Frogmary Green Farm Joins Network of LEAF Demonstration Farms

We are delighted to welcome Frogmary Green Farm as a LEAF Demonstration Farm. LEAF’s nationwide network of over 40 LEAF Demonstration Farms showcase the very best of sustainable farming practices.

Nick and Claire Bragg run Frogmary Green Farm, a 500 acre poultry and arable farm, based on the edge of South Petherton in Somerset.  The farm also grows potatoes for supermarkets and maize and grass for fodder.  Frogmary Green Farm joined LEAF in 2008, became LEAF Marque certified in 2013 and regularly hosts both Open Farm Sunday and Open Farm Schools Days.

Frogmary LDF Launch

From Left to Right: Lord Cameron of Dillington (Dillington Farms), Nick Bragg (Frogmary Green Farm) , Patrick Wrixon (LEAF Board member), Claire Bragg (Frogmary Green Farm) and Caroline Drummond (LEAF Chief Executive)

Speaking at a lovely LEAF Demonstration Farm Launch event yesterday, Nick explained, “LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management (IFM) approach is all about striving to achieve balance across the whole farm. We’re working hard in lots of practical ways to conserve and enhance the natural environment by planting trees, creating wetland areas and cutting our carbon footprint.  All of us on the farm care deeply about our precious environment and want to do all we can to enhance it whilst producing food to the highest welfare and environmental standards.  “We are also passionate about bringing people onto the farm, to share what we are doing and help to break down some of the barriers that exist between producers and consumers.”

Frogmary Green Farm was officially welcomed to the network during yesterday’s event which included the planting of a large leaved lime tree by Lord Cameron of Dillington who spoke of the great work Nick and Claire are doing.

A short tour of the farm included a visit to one of the chicken houses, where one of Frogmary Green Farm’s main ‘crops’ can be seen through a viewing gallery. Nick and Claire were the first to install a biomass woodchip boiler for heating chicken houses, utilising locally sourced timber. Other discussions included potato production and more about their ongoing commitment to environmental enhancement such as through the planting of some 4 kilometres of hedgerows and over 500 trees since 2002. Pollen and nectar margins to provide extra habitat for bumblebees and other insects have also been established.  This has resulted in a huge variety of wildlife making its home at Frogmary Green Farm including cuckoo, linnet, song thrush, swift and whitethroat.

Nick and Claire Bragg Frogmary Green Farm, LEAF's latest demonstration farm

Nick and Claire Bragg,  Frogmary Green Farm, the latest LEAF Demonstration Farm

As a LEAF Demonstration Farm, Frogmary Green Farm will act as a ‘living classroom’ demonstrating and promoting the principles of Integrated Farm Management to opinion formers, educationalists, politicians, consumers and conservation groups as well as to community groups and local schools.

LEAF Demonstration Farms play a hugely vital role in sharing best practice amongst farmers as well as being a great way to help educate the public about how modern food production can co-exist with protecting nature and the countryside.  Frogmary Green Farm is an excellent example of sustainable farming in action and represents what Integrated Farm Management is all about.

If you are interested in visiting Frogmary Green Farm, or another LEAF Demonstration Farm, to learn more about Integrated Farm Management in practice, please get in touch with the LEAF office:

EISA Farm Visit to Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Paul Hayward - Cold Harbour farm (credit Adrian Legge)

Paul Hayward – Cold Harbour farm
(credit Adrian Legge)

Paul Hayward, farms Cold Harbour Farm, at Bishop Burton, East Yorkshire and was one of the first LEAF Demonstration Farms, engaging people with Integrated Farm Management since 1993, soon after LEAF was founded. Paul recently took part in an EISA (European Initiative for Sustainable Development in Agriculture) visit to Germany and here he tells us more about what he saw and learnt.

Last month, I was privileged to join the EISA visit to Germany as an observer for LEAF along with Patrick Wrixon (LEAF Board member) and Nick Tilt (LEAF Demonstration Farmer). The whole event was perfectly organised by Andreas Frangenberg and Anton Kraus from EISA.

