Adding value and managing farm costs at Cereals

Arable margins are always under pressure, so what can farmers do to manage their costs and potentially add value to their products?

Trying to add value to every-day commodity crops may not seem feasible, but knowing the market can make a real difference and provide farmers with the chance to capitalise on opportunities. At the same time, looking at how to manage costs can improve utilisation of inputs and labour or flag up available grants.

This year’s Cereals Event (14-15 June) aims to put all of this information at farmers’ fingertips through its ‘Adding Value and Managing Costs’ Knowledge Trail, allowing visitors to easily identify the most relevant stands and exhibits to them. “There is a lot to see at Cereals, which is why we have mapped out the Knowledge Trails to help farmers identify areas of interest, making navigating the show simpler,” explains event director Jon Day.

Other Knowledge Trails include precision and efficiency, managing blackgrass, getting the most from oilseed rape, Brexit-proofing your business, and weeds, disease and nutrition.

By following the ‘Adding Value and Managing Costs’ Trail, visitors can see everything from new wheat genetics to business advisers, and smart software to tax advice. “Margins are squeezed and there is a lot of uncertainty in the months and years ahead, so it is really important that farmers are achieving every last pound from their crops,” says Mr Day.

Growing dynamic wheats with good yield and agronomic attributes to suit market opportunities while coping with the British weather will be the focus on the KWS stand. In particular, the firm will be showing how farmers can assess yield response to low, standard and high-input fungicide programmes when faced with high disease pressure.

Unpredictable weather means spraying within a certain time window can be difficult, and KWS will be using trials data to quantify the effect of a 10-day delay to T3 applications on varieties with different levels of resistance to Septoria tritici. “The results highlight the risk of low-input programmes when disease pressure intensifies and demonstrate that once yield potential is lost, it cannot be recovered,” says John Miles, KWS product development manager.

“Varieties with better disease resistance are less dependent on application timing, but they are not an excuse to cut back on fungicide programmes and still expect excellent performance,” he adds.

Intuitive software has also become extremely important to many farmers, optimising time spent in the farm office or on the move. Landmark Systems will be showcasing its KEYPrime software, which allows for quick access to key performance indicators and helps to keep on top of individual enterprise performance, says Keith Morris, Landmark’s senior sales manager. “Immediate identification of any unexpected figures enables the farmer to react and make informed decisions in fluctuating markets.”

Landmark will also be demonstrating KEYPrime NEWAge, a Cloud hosting option that allows access anywhere with broadband.

While optimising production is vital, it is also critical to run businesses as effectively as possible. Robinson & Hall will be helping farmers to add value to their business without making costly mistakes. Hosting a number of different experts on its stand, the firm will be offering farmers advice on budgeting, diversification, and development options, as well as grants and subsidies. Other areas, such as tenancies, lettings, cross compliance, rights of way, wills and partnership agreements will also be covered.

“There is no silver bullet to maximise returns in the arable sector – it’s about evaluating every aspect of a farming business to boost efficiencies across the board,” says Mr Day. “By drawing on the best advice from each professional in their sphere, farmers can ensure the viability of their business for the future, and we are delighted to be able to help them in doing that.”

Other participants in the ‘Adding value and managing costs’ knowledge trail include:

  • AHDB – AHDB Monitor Farm network and the benchmarking tool, Farmbench
  • Ellacotts – Benchmarking, tax solutions, planning opportunities and sensitivity analysis, to see how changes to prices and yields affect profit.
  • Fera Science – Showcasing spore trap technology, the latest smart surveillance for assessing disease risk.
  • NIAB – Variety demonstration plots, innovative new fungicide chemistry, technological crop management, including the launch of its agrochemical comparison tool, ActivSmart, and NIAB TAG membership services such as advice, research and trial results.

Tickets are now on sale via the website and visitors can use the promocode CEREALS17TOS to save over 15% on tickets.