‘Evolution or Revolution? The next 50 years’ will be the topic of intense debate by leading lights in British agriculture at this year’s South of England Agricultural Society’s Farming Conference on Wednesday 15 November at the South of England Showground in Ardingly.
Attracting an audience of over 250 farmers, landowners and agriculturalists from across the region, this popular event will take a look at the changes that have taken place over the last 50 years in agriculture before debating what the next 50 years might look like.
The South of England Agricultural Society is 50 years old this year and over this time agriculture and the rural industries have seen significant change, in fact some would say that over the last 50 years we have witnessed a revolution in farming.
Remarkable advances in technology and massive increases in productivity have seen a resulting shift in the social fabric of our rural communities. The world has become smaller and more global. We have experienced rapid population growth and a consumer that is increasingly concerned about how their food is grown. Climate change is likely to have a major impact on many aspects of our lives and there is a new generation of millennials who communicate and interact in ways we could never have imagined even a decade ago.
What has this meant for agriculture over the last 50 years and what does it mean for the future? Are we sitting on an edge of new agricultural revolution driven by technology, climate change, environmental concerns and globalisation, or will agriculture continue to evolve slowly within a continually changing world?
The Society is delighted to welcome back BBC presenter, Charlotte Smith to chair the panel of expert speakers, opening with three generations from the same family. Allan, Peter and Chris Appleton will set the scene, describing the last 50 years of dairy farming in Sussex and reflecting on what lies ahead for Chris who has recently taken up the reins. David Wilson, the farm manager of the Duchy Home Farm at Highgrove will provide his view on how agriculture needs to change in the next 50 years, and Peter Kendall, chairman of AHDB, past president of the NFU and an active farmer will set out his vision for the future.
“We have seen incredible technological changes over the last five decades, from the development of crop chemistry and precision farming to the arrival of the Internet and mobile technology,” said Duncan Rawson, a Nuffield Scholar sponsored by the Society and this year’s conference organiser.
“This opens up the debate about the next 50 years. What challenges and opportunities will we be facing ahead? What sort of future do we want for our industry?”
After the successful introduction of the Technical Forum that ran prior to the conference last year, the Society will be inviting active and progressive farmers and students to come and learn more about ‘soil and grassland management for profitable agriculture’. This interactive session starts at 3.30pm and will end at 5.30pm and has been allocated Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points this year.
Presenters include soil scientist, Stephen Briggs, who has worked throughout the UK and internationally for over 20 years delivering soil, water and crop advice. He also farms 270 acres of land in Cambridgeshire and Rutland, so has first-hand experience of managing soil and will share his knowledge on degradation and what we can do to turn the tide.
Rob Bonshor is the general manager for Oliver Seeds, which has been advising and supplying forage seeds since 1920 and he will talk about the importance of variety selection and forage mixes. Finally Oliver Hall, co-founder and director of Evolution Farming will talk about getting the most out of your grassland to drive livestock and dairy profitability.
Sitting in the middle of 150 acres, the South of England Showground is the ideal venue to host the Farming Conference, in partnership with South East Farmer magazine and sponsored by Mayo Wynne Baxter, Complete Land Management (CLM), Lloyds Bank, Richard Place Dobson LLP and South East Business Systems Ltd.
The Farming Conference is FREE to attend for people with an interest in agriculture and related industries and includes refreshments, available from 6pm prior to the conference debate starting at 7pm. The Technical Forum is also free, but will be allocated on a first come first served basis and it is essential to register your place for both through the farming conference page at www.seas.org.uk
South of England Farming Conference Wednesday 15 November 2017
Technical Forum 3.30-5.30pm
Farming Conference 6-10pm
South of England Showground, Ardingly, West Sussex, RH17 6TL (Near Haywards Heath. Junction 10 off M23)