We attended the DLG field day, an event targeted at crop production professionals, of note it was targeted at the top 20% of farmers. The following link gives a very accurate resume of the visit.

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Credit Helena Elmquist

It was a fascinating visit with some excellent and very informative presentations and I left wanting to explore the issues much further. Representatives from the agrochemical companies seemed to position the farmers as requiring a complete production package including biodiversity rather than recognising them as land managers with good knowledge. We were privileged to be joined by Professor Olaf Christen (agronomy and organic farming) of Halle University, obviously a talented academic with a good practical understanding of European crop production.

The following day we were given a guided tour of the BASF Biodiversity Farm at Quellenhof by Dr Markius Gerber. A project started in 2012 on the 10, 600 hectare farm which had lost much of its natural habitats in the East German era. Work on a range of measures had started with some impressive results. However, with fields of 250 hectares, there is much still to do.

 

The group enjoyed a wide range of discussions, benefitting from the diversity of the area and the interests of individuals within the group.

For more information on EISA, please visit http://sustainable-agriculture.org/

Open Farm Sunday 2014 – one month on!

Annabel Shackleton (left) pictured with Owen Paterson MP, Environment Secretary and Josephine Davies at Longslow Farm’s Open Farm Sunday Event

Annabel Shackleton, Open Farm Sunday manager at LEAF, reflects on Open Farm Sunday, one month on.

Hours of planning, inspiration, preparation and hard work all came together on Open Farm Sunday 2014.

One month on, and LEAF is proud to confirm that 2014 was another record-breaking year.  375 farms opened their gates to the public welcoming over 207,000 visitors to discover more about how their food is produced.

We are continuing to collate feedback, figures and stats from farmers and visitors alike. Individuals so appreciative of the events and activities farmers organised to showcase British farming and food.  Farmers so proud of what they achieved and delighted to see their staff and helpers sharing their passion for the industry with their local communities.  Teachers and school children enthused to be out on farms and being inspired by their visit.

Looking back over the past month, it is worth reminding ourselves the impact Open Farm Sunday has on farmers, the public, our communities and the wider industry.

Open Farm Sunday provides a wonderful opportunity to experience farming first hand

First and foremost, Open Farm Sunday reaches out to so many people who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to visit a farm. It welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds and gives them a wonderful opportunity to experience farming first hand. For some it will have been their first visit to a farm.  For many, it will have inspired them to think a little bit more about their food and what goes into producing it.   It will have encouraged some to make changes to what they buy and what they feed their children – hopefully seeking out more local, British and sustainably produced food.  We hope it will have helped engender a greater respect for food, the farmers who produce it and the role farmers have as custodians of our precious countryside.

Open Farm Sunday also brings communities together encouraging farmers to work with neighbouring farmers, industry suppliers, local groups and individuals to share what they do.  Once again it has been a fabulous opportunity to showcase all that farmers and industry does to produce great food in sustainable ways which safeguard our environment.

So whilst the visitors may have gone home, the machinery put away and the farm returns ‘to normal’ the impact of Open Farm Sunday will remain long after we close the gates – until next year!

On behalf of the LEAF Team a huge thank you to the 6,000 farmers and their helpers who took part this year to make this the best Open Farm Sunday yet.  Our thanks also to our wonderful sponsors, who’s support make it all possible:  Asda, BASF, Country Life butter, Defra, Farmers Weekly, Frontier Agriculture, John Deere, Kellogg’s, LEAF Marque, Marks and Spencer, National Farmers Union, Syngenta, Tesco, The Co-operative, Waitrose, plus Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board support from BPEX, DairyCo, Eblex, HDC and HGCA divisions, plus Hellmann’s.

Next year will be the 10th anniversary of Open Farm Sunday so put the 7th June 2015 in your diary now so we can make the celebrations even bigger!

