Three-hundred-plus members and guests of Fram Farmers, one of the UK’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives, attended its annual Trials Day in Suffolk on 25 June. They came from all over East Anglia, and beyond, to the event which, for the second successive year, was held at Mowness Hall, Stonham Aspal, an excellent venue which enabled visitors and exhibitors to get the most out of their day. Host R. H. Forrest farms over 4,000 acres of owned, rented and contracted land, and has been a Fram Farmers member for over 40 years,
James Forrest, who takes a long-term approach to farming, stated: “We do not know what will happen in the future, so we operate to the highest standards, ensure that the farm is always in very good condition, use up-to-date machinery and employ a loyal, skilled workforce. All our inputs are purchased through Fram Farmers and we use the cooperative’s crop marketing department, so it was nice to do our bit by hosting the Trials Day.”
Fram Farmers provides the purchasing, grain marketing and administrative function for over 1,400 member businesses farming more than 350,000 hectares throughout the UK. Each year the organisation purchases in excess of £200 million of core inputs and services on behalf of members, enabling them to achieve best value from the supply chain, operate more efficiently and farm more profitability.
The Fram Farmers Trials Day has grown in popularity and become much more comprehensive since it was first held in 2015. This year’s event was in collaboration with BASF, a leading manufacturer of crop protection products, seed specialists Walnes Seeds, together with independent agronomy providers Apex Agronomy and Prime Agriculture.
Visitors were afforded an excellent opportunity to compare 32 varieties of winter wheat growing side by side, providing a valuable insight into their individual attributes. As Amanda Owen, Fram Farmers’ Seed Specialist, explained, choosing which varieties of winter wheat to drill this autumn will be more important than ever before.
“It requires very careful consideration, because the crop represents a major source of revenue for most farms in East Anglia. The task will be made even more challenging this year, because the loss of Deter as an insecticide seed treatment for winter-drilled seed means that farmers now have a very limited choice outside of Single Purpose Dressings. The only control available for BYDV this season will be through crop protection sprays, so it is important to selected varieties with good disease resistance.”
The event also enabled visitors to see some of the latest farm equipment in the dedicated machinery section and drive a selection of vehicles and cars in a separate test area. Fram Farmers’ Arable Inputs Team and Electricity Specialists were also on hand to provide expert advice, together with Fram Farmers Insurance, the cooperative’s specialist insurance business, and key suppliers.
Instead of paying to attend, exhibitors were asked to donate to one of four charities which Fram Farmers supports, with the aim of raising around £3,000 for The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), You Are Not Alone (YANA), East Anglian Air Ambulance and farm safety foundation Yellow Wellies.
A new attraction this year were the two panel discussions, ‘Life After Brexit’ and ‘Life After Neonicotinoids’, which proved very popular at a time when farmers face numerous challenges. The morning panel, chaired by Richard Anscombe, Chief Executive of Fram Farmers, consisted of Carl Atkin of Terravost and local Dr Dan Poulter, Member of Parliament for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich. The afternoon panel, chaired by agronomist John Clarke, included Dr Alan Dewar of Dewar Crop Protection and Fram Farmers member Andrew Williams of Home Farm Nacton in Suffolk.
“Last year’s Trials Day was very successful and this one even surpassed that, so from our point of view it was very worthwhile,” Matthew Keane, BASF’s Agronomy Manager in Suffolk, stated. BASF used the event to demonstrate the impact of different types of chemistry through targeted trial plots which highlighted the activity of Plant Growth Regulators (PGR) and the efficacy of various fungicides, including its innovative Isopropanole-azole product, Revysol®.
Richard Anscombe added: “I am delighted with the response and feedback from visitors to our 2019 Trials Day. Its success reflected the enormous amount of hard work that my team of professionals invest into what has become a very popular event in the annual farming calendar for existing and prospective members in East Anglia.”