Prepare for lower farm incomes, warns Old Mill

Farm incomes could face a sharp drop this autumn due to the summer drought, so it’s important for farmers to plan ahead to minimise the financial and physical impact.
 
There is plenty that producers can do to prepare, according to rural accountant Old Mill, from raising an overdraft to pay for forage to reducing tax payments on account. “It is a very frustrating and demoralising time for both livestock and arable producers,” says Mike Butler, chairman of the board at Old Mill.
 
“The drought means arable yields will be down, vegetable producers are looking at significant crop shortages, and livestock producers do not have enough forage to see them through the winter. This will have a dramatic impact on cash flow and profits.”
 
Higher commodity prices will go some way to alleviating this pressure, but the impact will vary from farm to farm. “Try to think about the implications of what’s going on, and have a serious conversation about what might be the right thing to do,” advises Mr Butler. “Have talks with your bank and accountant to see what the best solution is.”
 
Some farmers are already looking at culling up to half their herds to reduce forage requirements over the winter, while others may need to raise their overdraft to cover increased feed costs, he explains. “If selling stock, that will of course reduce your output, and may crystallise some profits. But cull cow and store values are already suffering, so you need to take that into account.”
 
If looking at alternative feeds, it’s important to consider the likely impact on productivity – but there may also be an upside. “When commodities are in short supply there is likely to be a dramatic rise in prices – if that does happen, make sure you’re in a position to take advantage of it.”
 
However, in the immediate future, it’s important to prepare for reduced incomes. “Are you getting the right tax credits? Could you reduce tax payments on account? Although July payments will already have been made, if you think income and therefore tax bills will be down you can choose to reduce your payments on account at any time.”
 
Cash flow planning will help to identify any pinch points, so you can act early to avoid them, adds Mr Butler. “The important thing is to understand the implications as they develop, and be proactive, rather than putting your head in the sand.”
 
 
 
For more information contact Mike Butler at Old Mill on 01749 335029.

 

2018 Pig & Poultry Fair: The best event yet

Feedback from a survey of visitors and exhibitors at the 2018 British Pig & Poultry Fair reveals that they considered it the best event yet.

Held in May at Stoneleigh Park, the Royal Agricultural Society of England’s event attracted over 370 exhibitors and 10,131 visitors, who attended to see what was new, gather advice and hear from the experts.

“The professional and business nature of the pig and poultry sectors was clearly apparent at the Fair,” says event organiser Alice Bell. “Our survey shows that producers found it an extremely valuable and worthwhile day away from the farm.” In total, 98% of visitors found what they were looking for at the Fair, with four out of five visitors planning to make changes to their business as a result of their visit.

Taking place every two years, the Fair is a great chance for producers to see what is new, with 69% of visitors saying they attend the Fair to see new products, while 68% planned to make a purchase as a result of their visit.

Exhibitors had raised the bar too for 2018, with a wide range of inviting and interesting stands offering the very latest innovations, advice and solutions. “The atmosphere at this year’s Fair was buoyant and business like,” says Ms Bell. “There were so many informed conversations going on, really cementing it as the place to do business.”

This is born out in the research, with 93% of producers rating their day at the Fair as valuable for their business, while 100% of exhibitors said they met most or all of their objectives of exhibiting at the Fair.

“The RASE would like to thank all the visitors and exhibitors who helped make the 2018 Fair such a success,” added Ms Bell. “We are already working on ideas and improvements to ensure the 2020 event, taking place Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th May, continues to deliver for the industry.”

Key summary statistics from the 2018 Fair research:

 Visitor survey findings:
(From 590 responses to a post event survey of Fair visitors):

  • 68% of visitors plan to make a purchase as a result of their visit to the Fair.
  • 80% of visitors plan to make changes to their business as a result of their visit to the Fair.
  • 98% of visitors found what they were looking for at the Fair
  • 93% of visitors rated the Fair as valuable for their business
  • 97% of visitors rated their visit to the Fair as good or excellent
  • 96% of visitors to the 2018 Fair plan to attend the 2020 Fair

Exhibitor survey findings
(From 135 responses to a post event survey of exhibitors):

  • 87% rated the Fair as very important or important for generating future orders for their company
  • 91% rated the Fair as very important or important for engaging with existing customers
  • 72% rated the Fair as an excellent or good return on investment
  • 100% of exhibitors met all or most of their objectives of exhibiting at the Fair
  • 99% saw the right visitors at the 2018 Fair
  • 95% of exhibitors found the organisation of the Fair excellent or good
  • 93% of exhibitors rated the 2018 Fair as excellent or good
  • 94% of exhibitors plan to exhibit at the 2020 Fair

Only RHS Garden Flower Show in the South West returns bigger and better

For three days, 17 – 19 August, RHS Garden Rosemoor in Torrington, Devon will host its second Garden Flower Show, sponsored by Atkins Ferrie Wealth Management. Following visitor feedback, this year the Rosemoor team have worked hard to bring you an even bigger and better show featuring increased flower power. Key changes include a new floral display trail, The British Flower Bus, flower arranging demonstrations, more stalls, more specialist talks and all within 65 acres of stunning grounds.

Rosemoor is located in a sheltered valley in Devon and unlike traditional temporary flower shows, it has permanent show and model gardens with amazing planting displays like its iconic Hot Garden and Long Borders, water features, and wonderful Fruit and Vegetable Gardens to provide inspiration for everyone no matter how large or small their garden is.

 Brand New for 2018

  •  Floral Display Trail. Some of North Devon’s finest flower clubs have designed flower displays in five of the garden shelters that all have a ‘Tales of Beatrix Potter’ theme.
  • Jonathan Moseley’s British Flower Bus will be at the show promoting British Flowers.
  • Flower Arranging Demonstrations. The five flower clubs as well as Jonathan Moseley will be giving up to four Flower Arranging Demonstrations each day of the show.
  • Food and drink to tempt you including a new banquet style food hall.
   credited: RHS Garden Rosemoor

credited: RHS Garden Rosemoor

Other Show Highlights

  • Increased number of nurseries and trade stands.
  • More talks from specialist nurseries as well as a ‘Question Time’ with Rosemoor’s garden team.
  • The Flower Show Breakfast, hosted by the Garden Curator and his team of gardeners. This very popular event is open to anyone, includes a delicious hot breakfast hosted by the Rosemoor Garden Team, gives guaranteed on-site parking, and exclusive early access to the show on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 August. Breakfast tickets need to be booked online in advance.
  • ·A number of other stands including RHS Advisory with Plant Finder, Devon Plant Heritage, Bicton College, The Animal & Plant Health agency and WFGA (providing information on working and retraining as a gardener) will also be at this year’s show.
  • Why not relax by the lake whilst listening to delightful music and sipping on a Pimms’ or Rosemoor’s very own Gin. There will be acoustic minstrels ambling through the showground as well.
  • The Rosemoor Plant Centre & Gift Shop will also be fully stocked with wonderful plants, gifts, toys, gardening tools and accessories or mementos of your visit.
  • Family friendly activities such as circus skills in one of the children’s play areas or you can follow the Jurassic Discovery Garden Trail… which may have a few (large) surprises along the way!
  • Free park and ride shuttle from two locations in Great Torrington: Torrington Rugby Club, EX38 7BT and South Street Car Park, EX38 8AE.

