to AOC), outbuildings with residential consents and land extending to approximately 90 acres. Stansted Lodge Farm is located in the North Downs and is for sale as a whole or in five separate lots with an overall guide price of £1,675,000. The lots being offered for sale are as follows: • Lot 1 – A detached five-bedroom farmhouse subject to an Agricultural Occupancy Condition, and in need of modernisation along with Grade III agricultural land and woodland extending to approximately 30.63 acres – Guide Price £595,000. • Lot 2 – Agricultural buildings, yard and land extending to 3.69 acres. Some of the buildings have planning permission for two three bedroom semi-detached properties and one four bedroom detached property under the


Planning Reference TM/19/02607/FL – Guide Price £595,000 • Lot 3 – A parcel of Grade III agricultural land with far reaching views to the north extending to approximately 7.6 acres – Guide Price £125,000. • Lot 4 – A parcel of Grade III agricultural land with sloped banks and woodland extending to approximately 7.44 acres – Guide Price £125,000. • Lot 5 – Grade III agricultural land and woodland through a valley with road frontage extending to approximately 40.93 acres – Guide Price £235,000. Alex Cornwallis at BTF Partnership said: “This is a very interesting opportunity in a rural setting, but which is also close to excellent road and rail links to Sevenoaks, Central London and beyond. I can see this will be of interest for a number of different buyers as it has a number of different possibilities for future use. This is the first time to the market for

CONSTRUCTION formabuild.co.uk

GUIDE PRICE OF £1,675,000

 Office 01273 492404  info@formabuild.co.uk  www.formabuild.co.uk


a significant period of time as the farm has been in the vendor’s family for over 50 years. It is likely the farm will be sold in Lots, but it certainly provides an opportunity for an incomer to purchase a working small holding in an incredibly sought-after location.” Adjacent to lots 4 and 5 is a period residential farmhouse and approximately 4.19 acres. This property is in a different ownership but is also for sale through BTF Partnership.



Based in Lewes, East Sussex

AGRICULTURAL, EQUESTRIAN & INDUSTRIAL STEEL FRAMED BUILDINGS We supply CONCRETE PANELS – Any size to suit your needs All our buildings are

Forma offer a competitive and reliable service. We have over 30 years experience in the construction sector and the family have been Sussex builders since at least 1605! 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, Forma cover the South East and offer a range of services including steel framed buildings, groundwork, steel / fibre cement / timber cladding, concrete panels, roller shutters and sectional insulated doors, asbestos removal, gutter and drainage work and general farm building maintenance.


British designed & built

TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883

Email or telephone with your enquiry and if required we can FaceTime to discuss the project


“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.

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

Gary White 07812 599679 Jason White 07941 274751 WWW.SOUTHEASTFARMER.NET | APRIL 2020



Industrial & Commercial | Structural Steelwork | Agricultural & Equestrian



Shufflebottom Agricultural Buildings Steel-frame buildings for your farm + Supply only or supply & erect + Construction all over the UK + Award winning company

• • • • • • •


Steel frame buildings Sheeting and cladding Guttering and repairs Groundworks and drainage Demolition and asbestos removal Refurbishment and change of use Concrete frame and steel frame repairs • Insurance and general repairs • Concrete floor and block paving

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

ENWARD 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, equestrian & light equestrian & light • In house fabrication industrial buildings industrial buildings •• In Planning services house fabrication • In house fabrication available • Planning services • Planning services available

available01323 848684 lanesbuildings@btconnect.com

lanesconstruction.co.uk lanesconstruction.co.uk

lanesbuildings@btconnect.com lanesbuildings@btconnect.com

01323 848684 01323 848684


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



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 roads, drainage, sewage treatment plants, rainwater harvesting, biobed wash downs, paving, concrete foundations / slabs, walling and site landscaping.

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



CS982 SE Farmer Advert 60mm x 93.qxd:Layout 1


rn & s he s nt ut er AK ou So rm S isc Fa AM r d R e b em M

A one-stop-shop for all Profiled Roofing Products:  BIGG ES T RA NGE IN THE SOUTH EAS T  PROMPT AND RELIABLE SERVICE  HUGE STOCKS

Call: 01342 337159 www.southernsheeting.co.uk

Hill Place Farm, Turners Hill Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 4LX




Including: • Listed buildings requiring specialist trades • Commercial fit outs including partitioning, data cabling and interior design.