OFS 2014 Principal Sponsor logos

 

Top Tips for selling your message at Open Farm Sunday

David Jones, Morley Farms Ltd

David Jones, Morley Farms Ltd

In the final of our fortnightly series of posts all about Open Farm Sunday and engaging the public on your farm, David Jones,  Open Farm Sunday Co-ordinator for the Eastern region, tells us how he engages the public on his farm at Open Farm Sunday.

“This is a Golden Opportunity”

 As the big day draws near it is time to double-check everything is ready. There are only so many things that can be done last-minute.

At most Open Farm Sunday events the support from helpers is vital. It is important however that before the day they know how they are expected to contribute to the event. For example car park helpers (the clue is in the title) but do they know what to do if there are more cars than expected or if there is a request for wheel chair access? Helpers with stalls/refreshments do they need tables or power, farm buildings were never built with tea urns in mind!

People are always willing to help but don’t want to be lumbered with being on duty all day without a break. Have a rota and/or make provision for them to get something ‘free’ to eat and drink. Do you need a voucher system to get free drinks – the last thing you need is a disgruntled helper.

Helpers with speaking parts are the most important way of getting your message across to the visitors. This is a golden opportunity not to be missed.

Here are my 5 top tips to getting the messages across to visitors:

1. Location

Location is importantConsider where you are going to stand. If talking about cows in a cubical shed, put a cow there and have a temporary gate so she stays near you. If talking about oil seed rape cut a pathway into the crop so people are in and amongst it (a 50m X 3m path way would cost only £18 in lost crop).

2. Being heard

Find locations with less back ground noise. Consider using a mega phone or speaker system. These can be hired/bought/borrowed (from schools, scout group for example). When speaking, face your visitors – they will have more chance of hearing what you say.  Ask visitors questions, engage them in a conversation rather than talking at them.

3. Props

Make the link with food.  Whilst standing in the oilseed rape why not have a bottle of oil or mayonnaise so visitors can see the end produce and relate the crop to what they eat. Have a couple of jars with seeds or fertiliser in.  You could have a brick and stone, or pestle and mortar so someone can crush some seeds and see the oil extracted. With livestock have a wheel barrow full of silage and bucket of feed so people can see what you are talking about, they can smell and touch (as appropriate). Have a plough point to hold or some combine parts.    Consider using the ‘mini field concept’ where you talk about the inputs and outputs relating to a square metre of field – see the facts and figures here.

4. Printed materials

Print off some photos as big as you can, laminate if possible. Show what the fields/crops look like at different times of the year. Show how quickly lambs grow week by week.

5. Enough is enough

 Often less is more, don’t waffle on. If you have an awkward visitor with 100s of questions, rather than answering them all during the tour, suggest that they come back later. It is often said that an audience can only take things in for 7 minutes so talk for 6.45 minutes then move on to a new location.

It is a good idea that presenters meet up before 8th June to iron out some of the finer points and it gives time to gather resources.

You may have spent the last  4 months working towards  Open Farm Sunday 2014 and looking forward to 5pm when everyone has gone home but don’t forget to thank the helpers and discuss the day while it is fresh in everyone’s mind – and make notes.  Feedback is important it may just make Open Farm Sunday 2015 a little better but a whole lot easier.


About David

David Jones is a farm manager for Morley Farms Ltd in Norfolk growing 730 hectares of combinable crops and sugar beet. The farm also hosts about 35ha field trials for NIAB TAG, the John Innes Centre, Agrovista and others. Every year the farm has about 800 visitors including school children, students, farmers, consultants and international groups. David has helped and co-hosted several Open farm Sunday events and in 2013 became Regional Coordinator for the eastern region.

 

Engaging visitors at Open Farm Sunday

Tom Allen Stevens, Open Farm Sunday Regional Co-ordinator

Tom Allen Stevens, Open Farm Sunday Regional Co-ordinator

In the tenth of our fortnightly series of posts all about Open Farm Sunday and engaging the public on your farm, Tom Allen-Stevens, South East Open Farm Sunday Regional Co-ordinator, tells us how he engages the public on his farm at Open Farm Sunday.