Rosemoor’s second Garden Flower Show sure promises to be a grand day out for everyone.

Normal garden admission applies, which is free for RHS Members. Please visit https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/rosemoor/RHS-Garden-Rosemoor-Flower-Show or call 01805 626810 for more details.

Forget the neighbour’s dogs and cats - some of the world’s most dangerous wild animals are living at private addresses in Cornwall

From deadly snakes and crocodiles, to lions, leopards, bears and even an elephant -  Born Free reveals that nearly 5,000 dangerous wild animals are being privately kept right here in Britain

A survey conducted by the Born Free Foundation has revealed that 4,798 dangerous wild animals are being privately kept in Great Britain – 60 of which are living in Cornwall. Now the international wildlife charity is petitioning the UK Government to immediately review the law, and put a stop to some of the world’s most remarkable but often deadly creatures being in kept in unsuitable environments.

Whilst an estimated 11 million people own a pet in the UK, Born Free’s research asked every local council across England, Scotland and Wales which dangerous wild animals are currently licenced to be kept in private hands. Cornwall Council revealed that among the 60 dangerous wild animals that reside in the area, there are at least:

5 ostriches
14 camels
31 cats including 6 Clouded Leopards, 4 Pumas, 3 Lynxes and 1 Ocelot
3 Malaysian Otters
4 primates among them Ring-tailed Lemurs and Black and White Ruffled Lemurs
3 Common European Vipers
Shockingly, the entire survey revealed that a total of 218 private addresses are hosting dangerous wild animals across Britain. These include:

At least 250 wild cats, such as servals and lynx and including 50 big cats - lions, tigers, leopards, pumas and cheetahs
Over 100 venomous lizards, such as Mexican beaded lizards and Gila monsters
At least 240 primates, particularly ring tailed lemurs and capuchins
Over 85 crocodilians, mostly caimans
At least 650 venomous snakes, including puff adders, black mambas and diamondback rattlesnakes
In Wales, there is an elephant licensed to be privately kept, and in England a giraffe, as well as 14 wolves, 3 bears, 13 leopards, 3 cheetahs, 9 lions and 9 tigers.  Other species being kept as pets or in private collections in the UK included zebras, camels, fossas, antelope, and otters.

Currently, under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976, anyone in Britain can keep a dangerous wild animal as long as they obtain a licence from their local authority. The licence application merely requires them to demonstrate that their animals are properly contained and not at risk of escape.

Born Free is calling for a review of the legislation covering the keeping of wild animals as pets, including the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, and calling for more restrictions on the ownership of dangerous wild animals. This includes the need for consideration of large constrictor snakes, which do not currently require a licence to be kept. Moreover, it is thought that many more wild animals are being kept unlicensed and illegally across the country.

Confining wild animals in domestic settings is not only cruel says Born Free, but can also pose a significant risk to human life.

Just last year a man in Hampshire was killed by his 8ft African rock python, Tiny. In a separate incident, Police found an illegally-kept 4ft caiman crocodile and 16 snakes at a property in Essex, nine of which were classed as dangerous. They included cobras and copperhead vipers. Seven other snakes were found dead in the house as a result of the poor conditions in which they had been kept.

Whilst the survey includes those establishments and companies that require a Dangerous Wild Animals licence to rescue animals, for animals such as wild boar and ostriches on farms, and those who use animals for TV and film, it is still understood that a large proportion of the dangerous wild animals are being kept as personal pets.

Dr Chris Draper, Head of Animal Welfare and Captivity for Born Free, said:

“The keeping of wild animals as pets is a growing concern. The widespread use of the internet has made it easier than ever to ‘order’ or purchase a wild animal without clarification as to where it has come from or how it should be cared for. Wild animals are particularly vulnerable to welfare problems because of their complex social, physical and behavioural needs. They require specific housing conditions, dietary requirements, and furthermore, the safety risk these animals pose to their owners and the wider public should not be ignored.”      

To find out what dangerous animals are living in other counties across the UK you can use Born Free’s interactive map on their website - www.bornfree.org.uk/dwamap

To sign Born Free’s petition for government to review the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976 please visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/221050

 

KEEP YOUR COOL AT YEOVIL SHOW 2018

 

While Country Show and Festival Organisers are very used to battling against wet and muddy weather conditions, this year it’s a much brighter picture. The weather forecast for this weekend’s Yeovil Show looks settled, warm and dry, though slightly cooler than in recent days with some possible short, sharp showers predicted for the Thursday before the show starts.  

The dry conditions and hot sunshine bring with them issues, and the organisers of the Yeovil Show would ask all those attending to heed the following advice.

Visitors

There is plenty of drinking water on the showground and there will be several opportunities to buy drinks at the show.  Keep well hydrated at all times.  

The ground is dry.  Please dispose of cigarettes carefully.

This year, disposable barbecues will not be permitted on site.  However, for competitors staying on site, there will be plenty of eating options open on the Friday before the show as well as over Show weekend.

Use sun tan lotion with 5-star protection (the sun protection factor is less important).
 
Wear hats that cover the head as well as the back of neck.
 
Dogs

There will be plenty of water for dogs dotted around the showground which will be replenished regularly. However, you may wish to bring along portable bowls and extra water for your dogs.

The Dog Show area at the bottom of the showground will offer plenty of shade for competing dogs.

PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE DOGS IN HOT CARS!

 

The Show is also taking a number of steps to ensure that the showground is safe for equine competitors, livestock and staff.
 
Livestock

The Showground is a wide, open space and is naturally very breezy.  The marquees will not have sides to them, allowing air to circulate freely through the livestock pens.

Extra supplies of water will be available across the showground for livestock.

Equine Events

The equine rings, warm ups and the Main Ring will be aerated.

There will be sand put down at the take off and landings of all jumps.

Stewards
 
Stewards will be provided with free suncream, shaded areas to stand as well as free water bottles.
 
To find out everything you need to know about Yeovil Show 2018, including how to get there and the hundreds of things to see and do, visit the website at www.yeovilshow.org
 
Have a great show!

Let land set for major Brexit shake-up, says CAAV

The amount of land let in England and Wales remained static in 2017, but is set for a major shake-up after Brexit, according to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers.
 
Its 41st annual survey of let land showed that the amount of land changing hands remained at historic low levels of 951 units in the year to October 2017, with a small net increase of 2,478 acres to a total of 73,199 acres (excluding tenancies coming up for regular renewal). “This compares with an average annual gain of 35,000 acres between 1996 and 2003 and annual losses before tenancy reform of 60,000‐90,000 acres,” explains Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the CAAV.

 Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the CAAV.

Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the CAAV.


 
“In reality, the trend continues of a virtual standstill since 2003, when the first indications of CAP reform were becoming apparent, and particularly since 2006 once entitlements to the Single Payment Scheme had been allocated.”
 
The average length of Farm Business Tenancy declined marginally, year-on-year, from 4.48 years to 3.97 years – although that remains above the 10-year average of three years and nine months. “If lettings for one year or less are excluded, the average term increases to just under five years, with the average length of FBTs let for more than five years being 10.7 years,” says Mr Moody.
 
Farms let with a house and buildings are typically let for eight to 12 years, while those with buildings alone average around five years. “The length of tenancy also rises with the size of the letting so that those of less than 25 acres averaged 2.8 years against eight years for those over 200 acres.”
 
The survey – which was unveiled at the CAAV AGM in Edinburgh on 29 June - revealed that, where there is a change of occupier, 15-30% of lettings are typically to new entrants. “It is worth noting that the more letting opportunities there are, the more there are for both new entrants and progressing farmers to take,” says Mr Moody. “Flexibility over the length of the tenancy can only encourage that.”
 
Although letting activity has stagnated since the implementation of area-based payments, the let sector in England remains over 35% of the agricultural land area – and changes to support payments after Brexit will likely free up considerably more land for tenanted use, he predicts.
 
“Restructuring has commonly meant existing businesses getting larger, but that is not inevitable for the future. The removal of farm support is likely to focus attention on margin more than cash flow, with businesses spreading their sources of income or specialising more to boost profitability,” he explains.
 
“Land occupation – as opposed to land ownership – will change as profit-driven, well-educated farmers make the most of their assets with innovation and technology, driving improved farmgate margins and freeing up other land for alternative enterprises.”
 
Post‐Brexit policies, including environmental land management schemes, should be designed to enable and accommodate these changes in farmland occupation, insists Mr Moody. “Positive measures to ensure as large a market in farmland occupation as possible is an important part of managing change to make post‐Brexit agriculture a success.”
 
For more information visit www.caav.org.uk.
 

Cumbrian Farmer Giles Mounsey-Heysham Wins Prestigious National Award for Farming and Conservation

A Cumbrian Farmer has been recognised by the farming and conservation industry for his outstanding efforts to promote good habitat and environmental management on his farm. Giles Mounsey-Heysham was awarded the highly-coveted ‘Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group National Silver Lapwing Award’, which is now in its 41st year. The award, generously sponsored by Waitrose for the 10th year, recognises farmers who go the extra mile to protect and enhance the countryside in which they farm. Giles was awarded from a national shortlist of seven farms, each selected for demonstrating outstanding commitment to good environmental practices, alongside running successful farm businesses.

The 2018 FWAG Silver Lapwing Award was presented to Giles Mounsey-Heysham on Thursday 21st June 2018 by Charles Beaumont, Silver Lapwing Head Judge, Martin Hole, Silver Lapwing Judge, and Duncan Sinclair, Agriculture Manager for Waitrose. This year the award ceremony was jointly hosted by Suffolk FWAG and the 2017 Silver Lapwing winner Edward Flatt, at Edward’s farm in Suffolk.

Many attendees from all sectors of the British farming and agriculture industry attended the award presentation and lunch. The presentation was followed by a tour of Eastwood Farm, which highlighted some of the reasons why Edward won the Silver Lapwing in 2017. 

Presentation Speakers

Chris Butler – Chairman of the FWAG Association

Charles Beaumont – Silver Lapwing Head Judge

Martin Hole – Silver Lapwing Judge

Gary Rumbold – FWAG SouthWest General Manager

Duncan Sinclair -  Waitrose Agriculture Manager

 

Farm Walk

After Lunch and the presentation of the 2018 Silver Lapwing Award, a walking tour took guests on a circular route around a portion of Eastwood Farm. The walk showcased some of the features in place and many plant species Edward Flatt has on his farm, highlighting why Edward was awarded the Silver Lapwing Award in 2017.

The farm walk was led by Tim Schofield, FWAG Suffolk Farm Conservation Adviser, who has worked closely with Edward Flatt at Eastwood Farm, and Andrew Cooper, Managing Director at Walnes Seeds.

Silver Lapwing Award Sponsorship

The Silver Lapwing Award was generously sponsored by our main sponsor, Waitrose for the 10th year, as well as Essex and Suffolk Water.

 

Quotes

Giles Mounsey-Heysham of Castletown Estate Farms on winning the Silver Lapwing award:

‘I am very honoured to be presented with the Silver Lapwing Award, against such stiff competition. It is a testament to my team at Castletown Estate and this will motivate us to continue our conservation work on the farm. We will be proud to hold the Lapwing for the next year and feel privileged to be part of this award’.

 

Charles Beaumont, Silver Lapwing Head Judge:

“The competition was very tough this year, however, our winner Castletown Farm is an exceptional example of a Lapwing Award winner. With the challenges of grazing 2500 acres of salt marsh, they have transformed the farm into a wildlife haven as well as a remarkable business. Giles Mounsey-Heysham and his team work tirelessly, their drive is inspirational - a worthy winner”

 

Duncan Sinclair, Agriculture Manager for Waitrose (the main sponsor of the event):

“This is the 10th year Waitrose has been the principle sponsor of the FWAG Silver Lapwing Awards because they represent the pinnacle when it comes to embracing and nurturing the farmland environment. It is always inspirational to see the work undertaken by the finalists, all of whom are winners in their own right”

 

Chris Butler, Chairman of the FWAG Association:

“It is truly vital for organisations, such as FWAG, to continue to promote the great work that many farmers do to protect our environment – the Silver Lapwing Awards are a celebration of this. Giles Mounsey-Heysham is an exemplar of how to farm with conservation and business in mind and he has been justly recognised by the judges for all of his hard work. Very pleased we have another worthy winner for the 41st Silver Lapwing Awards”.

YEOVIL SHOW GOES HEAVY ON HEAVY HORSES!

"The future is brighter for heavy horses, thanks to the  so-called 'Prince Charles effect'", says Nigel Murfitt, Head Judge of the Heavy Horse competition at this year’s Yeovil Show, which takes place on Saturday 14th and Sunday the 15th of July 2018.


"Despite having played such a crucial role in our farming history, our four breeds of heavy horse are now  an endangered species and to have a future they must have a purpose as they’re too expensive to keep purely as ornaments." he says.

"But with the recent news about Prince Charles opting to use draught horses in place of machinery in some of the royal parks and estates, hopefully this will encourage more landowners to follow suit.  These breeds of horse are particularly good for logging as they can often go where the tractor can’t, due to being so sure-footed."

Heavy horses are widely used to do grass cutting on parkland and have recently been drafted in to Hampton Court. And despite their size, they are also suitable for riding. Despite being a draught breed, with careful training and schooling they make excellent riding animals. There has been a growing trend for riding heavy horses in recent years, and there’s now a Heavy Horse Championship at the Horse of the Year Show.

