Wet weather the previous day left the showground itself boggy, which gave visitors to the outside stands plenty of mud to wade through, but the day itself was dry and saw crowds of potential customers chatting to friends old and new, clearly enjoying being “allowed out” once more.

There was the usual line up of machinery dealers, equipment suppliers and professional advisers ranging from banks to land agents and solicitors. The outside display area featured impressive equipment line-ups from the likes of Bell Agricultural, Ernest Doe Power, Haynes Agricultural, Agwood and Lister Wilder, rubbing shoulders with media sponsor South East Farmer.

Dryer and warmer were the inside exhibitors, who quite literally ran from A – represented by A1 Installations – through to Z for Zantra and Zedlock. Amongst the well-known names talking to potential clients about the prospects for 2022 were Agrovista UK, Alvan Blanch, Batcheller Monkhouse, Graham Heath Construction, Kirkland, NatWest and Southern Farmers.

While most exhibitors were pleased with the number of visitors to the show, Pressure Clean’s Gary and Donna Fielding were particularly impressed with the quality, having picked up a number of solid leads for their Nilfisk, MAC and Karcher ranges during the day.

Another exhibitor who enjoyed a busy show was solar specialist Shaun Beattie, of BeBa Energy UK, who said visitors to the stand had been “two deep” for much of the morning, discussing solar PV installations and rapidly advancing battery technology.

At the NFU Mutual stand, the team was kept busy both by general enquiries and by those who wanted advice on how to deal with storm damage following the strong winds that had ripped through the region just days earlier.

The Bell Agricultural stand featured an impressive line-up of machinery from McHale, reflecting a partnership that is now celebrating its fifth anniversary.

Bell Agricultural’s Robin Back said the franchise had proved highly successful not just because of the quality of the McHale products and the manufacturer’s customer support but because the ethos of the business matched his own.

“It’s another family business like Bell Agricultural and we work well together. They understand what our customers need and they provide great back up as well as making first class machinery,” he said.

Kieran Hughes, UK sales manager for McHale, which is based in County Mayo and makes a wide range of grassland equipment, including mowers, rakes, balers, wrappers and straw blowers, said the show had been “even better than we anticipated”, with a steady flow of customers throughout the day.

Julian Barnes, Chairman of organisers the Kent County Agricultural Society (KCAS), said: “Despite the poor weather, we’ve seen an excellent turnout in exhibitors and visitors.” The society said 1,500 members of the farming industry had taken the opportunity to network with colleagues and industry experts and catch up with the latest advancements in technology and machinery.

The society said the day’s seminar on “21st Century Farming: Evolving in a Changing Landscape”, had focused on a number of hot topics faced by today’s farmers and rural business owners, including diversification, regenerative soil practices, the post BPS funding scheme, natural capital and succession.

Sam Barnes, Tom Sewell, Callum Preece, Sarah Mannooch and Richard Wordsworth gave their insights into some of the current challenges in farming as well as their tips and tricks for navigating the present climate.

Jan Lorraine, elected as KCAS vice-chair earlier this year and attending her first event in that capacity, said she was “delighted to see what a success it has been”. She added: “We had a fantastic range of trade stands this year, representing all aspects of the farming industry, and it was great to catch up with some familiar faces.

“Farm Expo aims to support a wide range of farming enterprises, not just arable and livestock sectors but also fruit and viticulture, so having a diverse range of trade exhibitors here allows us to connect businesses to a broad range of farming specialties.”

Mechanical weeding proves its worth

Specialist tractor and machinery dealers NP Seymour showcased the latest in mechanical weeding technology at the well-attended show.

Mounted on a new Gen 3 Fendt 209v Vario Profi+ was a Clemens SB Compact Frame and Radius SL+ which uses cultivator blades to effectively undercut the topsoil and cut the root structure of the weeds, while the optional rotary tiller incorporates the topsoil.

While NP Seymour also stocks and supplies other brands of mechanical weeding equipment, the Clemens took centre stage at Agri Expo as it has been praised recently for its involvement in an integrated weed management trial.

The results of the IWMPRAISE project proved that mechanical weeding is just as effective as herbicide. The study found the difference between the mechanical and chemical treatments was marginal, dispelling growers’ concerns that moving away from herbicide could reduce yield.

The trial also found that the Clemens Radius SL+ was the most effective in reducing biomass and had an impact on the greatest number of different weed families.

“Mechanical weed control is still one of the things we get asked about the most,” said Claire Seymour, sales and marketing director at NP Seymour.

“Under-vine cultivators are not a one-size-fits-all product. Modern systems can be incredibly sophisticated, so before choosing a make or model, growers need to think about what they are trying to achieve.

“The system on offer from Clemens is robust and comprehensive and has been built to suit growers who need to do everything in just one pass. It is designed to deal well with hardy weeds, and vineyard managers often comment that the Clemens will do a more thorough job, with the effects lasting noticeably longer.”