I don’t much care for BBC’s Countryfile, but there is one part I really enjoy. Ever since they made Adam’s Farm a regular feature, it’s made the programme worth watching.

What makes Adam’s Farm stand out? I think it’s the fact that he’s an actual farmer, talking about something he is passionate about, and it’s usually on his own farm. There’s an honesty about the way he pats his Gloucester bull or grasps an ear of wheat and then tells you about.  It really does make compelling viewing.

But there’s nothing mind-blowingly fascinating about Adam’s Farm – it’s not like he’s trialling a GM crop, forging a solution to TB or inventing a new way in wool. It’s just the ordinary goings on of a Gloucestershire farm. And I think that’s the secret to it, it’s why the programme draws in nine million viewers every week, and what makes 200,000 people visit farms on Open Farm Sunday.

They’ve come to meet the farmer – experience a little of what it’s like to grow food and care for the countryside. So what I always try to do when I’m showing visitors around or explaining something is tell them about my farm from my point of view. I keep it personal and tell them about the things I enjoy, or dread, or what matters to me – it’s when you’re at your most honest, and most comfortable, and I think people really appreciate it.

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I’ve a few key props I always use. Firstly, an apple and a knife. I remember when I was first shown the apple trick, and it just clicked – have a look at the download instructions to find out more. It’s a really great way to tell the farming story.

Also something to taste – I usually cut up some bread and provide some rapeseed oil for people to dip it in. It makes the whole experience more memorable if you engage more of the senses. And then something for them to take away. One thing I found works really well (and it sounds absurd) is to pull up a wheat plant, and then share round the tillers to all the children in the group. We’ll count the grain sites, number of leaves or judge how much disease it’s got. You’ll often find those children still have their special ear of wheat when they leave the farm.

I always try to keep it positive too – there are all sorts of negatives in farming, but Open Farm Sunday is about how my farm’s making a positive contribution to farming. So negatives are banned – it makes you feel much better about yourself if you just concentrate on the positives, and I swear it’s more engaging. If you introduce a bit of magic that helps – everyone knows the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, so why not give a child a bean and suggest it may be a magic one? Or could there be fairies in your wood?

My final rule is to keep it jargon-free. You’d be surprised at the words we use that mean something totally different to non-farmers, or are complete gobbledegook. Headland, drill, for instance. An acre is about the size of a football pitch, a heifer is a female cow and an agronomist a crop doctor.

I think we all admire the way Adam tells us about his farm in such an engaging and open manner. But I think every farmer can do the same – we all have a fascinating story to tell, and we’re at our best when we’re on our own farm telling people about the things that truly matter to us.

Register for Open Farm Sunday here >

Have I got loos for you! Open Farm Sunday Event Progress

Huw Rowlands, North West Open Farm Sunday Regional Co-ordinator

In the ninth of our fortnightly series of posts all about Open Farm Sunday and engaging the public on your farm, Huw Rowlands, North West Open Farm Sunday Regional Co-ordinator, tells us how the planning for his own event is progressing.

Open Farm Sunday has a habit of sneaking up on me.  One day it’s months away and we are thinking about how to get water pipes thawed so the Red Poll cattle can drink, and the next we are wishing we had done more to prepare for the big day with the realisation that cows have nearly all calved, crops are growing, days, like beer from micro-brewers, have become lighter, and almost half a year has slipped by.  This year will be different…

Huw Rolands

Photograph courtesy of Jan Wilson, Brackendale Photography.