Nigel, who grew up surrounded by heavy horses, is a highly experienced judge and has selected ‘Best in Show’ at a number of competitions all over the country, including the Royal Show.

It's not just those on four legs that Nigel's famous for judging though - he's is also well known to Saturday night TV viewers as one of the favourites of ‘The 100’ judging panel from the BBC TV entertainment series, All Together Now.

He's delighted that the entries to the Heavy Horse Competition at the Yeovil Show, sponsored by A & J Wakely & Son, are up by 15% to 44 this year and says,. “If you love heavy horses and want to find out more about them, Yeovil Show is definitely the place to be.”

Here are five points Nigel will be looking out for in a horse when judging the Heavy Horse Classes

1) Great movement
2) Good breeding standards
3) Be well turned out
4) Good mannered behaviour
5) The WOW factor
 
Further information about all the classes at Yeovil Show, as well as how to buy tickets, visit www.yeovilshow.org

The Prince of Wales’s lifelong contribution to rural life celebrated in Countryside Parade

Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attended the Prince’s Countryside Parade, held at the Royal Cornwall Show (7th June) .

The Parade was comprised of 58 of HRH’s rural patronages, made up of 450 volunteers (and 40 animals), split in to six sections representing all parts of rural life, from waterways, to livestock, to food and farming. The Parade was held to a soundtrack of the Band of the Royal Marines and the Cornish male voice choirs.

The Parade culminated in Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall being presented with an oak tree and a two month old Boreray lamb named Bryher, led in the Parade and bred in Cornwall by local farmer Jowan Bobin. At 15, Jowan is the youngest member of the Cornwall Rare Breeds Survival Trust Support Group committee.

The Boreray sheep, also known as the Boreray Blackface or Hebridean Blackface, is the smallest and rarest of all the UK’s native sheep breeds. Though still the most endangered, since HRH became the Patron of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in 1978 the Boreray has changed from being a category one critical breed, to being a category three Vulnerable breed.

Following the Parade, Their Royal Highnesses attended an afternoon tea to meet with many of the volunteers, supporters, and parade participants.

His Royal Highness also thanked the generous sponsors of the afternoon including Jaguar Land Rover, Rodda’s, Ginsters, Dairy Crest, South West Water, and the Eden Project, and Rodda’s who sponsored the afternoon tea.

A day in a reclamation yard to help Gurkha veterans?

A Somerset reclamation yard may not be the first place which springs to mind for Nepalese curry and music, but that’s changing thanks to an unusual fundraising event taking place this summer to support The Gurkha Welfare Trust.

People can support Gurkha veterans and widows in Nepal by spending Saturday 14 July 2018 rummaging for treasure at Wells Reclamation Yard and find out more about the brave Gurkhas who’ve fought for Britain for more than 200 years.

The Gurkha Welfare Trust (Western Branch) are hosting the Gurkha Bhela (Gathering) to raise much needed funds for the charity’s vital work in Nepal.

Participants will get the chance to watch performances from an acclaimed Gurkha Piper, meet and chat to Gurkha soldiers and hear a talk about Gurkhas from Brigadier Bruce Jackman OBE MC, the third generation of his family to have served with Gurkhas.

As part of the day, guests will also receive an exceptional al fresco 3-course traditional Gurkha Curry Lunch cooked by Nigel Gifford OBE, ex-Army Catering Corps and a member of the successful Army Everest Expedition of 1976.

Commenting on the day, Brigadier Jackman said; “I’ve loved hosting fundraising events in and around the South West for many years now and this opportunity just seemed too good to miss – Wells Reclamation really is a magical place with tanks, missiles, antiques and everything in between to explore, so it’s a great setting for a family day out.

“The Gurkha story is a brilliant one to tell. These men really are the bravest of the brave and it’s an honour to support them in this way”

In addition to the organised activities, participants will be able to explore the yard and in their own time and have a good look around at the things it sells which range from old military and railways items to fireplaces and a category is refers to simply as ‘weird’.

Tickets for the day cost £20 and children under 10 get in free. You can buy your tickets in advance from www.gwt.org.uk/events-and-challenges/ or purchase on the day, which kicks off from 10am.

GWTimage.jpg

Five week-long Rose Festival to take place at RHS Garden Rosemoor

From 16 June to 22July, RHS Garden Rosemoor in Torrington, Devon will host a five-week-long Rose Festival: a breath-taking showcase of colours and scents set against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful RHS Gardens, bordered by acres of stunning woodlands. Swathes of scented blooms, floral workshops and unusual cultivars on sale make this a must-see for Devon visitors this summer. 

 

Boasting one of the UK’s largest collections of roses, RHS Garden Rosemoor is home to two dedicated rose gardens, bringing together over 2000 roses across more than 200 different varieties and a wealth of hues and perfumes. From cottage garden climbers, to bright and beautiful container varieties, there will be a rose to inspire and suit all gardens.

 

Top highlights from the festival, include guided tours, expert advice from RHS horticulturists, a floral themed craft market, a rose trail, and much, much more.

Festival Events and Highlights:

 

·       Rose Weekend, extended to a three-day event from on 22 to 24 June featuring a floral-themed craft and food market with over 40 stalls in the stunning new Garden Room events building.

·       Brand New for 2018 and to celebrate the centenary of the end of the First World War and in memory of those who lost their lives, Rosemoor has planted a group of Rosa Pax. Latin for ‘peace’, Rosa ‘Pax’ is a hybrid musk rose and was developed by the rose breeder, Joseph Pemberton and launched in 1918 to commemorate the end of WW1.

 

The Reverend Joseph Hardwick Pemberton grew up in the village of Havering-atte-Bower (now within the London Borough of Havering). Roses were a passion throughout his life, but it wasn’t until his retirement from the clergy that he began rose breeding. He created a new type of shrub rose which he called ’hybrid musks’. These are highly scented, with large clusters of flowers which bloom for months. Pemberton’s roses are still highly sought after today.

 

·       Armed Forces Day, 30 June                                                                                 

Poppy.png

A 100 red ceramic poppies, interpreted and designed by popular local artist Renée Kilburn will be on display to start our commemorations of the centenary of the end of the First World War. Standing tall amongst the poppies is a wonderful sculpture of an ‘Unknown Soldier’ affectionately known as George N. The life-size soldier is crafted by another popular Rosemoor and Devon based artist, George Hider.

Armed forces personnel have free admission to Rosemoor today – simply bring ID.

The display will stay up until 11 November when we welcome all serving and retired armed forces personnel plus a family guest in for free (simply bring proof to the front entrance). Then the poppies and George will continue to be displayed as part of our annual Winter Sculpture Exhibition. The red poppies are available to purchase with a £3.50 donation on every poppy sold going to the Royal British Legion.

·       Rosemoor’s Garden Kitchen will be celebrating roses throughout the month with a delectable series of rose-inspired and rose-infused treats, from rose meringues to rose and raspberry cakes.

