The buzz was back as Farm Expo welcomed more than 2,000 visitors to a show that has rapidly established itself as one of the South East’s leading farming trade shows.

Despite the challenges facing the industry, there was a feeling of optimism in the wintry air, with the wide variety of stand holders all enthusiastic about the level of enquiries and the number of visitors at the Detling event.

Organisers the Kent County Agricultural Society (KCAS) reported a record number of visitors, while exhibitors South East Farmer spoke to were all keen to praise the success of the show, which was celebrating its fifth year.

They included Chris Durrant from long-standing machinery dealer P Tuckwell Ltd, who described Farm Expo as “a key show in the agricultural calendar” which gave dealers “an ideal opportunity to catch up with a lot of clients in one day”.

The show featured morning and afternoon seminar sessions as well as showcasing the latest in agricultural products, technologies and services and providing a platform for farmers and industry professionals to exchange thoughts and ideas.

Despite a late start to the proceedings, launched by KCAS president William Boscowen, who reminded the audience that 2023 marked the charity’s centenary, the morning seminar session was well received by an attentive audience.

It seems that virtually every farming conference these days focuses on ‘the future of farming’, and Farm Expo chose to toe the line, with Hugo Dwerryhouse from Nonington Farms explaining the success story that James Loder-Symonds’ enterprise has become.

Assistant farm manager Hugo explained that the farm’s business model depended on “Income stacking”, making every hectare of land count by looking for as many different opportunities as possible, from environmental grants to working with water authorities and co-operating with businesses and further education establishments on research projects.

On carbon trading, Hugo said the business felt that although Nonington Farms had researched its own levels and had capacity to sell, it was too early to enter the market because of the wide range of methods being used to make carbon calculations. “If you look at three different ways of calculating your carbon you’ll get three different figures,” he pointed out.

Hugo’s presentation was followed by an interesting talk from Roel Janssen, head of business development at Planet Farms, a vertical farming company that claims it can produce 100 times as much food from a given area of land as could be achieved using traditional agriculture.

The impressive morning session was rounded off by Colin Hall, from BTF, who updated the audience on labour supply issues and warned that some sectors of the industry were “teetering on the edge of crisis”. The afternoon seminar session featured contributions from Brachers on succession, Tesco on sustainability and Amazone on direct drilling.

Looking back on the show, KCAS Chairman Julian Barnes said: “It’s wonderful to see such support for this event. The feedback received from both visitors and exhibitors has been overwhelmingly positive, and it is clear to see there is still an appetite for these in-person events.”