Successful debut for East of England Farming Conference

by | Dec 3, 2015

East of England Future Farmers

Next Generation members heard from an inspiring line-up of industry leading speakers and ‘Future Farmers’ at the East of England Farming Conference today (3 December). The impressive, debut event was held at the East of England Showground in Peterborough.

Key-note speeches came from Sir Peter Kendall, Chairman of AHDB, NFU President, Guy Smith, who discussed meeting market challenges, and Peter Simpson, CEO Anglian Water, who talked about coping with reduced water resources in the East of England and the need for collaboration.

The conference looked at the political and economic issues facing agriculture with talks from Lucia Zitti, NFU Economist, and Gail Soutar, NFU Chief Economist and International Affairs Adviser.

Susie Emmett, of Green Shoots Productions gave a forceful analysis of some of farming’s often side lined fundamental problems and challenged the audience to face up to them, suggesting a range of solutions.

CEO of Trelleborg Wheel Systems UK, Andrea Manenti, talked about producing more for less. By increasing the footprint of tyres he said productivity could be increased by improving traction and reducing soil compaction, with benefits for yield, fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

Another popular element of the day was a focus on four ‘future farmers’ who have met a wide range of industry opportunities and challenges. Guy Thallon, talked about his successful agri-tech project that reduced the environmental impact of cleaning carrots, and cereal and arable farmer, Luke Abblitt, revealed the challenges he faced when he took on a council farm and expanded his acreage.

Nuffield Scholar and photographer turned farmer, David Walston, explained how he improved soil conditions and yields by rotating between pasture and cropping. He was joined by fellow Nuffield Scholar and farm manager Russell McKenzie, who talked about ‘challenging the conventional approach’ to farming based on careful analysis of statistics and staff feedback.

The event’s fringe exhibition provided an excellent opportunity to learn about leading businesses as well as a great forum for networking.

The conference was organised by the East of England Agricultural Society in partnership with AF and its sponsors – EDGE Careers, Brown and Co, Bayer, Camgrain, Churgates, Roythornes, Safety Revolution, the NFU and Farmers Weekly.