·       ‘Late’ openings every Friday in July - 6, 13, 20 and 27, when the garden will be open until 9pm and visitors can enjoy the gardens at dusk as the roses release their evening scent. Special offer of ‘5 after 5’ - £5 garden admission after 5pm. There will be live music and the restaurant will be serving delicious evening meals too (advance table reservations highly recommended).

·       Every Wednesday, there will rose-themed Afternoon Teas (pre-booking required) including an expert florist will demonstrate flower arranging techniques with English roses and be present for a Q & A session.

·       The Celebrate Summer self-guided trail will take visitors on a historic, scented journey throughout the 65 acre garden and includes stunning rose varieties and their fascinating stories from the Queen Mother’s Rose Garden and the Shrub Rose Garden, down the Long Borders, the Cottage Garden, as well as other roses at Rosemoor House.

Normal garden admission applies, which is free for RHS Members. Please visit www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/rosemoor/whatson or call 01805 626810 for more details.

The Egg Shed expands, as demand for traditional free range eggs boils over

The Traditional Free Range Egg Company has expanded its purpose-built headquarters, The Egg Shed in North Cadbury, Somerset, allowing it to reach out to even more independent, family-run farms. With demand for its multi-award winning free range eggs at an all-time high, the additional 6,000 square feet of production space will be equipped for grading, packing and distribution, allowing The Traditional Free Range Egg Company to partner with even more farms using the traditional flat deck production method.
 
Owners, Dan and Briony Wood, have long campaigned for a sustainable future for traditional free range egg farmers, with growing awareness leading to a substantial increase in demand for free range eggs produced in single tier sheds. This latest expansion will allow The Egg Shed to process 50% more eggs, helping satisfy consumers’ growing appetites and allowing the Somerset-based free range egg producer and supplier to continue building its network of likeminded family-run farms.
 
Dan Wood, managing director of The Traditional Free Range Egg Company, explains: “Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of where their food comes from and how it is produced, which is great news for us small independent family-run farms, but we need to ensure that we have the capacity to get these eggs out the door and into the hands of ever more consumers. We’ve done everything we can to support traditional free range egg producers over the past few years and raise consumer awareness of the difference between flat deck free range egg farming and other more modernised methods, so it’s incredibly rewarding to see traditional free range eggs rising up the pecking order, with everyone from chefs in professional kitchens to home cooks looking for a better quality of egg.”
 
The Traditional Free Range Egg Company’s free range eggs are available exclusively from independent retailers, including delis, farm shops, butchers and grocery stores, across the UK. Rambling Free hens eggs and Waddling Free duck eggs are also available for nationwide doorstep delivery via Milk & More.

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Baby boom! Know what to do if you find a baby bird out of its nest?

As reports into the RSPCA soar, the animal charity publishes advice on when to intervene and when to leave well alone

Calls from concerned animal-lovers about baby birds found away from the nest have been flooding into the RSPCA this spring, with 1,472 reports already received so far this year (2018).

 Whether they’ve been attacked and injured by another animal, separated from their mum, or even orphaned, the animal charity is ready to help these vulnerable little creatures.  


During the annual baby bird boom at this time of year, the RSPCA’s wildlife centres care for over a thousand 'orphaned' fledglings each year, picked up by well-meaning people. But many of these birds are not orphans and would have been better off if they had been left in the wild.
 
So the animal charity has produced a useful printable step-by-step guide explaining the types of situations where the babies of common garden birds might genuinely need helping, and when the young bird is purely exhibiting natural behaviour as part of its development, in which case it is usually better to leave well alone.

 visual guide to helping baby birds © RSPCA
RSPCA’s Wildlife Officer Llewelyn Lowen says: “It’s wonderful that people want to do the best for our wildlife, but sometimes it’s difficult to know when to intervene and when to hold back.
 
“The first step is to identify whether the young bird is a nestling or fledgling.  
 
“Nestlings are baby birds that have no feathers, or very few.  Because they will not survive long outside the protection of the nest, these very young birds should be taken to a vet, or a local wildlife rehabilitator.  If neither is available, the RSPCA’s emergency line can be reached on 0300 1234 999. We also provide advice on how to safely catch, handle and care for the nestling until it can be taken to an expert.  
 
“Fledglings on the other hand have all or most of their feathers and leave the nest just before they can fly. Unlike nestlings they can also perch, hop and walk.  If one is seen away from the nest, it should be left alone and watched from a distance for up to two hours to ensure the parents are returning. It is likely the parents are nearby and will still be feeding the bird. We advise never to try to return a bird to the nest as this may disturb the other young birds and may be illegal. If a fledgling is in immediate danger, it should be placed in a sheltered spot a short distance away.”

 
The RSPCA advises that there are exceptions to these rules.  For example, tawny owlets can climb back up into the nest, so if one is found under a possible nest site, the little bird should be monitored from a distance to see if the parents are nearby. If their call is heard, the young bird should be left alone.  If, after monitoring, the fledgling is genuinely orphaned, it should be taken it to a wildlife rehabilitator.
 
Other species, like gulls, ducks, swans, geese, swifts, swallows, house martins and birds of prey need to be dealt with on a case-by-case and we would advise anyone who has encountered young birds of these species in need of help, to call the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999, for further advice.
 
For further advice, visit the RSPCA’s webpage about orphaned young birds.

 

Eight West Country Farming Stalwarts Honoured at Bath & West Long Service Awards

Farm and rural workers from across the West Country were recognised at the Royal Bath & West Show in the annual Long Service Awards.

With some 382 years of experience between them, the eight recipients were nominated by Members of the Royal Bath & West of England Society for their long standing hard work in the agricultural and farming sectors.

Racking up an incredible 64 years’ experience, Mr Norman Clothier of Wells began has farming career with hand milking at just five years of age.  Today he runs Home Farm at Ston Easton, a successful dairy and sheep unit.

Hailing from Andover, Hampshire, Mr Ernest West began his agricultural career in 1974 on Frank Bucknell’s arable & dairy farm.  Latterly Mr West has worked with Mr W Flaubert on his arable & stock farm, as a fully trained agriculture craftsman.

Mr Peter Harding of Marksbury will soon be celebrating a half century in farming. For the last 42 years of his 49 year career he has been at Manor Farm, Corston, while being an active member of the community serving on the parish council and as a committee members of Marksbury Village Hall.

Award winning dairy farm manager Mr John Taylor started his farming career 44 years ago on a local Devon dairy unit.  Today he works at Worthy Farm, Pilton where in 2014 he led the herd to win the prestigious NMR, RABDF Gold Cup.

Mr Martin Sperring (East Harptree) and Mr Malcom Teague (Congresbury) both celebrate 43 year careers this year with both working with the same businesses throughout.  An employee of Mr Colston Gay’s family since leaving school, Mr Sperring has carried out almost all the tasks on the farm over the years, proving himself an honest and trustworthy person that the family feel lucky to have known. 