We usually offer guided farm walks, which are popular. Visitors enjoy meeting our Red Poll cattle, especially the young calves.  The route for the walks is organised and my script is prepared, helped by strategic landmarks around the farm such as a particular willow tree, a new fence, or even a strategically placed mineral bucket to act as prompts and reminders.  I always include local history, geology, land use, and natural history as well as information about our farming practices so that there is something of interest for everyone.  Plans and offerings for the day from the other organisations involved are also now almost firmed up, and regular email updates ensure that everyone knows what everyone else is doing.   The week before Open Farm Sunday we will all meet in person to ensure that any problems and difficulties foreseen are dealt with, leaving only the unforeseen to react to on the day.  All that remains is to promote our event locally using the free resources provided by LEAF.  There is still plenty of time to order and distribute publicity material from the Open Farm Sunday website if you haven’t already got this far.  We regularly update and amend our entry on the Open Farm Sunday website to ensure that it is current and that there are no disappointed visitors.

Have I Got Loos For You!

Always a concern to those opening their farms on Open Farm Sunday is what to do about toilets for visitors.  Guidance can be obtained from the Health and Safety Executive website and from Farming and Countryside Education. It is worth remembering that Open Farm Sunday is a one-off event and so visitors will not be expecting palatial surroundings in which to perform their ablutions.  You may be happy to let people use the toilet in your house, especially if you are only expecting a small number of visitors and if they are known to you anyway.  Alternatively, you can do as we have successfully done in the past and team up with a local pub or village hall, both of which will boast superior toilet facilities.  They may also help you promote your event and could also be happy to provide parking on the basis that they will benefit from additional customers on the day.  This sort of arrangement also saves on the expense of hiring portable toilets.  Legally, you do not have to provide separate toilets for men and women.  A little bit of thought about how to meet this most basic human requirement will ensure that you end Open Farm Sunday flushed with success.

Catering

A common query about Open farm Sunday is what to do about catering.  You don’t have to provide any, although it can be a good way to make some extra money, add to your visitors enjoyment of the day, and especially to showcase your products if, like us, you sell directly to the public.  The key point to remember is that anyone providing food must by law have an up-to-date basic food hygiene certificate.  They are relatively cheap costing as little as £25 for an online course, so it can even be undertaken from the comfort of your home/office.  Your local authority will be able to advise you further.  Again, teaming up with a local pub can often work well, or you might want to ask a local organisation or charity, such as the Women’s Institute, if they would like to provide catering and give them the opportunity for some fund raising.  My top tip for catering is either keep it simple or delegate it.

Register for Open Farm Sunday here >


About Huw

Huw Rowlands farms at Mickle Trafford, Chester, running a Red Poll suckler herd.  Beef is sold directly from the farm and at farmers markets, and the farm offers educational access visits all year and has recently won an Arriva Community Action Award.  The farm is in Higher Level Stewardship and has 10 ha of poplar plantations as well as rotational stewardship crops aimed at enhancing wildlife on the farm.  Huw is also a rail replacement coach co-ordinator!

 

Activities to engage your visitors on Open Farm Sunday

Andy Guy, Open Farm Sunday Regional Co-ordinator for the East Midlands

Andy Guy, Open Farm Sunday Regional Co-ordinator for the East Midlands

Due to an unfortunate technical glitch and a long weekend of Easter bank holidays, the Open Farm Sunday blog missed its usual Friday afternoon slot! But fear not, here it is! In the eighth of our fortnightly series of posts all about Open Farm Sunday and engaging the public on your farm, Andy Guy our Open Farm Sunday Regional Co-ordinator for the East Midlands, gives us an insight into Open Farm Sunday activities.

If you are reading this blog you have either already decided to open your farm on 8th June this year, or you are seriously thinking about taking the plunge for the first time. Whichever category you fall into, you must have some concerns in your mind; How many visitors will turn up? How do I make sure the farm is safe? Do I have enough to interest people?

The first two have already been talked about in previous blog posts [find them here] so I will talk about how to keep your guests entertained.

The truth is that no matter how plain you might think your farm is, it is a world of new discoveries for most of your visitors. The trick you need to pull off on the big day, is finding clever ways to get your messages across without boring your guests.

