New-look seminars help farmers prepare for change at Cereals 2018

Agriculture is facing unprecedented change. Brexit, restrictions on chemical usage, and accelerating scientific innovation all make for uncertain times. However, with revolution comes opportunity, so how can farmers ensure the best possible outcome for their business?

“At such an unpredictable time for the industry, it’s essential that farmers stay up to date with the latest ideas and advice,” says Jon Day, event director at Cereals 2018. “No-one really knows what lies ahead but this year’s Cereals Event will really help to put the challenges and opportunities into perspective and explore what the industry can do to ensure we’re as prepared as possible.”

Of course, Cereals 2018 is all about change, so the Arable Conference will benefit from a fresh look at this year’s event. It is splitting into two, enabling visitors to choose between lively debates with industry leaders or getting up to speed with the latest technical arable research.

Cereals Controversial – fronted by a panel of politicians and leading industry officials – will see some of the hottest topics in the arable industry up for discussion. Business resilience and demonstrating environmental and socially responsible activities are just some of themes set to be discussed by some of the most influential people in UK agriculture.

Cereals Conversations will be a hub for knowledge exchange, taking a more technical approach and providing cutting-edge research and advice for farmers and growers. Industry experts from across the sector will be on hand, arming growers with knowledge on everything from using data to drive decision making to emerging weed control strategies.

This year’s content partner, AHDB, will be both hosting seminars in both the Conversations and Controversial marquees, with several speakers taking their seat in sessions across the two days.

Here are just some of the speakers and topics that will be covered over the two days.

Cereals Controversial 

Fit for the future: The debate – 9:30am (13 June)

Kicking off proceedings in the Cereals Controversial marquee is Fit for the Future: The Debate, hosted by Cereals content partner, AHDB. This debate will bring together politicians and industry experts – including Michael Gove and Sir Peter Kendall, chair of AHDB – to discuss what the future of the supply chain will look like with no subsidies.

How resilient is your business – 11:00am (13 June)

Resilience in the face of uncertainty is something all businesses need, and no more so than those in agriculture. David Eudall, market intelligence partnerships manager at AHDB and Jeremy Moody Secretary to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers will join financial experts and host famer Robert Law in discussing how arable farmers can build resilience into their businesses.

The crops of the future – 1:00pm (13 June)

The first afternoon session will include AHDB’s consumer insights manager Steven Evans and Premium Crops’ managing director Andrew Probert. The panel will consider whether farmers should be looking to grow a more diverse range of crops – given the changing climate and subsidy landscape – as well as looking at what insights the industry has on what consumers want.

The farm labour dilemma: what’s the future? – 2:30pm (13 June)

The face of farming is changing. The arable industry needs to ensure it attracts and retains the right type of labour to support farming businesses in the future. Visitors will hear from David Frost, organisational development director at Total Produce on how the fresh produce industry has adapted to labour shortages, and Stephen Jacob, chief executive at BASIS on the value of lifetime learning and improving the skills of the workforce.

Fit for the future: Survival of the fittest – 10:30am (14 June)

Day two of the event will begin with another panel discussion featuring AHDB experts chaired by Martin Grantley-Smith, cereals and oilseeds strategy director. The theme of this debate will be around increasing farm business productivity and benchmarking to measure success.

A farm without machinery? 2:00pm (14 June)

With increasing costs of owning and running large machinery, this debate will look at alternative options including machinery sharing, contracting, hire and finance. It will also explore the impact of artificial intelligence and how we can run tractors more efficiently. Speakers are set to include Mark Suthern, national head of agriculture at Barclays, Kit Franklin from Harper Adams University and Gloucestershire farmer Richard Ward.

Cereals Conversations

Sustainable soil health and nutrition – 9:30am (13 June)

Over in the Conversations marquee, the first day of the event will begin with an in-depth technical seminar looking at the alternatives to conventional fertiliser strategies for sustainable soil health and nutrition. Dr Alastair Leake from the Allerton Project and John Cherry, Hertfordshire farmer will present their experiences.

Artificial intelligence: the future is here – 11:00am (13 June)

Could the future of farming be in artificial intelligence? Speakers from robotics companies and research organisations will discuss the potential benefits and drawbacks of such technology.

Guarding glyphosate – action to protect efficacy and availability – 1:00pm (13 June)

Hosted by AHDB, the Wednesday afternoon will see a discussion around the protection of glyphosate. Themes of discussion are set to include stewardship, best practice, change of behaviour and timing of applications to preserve this vital herbicide for the future.

The next generation of innovators – 10:30am (14 June)

Thursday morning’s seminars will feature a next generation farmer who is set to discuss the challenges of farming in a new digital and data-rich age, and how innovating is paying off.

Fungicide futures – 12:00pm (14 June)

Hosted again by event content partner, AHDB, the afternoon session will begin with a discussion into how the future of fungicides may look in terms of potential regulatory changes, variety choices and increased resistance to fungicides.

Making better data driven decisions – 2:00pm (14 June)

Representatives from technology and data companies will discuss the usefulness of data collection and analysis in making on-farm decisions. They will be joined by Dr Ellie Marshall, Crop Production Systems Scientist at AHDB.

Full seminar timetable

Cereals Controversial – Day 1

Topic Timing
Fit for the Future: the debate

Politicians and Industry experts will discuss what the future of the supply chain will look like with no subsidies.

9:30
How resilient is your business?

Experts discuss ways of making farming businesses more resilient in the face of uncertainty.

11:00
The crops of the future

With a changing climate and changing subsidy landscape – should we be looking to grow a more diverse range of crops? What insights do we have on what consumers want?

 

13:00
The farm labour dilemma: what’s the future?

Encouraging new entrants, training and investment, changing the image of arable farming.

14:30

 

Cereals Controversial – Day 2

Topic Timing
Fit for the Future: Survival of the Fittest

Panel discussion around increasing farm business productivity and benchmarking to measure success.

10:30
Publicly reducing our impact

Farming is in the spotlight. How should farmers demonstrate their environmental and socially responsible activities to a wider public?

12:00
A farm without machinery?

Alternative options owning and running large machinery, including machinery sharing, contracting, hire, finance, impact of AI and how we can run tractors more efficiently.

14:00

 

Cereals Conversations – Day 1

 

Topic Timing
Sustainable soil health and nutrition 

Two case studies on practical sustainable soil health and fertility

9:30
Artificial Intelligence: the future is here

Drones, robots, data collection and analysis. Is automation and AI the future and how can we make it work?

11:00

 

 

Guarding glyphosate – action to protect efficacy and availability

Stewardship, best practice, change of behaviour, timing of applications to preserve this vital herbicide for the future.

13:00
Emerging weed control strategies 

A roundup of emerging weed control techniques, including chemical and mechanical and the impact on herbicide resistance, and soil health.

14:30

 

Cereals Conversations – Day 2

 

Topic Timing
The next generation of innovators

A next generation farmer talks about the challenges of taking on the farm and how innovating is paying off.

10:30
Fungicide Futures

What will the future looks like in terms of potential regulatory changes, variety choices and increased resistance to fungicides.

 

12:00
Making better data-driven decisions 

How can we collect and use data to better drive business profitability.

14:00

 

 

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About The Author

Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.