Majoring on the arable / mechanical side of the Alvis family business, Mr Teague has embraced the development of agricultural technology and is still a key member of the team – a safe pair of hands and a great stalwart to the business.

With 42 years of service apiece, Mr Timothy Brown of Ilminster and Mr Christopher Gibbs of Stalbridge Weston are both integral members of their teams.  Mr Brown’s hard work and enthusiasm have been essential to the success of the farming activities of the Dillington Estate, where he is as part of the dairy team and the arable and potato enterprises.   Representing the fifth generation of a farming family, Mr Gibbs was by the age of 12, on occasion, milking the family herd single handed. In 1976 he joined the Inwood Estate and by the late ‘90s was running two dairies before becoming the overall manager of Inwood Estate Farms in 2001.  Focusing his efforts on the health of his stock he lives by the creed; ‘If the cows are healthy and happy their milk yield and quality is always good’.

 

Wyke Farms announce new Cheesy Spud Kitchen and the return of Tom’s Toasties on tour

Bruton, Somerset, 18th May 2018 – Wyke Farms, the UK’s largest independent cheese producers and producers of renewable energy, today announce their experiential offering for summer with their brand new Tom’s ‘Spud Kitchen’ which is set to tantalise taste buds at some of the South West’s biggest events.

Touring with Tom’s Toastie Kitchen - now in its third year and back by popular demand - Wyke’s new Spud Kitchen will serve mouth-watering jacket potatoes with a selection of fillings. Softly baked to perfection, with a bronzed outer jacket and topped with Wyke’s Salted Farmhouse Butter and their award-winning Extra Mature Cheddar, Tom’s Spuds are the ideal fill for a field foodie, festival goer and more!

Tom’s Spud’s Menu
All served with Wyke Farms Extra Mature Cheddar, choose from Simply Salted Butter, Smokey BBQ Pulled Pork, Baked Beans, Tuna, Chicken Curry, Chilli, Coleslaw, Baked Beans, Tuna, Sweetcorn and Mayonnaise, Ham, Pineapple, Red Onion, Pancetta and Caramelised Onions.
All spuds are approximately £5.00

Named after Grandfather Tom Clothier, Tom’s Toastie Trailer sells toasties made using Wyke’s award-winning farmhouse Cheddar, crafted from the family’s 155-year-old recipe. The cheese is left undisturbed for over 12 months to develop a full and rounded flavour before being graded by the Master Cheese Grader for delicious taste and guaranteed quality.

Tom’s Toastie Menu:

Choose from old favourites including tomato, onion, ham, chorizo or spicy tomato chutney or why not try one of Wyke’s specials?:

Mushy peas and Extra Mature Cheddar
Monterey Jack, Chocolate Spread, and Marshmallows
Toastie’s are priced at approximately £5

Wyke’s mobile kitchens will be bringing a taste of their award-winning cheddar to the following events:

Tom’s Toasties

Common People Oxford, 26-27 May
Common People Southampton, 26-27 May
Royal Bath & West Show, Bath & West Showground, 30 May – 2 June
Home Farm Festival, Chilton Domer, 8-18 June
Weston Air Day, Weston Super-mare Seafront, 23-24 June
Giant Flea Market, Bath & West Showground, 15 July
Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, 26-29 July
New Wine Festival, Bath & West Showground, 28 July – 11 August
Bestival, Lulworth Castle, 2-5 August
Boomtown Fair, Matterley Estate, Hampshire 9 -12 August
Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show 15 August
Fitfest, Bath & West Showground, 18-19 August
Giant Flea Market, 26 August
Pilton Party, Worthy Farm, 7 September
From Cheese Show, West Woodlands, Frome, 8 September
Dairy Show, Bath & West Showground, 9 October
Giant Flea Market, Bath & West Showground, 21 October
Footman James Classic Car Show, Bath & West Showground, 3 November
Santa South West, Bath & West Showground, 24 November – 20 December
Giant Flea Market, Bath & West Showground, 2 December
 
Tom’s Spuds
 
Bath Festival, The Recreation Ground Bath, 26-27 May
Royal Bath & West Show, Bath & West Showground, 30 May – 2 June
Glastonbury Extravaganza, Glastonbury Abbey, 4 August
 
More events are being booked and added daily.
 
For further information and bookings contact Debbie Fewell, Events Manager, Wyke Farms Ltd, Email: debbie.fewell@wykefarms.com  Tel: 07950 965152
 
Wyke Farms has been producing its award-winning cheddar to their secret family recipe for over 150 years and has grown to become one of the largest family-owned cheese makers in Britain selling over 15,000 tonnes annually to over 160 countries around the world.

Wyke Farms have over 150 years of family farming experience. Wyke Farms’ cheese and butter is made with the milk from their cows grazing the lush pastures of the Mendip Hills in the centre of the Cheddar making region in Somerset.

Wyke Farms products are available nationwide and can be found in Asda, Co-op, Makro, Sainsbury’s Tesco and Waitrose.

 

Innovation abounds at Pig & Poultry Fair

Pig and poultry producers see the use of new technology to improve performance as one of the greatest opportunities in the years ahead, and there was plenty on offer at the Pig & Poultry Fair.
 
With everything from needle-free vaccines to automatic building controls, the Innovation Trail helped visitors to identify the latest technology to reach the market. And scooping the Pig World new product award was a 3D scanner designed by a pig farmer to automatically ‘weigh’ finishing pigs. The Fancom eYeGrow, created by Shropshire-based Harry Heath and his software designer brother-in-law Ben Wimmo impressed the judges as the one product that would have the biggest positive impact on the future of the industry.
 
Sold through JF McKenna, the eYeGrow took four years to develop, with the internet-based sensor suspended above the pigs and taking up to 20,000 readings a day, generating weigh data within 3% of actual body weights. “We need to know about weight continually throughout the process as historic data is no good,” said Mr Heath.
 
Farmers can use the system to measure feed conversion ratios and to spot any knockbacks in weight gain, enabling them to proactively manage change, without the stress and difficulties of weighing individual pigs. “It’s nice to have something that can change the industry,” he added. “I'm really passionate about that.”
 
Another new development, from the Scottish Rural University College, involved the use of 3D cameras to help farmers spot the early warning signs of tail biting, enabling them to act to prevent it. The research showed that pigs held their tails down against their body when tail biting is about to begin. “This research has achieved everything we hoped for,” said lead author Dr Rick D’Eath. “The challenge for us now is to develop this promising technology into a robust early warning system that works on any pig farm.”
 
In the broiler sector, ABN launched a new farm and supply chain management package at the Fair, designed to help optimise bird welfare and improve financial returns. Total Farm Performance consists of three service areas, which can be used alone or together: inFarm, inFocus and inDepth. The first takes a practical whole farm approach to optimise bird performance, the second brings together all the data for daily decision making, while the latter is retrospective data analysis.
 
