Third joint UAS-CAFRE-UFU conference

Third Joint UAS, CAFRE, UFU Arable Conference Hailed As Success

The annual joint UAS, CAFRE, UFU Arable Conference

The annual joint UAS, CAFRE, UFU Arable Conference has become a firm fixture in all arable farmer diaries for the last 3 years.  The past success of the event has been due to the combination of the topical subjects covered and the high standard papers delivered by researchers and technologists, which have been complemented by arable farmer speakers.

This year the event held at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus on Tuesday 13th January did not disappoint and attracted a record number of over 270 delegates.

The conference themed on the implications of CAP reform and other topical agronomy issues was opened by guest key note speaker Guy Smith who is currently Vice President of the National Farmers Union. Guy addressed the conference with a paper that focused on the issue of diminishing crop protection products and the need for food security. He gave the audience a stark warning, “that decisions made by regulators within Europe to ban crop protection materials such as herbicides fungicides and could have some unintended consequences for agriculture and food production across the continent”

The morning session chaired by the current Ulster Arable Society Chairman and arable farmer Robert Moore began with a series of three talks. The first of which was from Keith Johnston (DARD) who outlined the shape of the new CAP schemes due to be implemented from January 2015.  This was followed by Co Down arable farmer Andrew Herron who gave an insight into the plans that he has made for his arable farm to meet the challenges of CAP reform this year.

The final session of the morning was a joint paper given by AFBI’s Deputy Chief Executive, Sinclair Mayne, and Dr Ethel White of AFBI Crossnacreevy.  This paper gave an insight into current local arable research and future arable research priorities. The difficult budget decisions facing AFBI will mean prioritizing expenditure and with the arable sector only accounting for 4% of total agriculture then the assumption must be that the sector is vulnerable.

Over the lunch break growers had the opportunity to view CAFRE’s Biofilter technology project, for the bioremediation of sprayer washings.
The afternoon session chaired by CAFRE’s Eric Long, focused on agronomy issues of grass weed control and soil phosphate management.  David Wall, who is a Soil Scientist at Teagasc, Johnstown Castle together with Robin Bolton, CAFRE Senior Crops Development Adviser, delivered a paper entitled “Efficient Soil Phosphate Management”.  Over the last few years grass weed control in arable crops has become a greater challenge due to limitations on herbicides availability and cultivation techniques.  To address these issues Dr Stephen Moss of Rothamsted Research delivered a paper, sponsored by the HGCA, on considerations for arable (grass) weed control.  The final paper of the day and perhaps the most entertaining was delivered by Co. Meath arable farmer and Irish Farmers Journal columnist Gerald Potterton. Gerald gave farmers view on the practicalities of managing soil fertility and weed control on his farm with particular emphasis on his use of minimum till techniques  
The final discussion and question and answer session, with questions from the audience was facilitated by Andy Doyle the Irish Farmers Journal’s Tillage Editor.

Quotes of the day

Gerald Potterton on his ancestors having to sell a large area of the family farm over one hundred years ago and which he purchased back in the1980's
“The farm was lost due to a combination of Fast Women, Slow Horses and Winter Beef Finishing”

Local delegate

“This conference event has come to mean to Arable Farmers what the Winter Dairy Fair means to Dairy farmers”

Charlie Kilpatrick
CAFRE Senior Business Technologist

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