General building including: • All planning permissions • Architectural services for new build or extensions/ conversions/ renovations.

Covering the whole of the South East. For more information please contact us.


Bespoke options include:

Side extensions • Steel housing Office blocks • Asbestos removal All groundworks undertaken marked

Grain stores • Cattle buildings • Dairy units Change of use and refurbishment of existing buildings

FARM BUILDING REPAIRS 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.


REFURBS, BIG 6 ROOF SHEETS, ROOF LIGHTS, RIDGES, VERGES, VALLEY GUTTERS, BOX GUTTERS, BOUNDARY GUTTERS, ASBESTOS, SHEETING Single Sheet To Whole Roof Roller Shutters Accidental or Storm Damage Works Demolition Refurbishments Waste Clearances



The Stables, Goblands Farm Business Centre, Cemetery Lane, Hadlow, Kent TN11 0LT

 01732 668802  07702 135131

Ideal for offices, holiday lets, and dwellings. Quick to erect.

E: camilesconstruction@hotmail.co.uk

All frames are

Offering a full spectrum of building services specialising in barn conversions

Email for prices

TEL: 07813 910975 01233 750123

 info@fscs-construction.co.uk  www.fscs-construction.co.uk

Professional Services to the Agricultural, Industrial & Equestrian Sectors


FREEPHONE: 01233 659129

from BT land-line

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


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






Supply and erecting of

Steel framed buildingS

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.

Contact Arthur on 07860 193716 Mark on 07771 516716 Tel/Fax: 01227 831658 ardfs@vfast.co.uk




Est 1986



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

● ● ● ● ● ● ●





Email: info@brownsdrainage.co.uk


Contact: Chris, for a no obligation quotation: Tel: 07813 142145 or 01233 659129 (7 days) www.jprmaintenance-construction.co.uk


Penfold Profiles

FULL LAND DRAINAGE SERVICE sportsfields, amenity and irrigation systems using Mastenbroek trenchers

Asbestos removal Sheeting Guttering

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

ENVIRONMENTAL HABITATS water course maintenance and improvement works

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







Specialists in agricultural and industrial buildings ASBESTOS Survey Removal Disposal

GUTTERS Aluminium liners PVC liners Accessories

SHEETING Complete buildings New roof system for conversions Repairs – Rooflights

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

Penfold Profiles. Lees Paddock, High Halden, Ashford, Kent APRIL 2020 | WWW.SOUTHEASTFARMER.NET

To advertise in South East Farmer telephone 01303 233883


Competitive Direct Drilling Service Using our proven Simtech Aitchison direct drill we seed into all surfaces - grasses, clovers, brassicas, cereals, pulses, maize and all mixtures. The unique T-slot boot allows a perfect environment for the seeds to germinate, along its 2.7 sowing width with 18 rows. This method saves time and money compared with more traditional re-seeding methods, but is also capable of stitching and rejuvenating existing crops.

Town Place Farm, Haywards Heath Tel: 01825 790341 Mob: 07970 621832 Email: Charlie@townplacefarm.co.uk



Grubbing, timber & groundwork services

Rentals and Developments Limited

• 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



BULK EARTHWORKS & PLANT HIRE Plant Hire Equipment Available:     

• Toilets & Showers for hire

John Deere Tractors from 100-250hp Excavators from 8-35 tonne Bulldozers D4, D5, D6 Loading shovels Telehandlers

• Large range of Temporary canteens, stores & welfare units • Effluent Tank Emptying

Covering the South East OD & PARTNERS

• Events also catered for with marquees & toilets



john@mainland-rentals.co.uk LAND DRAINAGE

VEYINGToadvertise in South East Farmer FIELD MAPPING telephone 01303 233883  DRAINAGE SURVEYING




 

Tel: 01622 843135 Fax: 01622 844410 enquiries@fourjays.co.uk www.fourjays.co.uk










FENCING Manufacturers of Chestnut Fencing Products Hardwood gates Cleft post and rail Stakes and posts Chestnut fencing

CWP fenci f n ng

Tel: 07985298221 www.cwpfencing.co.uk

HAULIERS 07860 728204 Hay & Straw Merchant | Machinery Haulage


oodfarms.com PHONE: 01795 880441







Why dig when we can trench it?