“The broiler industry is one of small margins where little improvements can have big pay offs,” said Tom Glen at ABN. A trial of the service yielded a 9p improvement in margin over feed, and chick improvement. “If you scale that up to a larger broiler farm producing one million birds a year, the outcome could equate to around £90,000 extra margin.”
 
While there were plenty of housing systems and equipment on offer from more than 350 exhibitors, research by the Scottish Rural University College and ADAS, unveiled at the Fair, showed that farm management influences free-range layers’ welfare more than the housing system. In the first independent study of its kind in the UK, which compared flat deck and multi-tier housing, the research ousted any idea that one system is better than another.
 
Working with 42 flocks over 12 months, in conjunction with the British Free Range Egg Producers’ Association, scientists looked at a range of health and performance indicators. They found that while production was higher in multi-tier sheds, there were more keel bone fractures, whereas flat deck sheds had fewer fractures but higher mortality. “It’s clear that there are advantages and disadvantages to both systems,” said Bfrepa chief executive Robert Gooch. “The essential component to ensuring high standards of hen welfare is good stockmanship.”
 
There were a number of new products to help farmers improve their management, including new wireless environment monitors from PrognostiX, which were launched at the event. A collaboration between vets, computer engineers and data analysts, the package gives farmers a better understanding of environmental parameters, helping them to improve efficiencies and productivity across all pig and poultry sectors.
 
Being wireless, the monitors are a third of the price of wired sensors, meaning producers can install many more in a shed, providing a more complete picture of parameters including temperature, humidity and water consumption around the unit, said the firm’s Kenny Nutting. “Other applications can also send information into the same system, making it a very user-friendly option. The software immediately transforms the data into clear, visual representations that enable users to monitor performance over time and quickly identify trends of discrepancies, with automatic alerts when something goes wrong.”
 
Of course, when things do go wrong producers need to act fast, and the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) had a series of experts on stand to help farmers identify how to reduce antibiotic usage without compromising animal health and welfare. “It’s really important to have rapid diagnostics,” explained Professor Mark Fielder, who sits on RUMA’s independent science group. It can take 48 hours or more to identify what pathogen animals are infected with, by which point they may be past treating.
 
Kingston University is working on a number of projects to detect salmonella, staph aureus and mycoplasma more quickly and easily, with other research institutes doing similar work, said Prof Fielder. “If you know what you’re dealing with you can target it with the right antibiotic rather than having to take a broad spectrum approach. Dead bacteria don’t cause resistance.”
 
For those at the customer end of the supply chain, and wanting to add value to their produce by processing it themselves, Create a Cabin launched a new modular building shell to build a barn within a barn. The steel panel buildings are easy and cheap to construct, without the need for planning permission when inside an existing building, enabling producers to process their own produce on-site. “Forward-thinking farmers have moved from simply rearing livestock to adding value and selling the end product,” explained the firm’s Sebastian Dont. “We can make this simpler by avoiding the health, hygiene, planning and regulatory challenges.”
 
Event organiser Alice Bell said feedback from both visitors and exhibitors at the Fair had been tremendous. “It’s been a fantastic couple of days, with everyone enjoying this unique opportunity to network and find out about new products and ideas,” she said. “We hope that everyone has taken home some valuable information and tools to improve their business, and look forward to welcoming them back again in May 2020.”
 
 
·         The British Pig & Poultry Fair is the leading event for the UK pig, poultry and egg sectors. For more information visit www.pigandpoultry.org.uk.
 

25 Years of the British Cheese Awards & the British Cheese Industry

In 2018, the year that sees the year the British Cheese Awards celebrate its 25th anniversary, the British cheesemaking industry is in a positive position.
According to the British Cheese Board1. in 2018 the UK has over 700 differently named cheeses. A figure supported by entries for last year’s British Cheese Awards.  In 1994 296 cheeses were entered into the Awards, in 2017 there were 1,000 cheeses. That’s an increase of  +238%.
The same can be said of the number of cheesemakers that are working in the UK today. Although there is no official figure published for the number of UK based cheesemakers, if entries over the past 25 years for the Awards are to go by numbers have increased by well over a third. In 1994 97 cheesemakers entered the awards, in 2017 there were 134 makers. That’s an increase of  +39%.
Over the past 25 years the industry has experienced a real renaissance with new cheesemakers and new cheeses coming onto the scene. This is a far cry from the state of the industry just after the Second World War, when most traditional cheesemakers and cheeses had all but disappeared.


Peter Mitchell, chairman of the British Cheese Awards, says: “It’s incredibly encouraging to look at these numbers but it’s not just about these, it’s also about the quality of the cheeses being produced today. We have a superb industry here in the UK with dedicated cheesemakers, making award-winning cheeses that rival the quality of cheeses made in other countries. We’ve seen this in the entries that we’ve had for the awards over the past 25 years. It was also highlighted to me when Cornish Kern, a new cheese made by Lynher Dairies in Cornwall, won Supreme Champion at the World Cheese Awards in London last November.”
Over the past 25 years the different methods and ingredients used to make cheese have also changed. Although the UK will always be the home of Cheddar (statistics published by DEFRA for December 2017 of all the cow’s milk produced that month that was used for cheese production around 70% of it was used to make Cheddar2.), cheesemakers are creating different styles of cheeses and also using different milks.
For the 2018 Awards the committee created a new award, Best Sheep Cheese Award. This new award recognizes the popularity of British cheeses made from sheep’s milk. In 1994 there were 20 cheeses made from ewe’s milk entered into the Awards, in 2017 there were 61, an increase of +205%. In fact last year’s Supreme Champion was a cheese made from sheep’s milk - Pavé Cobble, made by White Lake Cheese, Somerset.
Prior to the Second World War, the wives of dairy farmers had historically dominated the British cheesemaking industry. In 2018, the situation is completely different. As well as well established dairies, like Cropwell Bishop and Appleby’s, there are much newer makers like Hampshire Cheeses and Berkswell. New cheesemakers are starting up annually and some of the newest  include Carrie Rimes, David Jowett and Alex James.

  • Carrie Rimes set up her cheesemaking business Cosyn Cymru in Dyffryn Ogwen at Ffarm Moelyci, near Bethesda in North Wales just over three years ago.  Having worked for many years as a grassland scientist, at the age of 53 she decided to change careers and become a cheesemaker.
  • David Jowett, of King Stone Dairy, Oxfordshire, makes the award-winning Rollright cheese. David worked as a cheesemonger for the UK’s oldest cheesemonger Paxton & Whitfield in Stratford-upon-Avon, before training to actually make cheese.
  • In fact in the UK, cheesemakers are come from all walks of life as Alex James of Alex James Presents shows. Before becoming a cheesemaker, Alex was the bassist for the internationally known indie/rock group Blur.

