- The arable sector has challenging times ahead, but the resounding message from CropTec’s 10th anniversary show was that there are numerous opportunities for farmers to improve efficiencies and embrace new markets
The event, held at East of England Arena in Peterborough, brought together forward-thinking growers, agronomists, advisors and technical experts over two days for seminars, discussion and networking across three busy exhibition halls.
Harvest 2022 had generally been favourable with strong prices offsetting rising input prices, but next year will be “a very different story” said Harry Henderson of AHDB who spoke in the opening seminar. AHDB also sponsored the Food & Environment via IPM hub.
“The increased input prices will come home to roost with the crops in the ground this autumn and next spring,” he said. Net margins would be considerably lower, and losses were expected for spring barley and oilseed rape crops.
Reducing and making best use of inputs need to be central to plans going forward. “One thing is clear, we need to retain more inputs on the farm and not lose them through leaching and erosion,” said George Cook, Senior Farm Business Consultant with Andersons.
With growers coming under increasing regulatory pressure, strategies to tackle the disease burden and help farmers better target their chemical inputs came under the spotlight in a BASF-sponsored seminar.
Use of technology in controlling fertiliser costs was discussed at the debate sponsored by Yara. Mark Tucker, Marketing and Agronomy Manager for Yara Europe said: “For us, crop nutrition is the number one issue on advisors’ minds, especially nitrogen as it is a big driver of yield and therefore profitability.”
Reducing tillage and inputs, introducing cover and companion cropping and an all-round focus on soil health had helped Ed Reynolds reduce operating costs on his Cambridgeshire farm from £715/ha to £494/ha.
“Carbon credits are definitely a hot topic at the moment and farmers have lots of questions about how it could work for them and their farming situation so we encourage them to come and talk to us in detail,” said Thomas Gent of Agreena, which sponsored the ‘Maximising natural capital’ seminar.
Future use, quality and quantity of water were under scrutiny at Anglian Water’s hub. Richard Reynolds, Senior Agronomy Advisor said the hub had been a great way to engage with farmers and growers. “Our team have been having meaningful conversations around how water will impact farming businesses over the next five years.”
Max Dafforn, Digital Activation Manager for Climate FieldView said the conversation at its digital hub centred around how growers can use data to support better decision making. “CropTec is the obvious choice for a technical event. When you look at precision technology, this is the best place to showcase what we do and how that can deliver benefits for farmers.”
Similarly, Trinity AgTech’s hub was host to discussions over natural capital opportunities. “Natural capital is a fast-evolving space,” said Anna Woodley. “We’ve been having some great conversations with people from all over the country.”
As always, CPD points for both NRoSO and BASIS members were on offer to visitors with more exhibitors taking part on the BASIS Knowledge Trail than ever before. The Training Zone, sponsored by BASIS, was also a popular feature with many visitors taking time to hear success stories and learn about the opportunities for professional development.
Jade Prince, Business Development Manager for BASIS said: “It has been important for BASIS to be here to communicate with members face-to-face, which we have not been able to do much since Covid. It’s also beneficial for us to keep updated with developments within the industry.”
The organisers of CropTec were delighted with the success of the event. “It was fantastic to welcome so many visitors to our 10th CropTec Show,” said Gareth Jones, Event Manager. “We know there are more challenges to come for the arable sector, but it was encouraging to hear the optimism throughout discussions at the show. Plans are already underway for next year’s event, and we look forward to our return to Peterborough in November 2023.”