SWEET HOME HINTON AMPNER Farmer and journalist Charlie Flindt’s diary from 2015 – warts ‘n’ all!

Trencher with operator for installing: • Irrigation and water pipes • Utility cables and ducting • Repairs to water pipes • Impact moling

Enquiries FieldWaterInstallations@gmail.com

Available for only £11.99

Est 1993

from eBay, Amazon and all good bookshops

To advertise in South East Farmer telephone 01303 233883


HAY & STRAW Quality Organic Lucerne Haylage

• Fully Stocked Mobile Engineers with Full Manufacturer Training • The whole of the South East covered

Medium Quality £60/t High Quality £70/t Extremely Palatable

All Nutritional demands suited

High and Low Protein bales

Dry Cows/Milkers Stores/Fattening Sheep/Equine

High Fibre

• Over 45 years trading

Tel: 0800 212 328 www.pressureclean.co.uk


Discount available

Petersfield – Hampshire manorfarm@bateandson.co.uk – Tom 07919 408723

To advertise in South East Farmer telephone 01303 233883






Nutritonally Tested

• Sales, Service & Hire of Quality Karcher Cleaning Equipment including: Pressure Washers, Dry Steamers, Sweepers, Vacuum Cleaners & Scrubber Driers



Low quality £50/t

01580 891728 or 07768 626131 www.fwi-trenching.co.uk


Sectional doors • Roller Shutter doors • High speed doors Loading bay equipment • Personnel and Fire doors

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 Culnells Farm, School Lane, Iwade, Sittingbourne, Kent ME9 8QJ Fax: 01634 360955 Mobile: 07973 299664 Email: sales@yiannisdoors.co.uk

Tel: 01634 378523



All suitable for fuel, water and effluent Call today for details

Tel 01638 712328




COMPLETE OUR CROSSWORD TO WIN Three bottles of Dry, three bottles of Medium and two bottles of Sweet Strong Kentish Cider










9 10


12 13 14












Crossword by Rebecca Farmer, Broadstairs, Kent

PRIZE ANAGRAM: Feed wheat (8)

To enter, simply unscramble the anagram (8) using the green squares. Email your replies with your name, address and phone number to

Gathered (9) Skilled and proficient (5) Barley disease (5,4) London ----- Tree (5) ---- of the d’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy novel (4) Criminal act (7) -------- ------ four, novel by George Orwell (8,6) Supposed (7) Loitre in a bored manner (5) Teach (7) Potato (slang) (4) A material formed from compacted fragments (9) Gather or acquire (10) Black ---- Beans (4)

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

Tendancy that is difficult to stop (5) Parts of a plant (5) Not silver (abbv) (4) Fungus (7) Reach inside (5) Flag (7) On one occasion (4) Disease causing micro-organism (4) Longing for the past (9) Metal (4) Employ; Utilise; Operate (3) A joint in two pieces of wood; A tall headdress (5) Plant used in beer making (3) Images that occur during sleep (5) Move on hands and knees (5) Digging tool (5) King -----, potato (6)



1 5 8 9 11 12 14 16 18 20 23 25 26 27






To make self-isolation a little easier we are offering readers the chance to win three bottles of Dry, three bottles of Medium and two bottles


For more information about the

Correct entries will be entered into a

vineyards, please visit www.biddendenvineyards.com or

22 April. The winner will be

call 01580 291726.

announced in the May edition.

*Subject to availability






I 11

of Sweet Strong Kentish Cider.

TO ADVERTISE CALL 01303 233883




draw which will take place on















O 16
























L 18





























E 15











W 26





N 20








F 12





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LAST MONTH’S WINNER: Ash Wright from Shefford Woodlands, Berkshire Correct answer: Cotswold


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