The British Cheese Awards will take place on Wednesday 30th May 2018 at the Royal Bath & West Show, Shepton Mallet, Somerset. The judging and the presentation of the prizes at the awards dinner will all take place on the same day.
As well as Supreme Champion, the Reserve Champion, the four Country Awards and the eight Main Category Awards, there will also be a special Supreme Champion of Champions Award.
For details on how to enter this year’s cheese awards and a full schedule cheesemakers can use the following link http://www.britishcheeseawards.com.
Sponsors for this year’s awards include the following companies: Atalanta Corp, Atlas Packaging, Aubrey Allen, Barbers, Berkshire Labels, Bord Bia, Charlton House, Coombe Castle International, Delamere Dairy, DuPont™ Danisco®, Fine Food Digest, Harvey & Brockless, Marks & Spencer, Murray’s Cheese, Paxton & Whitfield, Peter Green Chilled, Rowcliffe, Anthony & Son, Somerdale International, Specialist Cheesemakers Association, Speciality Food Magazine, Tesco, The British Organic Dairy Company, The Fine Cheese Co., West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers, Wookey Hole Cave Aged and Wyke Farms Ltd.


1. http://www.cheeseboard.co.uk/
2. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/684536/milkutil-statsnotice-02feb18.pdf

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Grassland UK helps farmers make the most of their assets

Silage making is in full throe across much of the country, but following a difficult winter and spring farmers need to take care to maximise quality and quantity this year. And they picked up plenty of top tips at Grassland UK on Thursday (10 May), with a tremendous demonstration of new kit and a plethora of advice on offer.

After the wet winter and spring, many farmers need to remedy problems with their soil to maximise grassland productivity, according to Calcifert consultant Mark Tripney, who was speaking in the British Grassland Society seminars. “Poor root development limits a lot of crops, so dig a hole. Do you feel the spade resisting and at what depth? Are their worms? The spade is a great tool for saving money and for targeting nutrients and machinery use.”

There was plenty of equipment on display at the event, offering farmers a wide choice for relieving soil compaction, from subsoilers to aerators. “I think aeration is a great tool which is under-utilised,” said Mr Tripney. It removes the thatch of grass on the soil surface, which prevents nutrients from getting down into the soil profile, and opens up compaction, enabling roots to grow down to find those nutrients.

While many farmers make great use of manure to reduce fertiliser applications, one concern – particularly on dairy farms – is the high level of potassium in the soil from repeated slurry applications. This locks up magnesium, causing problems both for the grass and the cattle. “Beware of the antagonisms which might be on your farm,” warned Mr Tripney. And test the soil for more than N, P and K. “Around 60% of grassland is short of calcium, which is essential for the structure of the soil and for cell development in the plant.”

Supplying sufficient nutrients for the crop is, of course, essential, and it’s vital to get on with aftercut fertiliser as soon as possible after taking the first cut of silage, said Graham Ragg, senior agronomist at Mole Valley Farmers. “You lose 2% a day in second cut yields for every day you delay putting on fertiliser after taking first cut,” he explained. “So if you wait a week you lose 14% or about 1t/acre.”

According to a survey by Germinal, over 40% of dairy farmers had shortened their cutting intervals over the past three years, with 92% reporting better silage quality as a result. However, it’s vital to choose the right grass mixtures, and the new Recommended Grass and Clover List, launched at Grassland UK, featured a number of new varieties, including AberBann and AberSwan from the IBERS breeding programme.

Oliver Seeds also launched a new multi-species grass mixture at the event, to meet increasing demand from farmers for species-rich herbal leys. “Multi-species swards have a lot of advantages over straight ryegrass leys,” said general manager Rod Bonshor. These include enhanced stress tolerance and persistence, with greater root mass and depth, and extended growth at both ends of the season. “The forage also has greater palatability, a higher trace element and mineral content, and some plants have anthelmintic properties which helps combat any worming problems.”

For those interested in the physical aspects of silage making there was lots of kit to choose from, from Fendt’s Katana forage harvester to John Deere’s new V400 variable chamber round balers. With more than 180 exhibitors across the 100-acre site, working machinery demonstrations included SIP’s Air Swath 300F, which made its UK working debut and is designed to produce top quality silage, free from soil and stones.

OPICO had the new HE-VA Grass Rejuvenator, designed to over-seed and reseed leys, while in the muck demonstration area Vredo Dodewaard demonstrated its self-propelled VT4556 TEBBE spreader and VT7028-2 liquid slurry machine.

Massey Ferguson enjoyed significant interest in a variety of new equipment  – and William Judge, head of UK and Ireland noted an upbeat feel among dairy farmers. “People are investing in kit now while the milk price is good,” he said. “Ahead of Brexit, they are using this opportunity to invest while they know they still have the budget to do so.”

However, LIC’s Piers Badnell – who wrapped up the event in the final seminar of the day – warned farmers to create a lean, efficient business to survive post Brexit. “Volatility is here to stay and every business needs to make a profit under all eventualities,” he said. The UK has a climate suitable for grass growth, so farmers should be making more use of that to cut input costs.

On average, UK dairy farmers use just under 50% grass in the diet – but for every 10% point increase above this, farmers will save 4p/litre in costs of production, he added. But while it’s important to reduce external costs like concentrates and fuel, it’s vital to view labour as an investment.

“Good staff and attention to detail are the keys to every efficient business,” said Alan Lyons, head of shows at the Royal Bath & West Society. “But it’s also vital for those staff to keep up-to-date with the latest advice, technology and ideas. There was plenty of each on offer at Grassland UK and we were delighted to see so many people turn out at what is always a busy farming time of year.”

·       For more information and to book tickets head to www.bathandwest.com.

370 ACRE ARABLE FARM TO LET

A wonderful opportunity has come up to take on the tenancy of a substantial farm in Mid Devon. Stags is offering Haske and Bradley Farms, Shobrooke, Crediton, Devon to let on a 10-year Farm Business Tenancy. The farms extend to approximately 373 acres of primarily Grade 2 and 3 arable land and, either separately or combined, present an enticing prospect for existing farmers to expand on current enterprises or indeed for new entrants to build a business.

 Lydia Cox of Stags says: “The land is coupled with two ranges of useful modern farm buildings, which include a 1,400-tonne capacity for grain storage with drying facilities. This is valuable for a holding of this size, as being able to dry grain on site and have the flexibility to sell it at the most appropriate time without incurring storage charges helps to improve profitability.”

 With the owners retiring, this rare opportunity is available as a whole or in two lots with Haske Farm extending to 145 acres and Bradley Farm to 228 acres. The two farms are currently farmed by the owners and run together as an arable unit using minimal tilling and direct drilling. It is hoped that the prospective tenant will continue to farm in the same manner.

 While the owners are offering a 10-year Farm Business Tenancy, this will come with three-yearly rent reviews, which will help give protection to both parties as the future level of farm subsidies is likely to change in a post-Brexit world. The Basic Payment Scheme entitlements will be transferred to the successful applicant or applicants and tenders are expected on this basis.

 If you would like to obtain further information or attend one of the viewing days, please contact Lydia Cox or Alex Rew of Stags, Tiverton on 01884 235 701 or email l.cox@stags.co.uk