The statistics show that around a third of visitors last year were aged less than 11 and a further third were 26-45 years old, so they were the parents! So the majority are families with young children and the key to keeping them happy lies in the young ones. Speaking as a parent myself, I know that if the children are enjoying their day, the parents will be very happy too.

Andy talking to some of his visitors

Andy talking to some of his visitors

There have been all sorts of successful activities on farms in the last eight years. There has been pig racing, sheep shearing, pond dipping, wellie whanging and mini-beast safaris!  Farmers have fallen back on old favourites too. Tractor and Trailer rides, guided walks, demonstrations and talks all work well too.

The most successful activities are those which are interactive. Providing a treasure hunt to keep the youngsters interested on a farm walk will mean that you have a chance to talk to their parents about the way you manage the farm.

Giving the children a card and double sided sticky tape means they can collect the things that surprise them and keep them to show to their families. They can collect wool from the fences, feathers and leaves from the hedgerows, grain and straw from the barn building up a map of their route around the farm.

The list of activities is only limited by your imagination, but they will enhance the experience for the families who visit you on 8th June enormously.

If you come up with any new ideas please tweet them to @OpenFarmSunday with the hashtag #OFS14 and you can tweet Andy directly at @AndyGuy1963

Register your farm online at www.farmsunday.org.


About Andy

Andy is our Open Farm Sunday coordinator in the East Midlands. He is a huge supporter of LEAF and has been involved in Open Farm Sunday since it began in 2006. He was a LEAF Demonstration Farmer for several years but now describes himself as a “Sustainable Farming Consultant”.

Farming: Public Health Benefits

In this post, LEAF Chairman, Stephen Fell, shares his views on farming and public health following a recent Green City Conference.

Part of my own farming business is growing turf, wildflower turf and vegetation mats for green roofs. I have long had an interest in greening urban spaces and have developed a range of products to make that possible. We as farmers who take green space for granted, perhaps forget that over 90% of our population live in urban areas and don’t have ready access to healthy places.

I recently attended a Green City Conference where delegates from around the world debated the benefits of urban green spaces and the issues surrounding the implementation of green infrastructure plans.

What was really interesting was the synergy of thought between what we do in LEAF, in particular through the Let Nature Feed Your Senses programme, and those in the medical and landscape professions speaking at the conference.

Broughton Grounds Farm - Aylesbury College June 2010

A Let Nature Feed Your Senses project visit at Broughton Grounds Farm

Sir Richard Thompson, physician to HM the Queen, concentrated on the health benefits of green spaces. Green gardens in hospitals improve the mood of patients and staff alike “There is a gym outside your window!”. He went through much of the well documented evidence that recovery times are faster and that physical and mental well being is significantly enhanced by access to green, living landscapes. There are huge savings to be made to the NHS budget and architects and builders of hospitals must be made aware of the green benefits. This chimed absolutely with the paper given at LEAF’s recent President’s Event by Gregor Henderson, Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England.

The Landscape Institute represents professional landscape architects. Dr Val Kirby produced their outstanding document ‘Public Health and Landscape‘. It is well worth reading, remembering that we as farmers are landscape architects on a grand scale. The Institute believes that much greater priority needs to be given to prevention of ill health in public and social care. Their challenge was to answer the question: can landscape help create healthy places?

Dr Kirby’s report has an evidence based approach to 5 principles of healthy places. In outlining some of them you will start to see the synergies I mentioned earlier:

Healthy places…

  1. Improve air, water and soil quality, incorporating measures that help us adapt to, and where possible mitigate, climate change.
  2. Help overcome health inequalities and can promote healthy lifestyles
  3. Make people feel comfortable and at ease, increasing social interaction and reducing anti-social behaviour, isolation and stress
  4. Optimise opportunities for working, learning and development
  5. Are restorative, uplifting and healing for both physical and mental health conditions

See what I mean? Integrated Farm Management and Let Nature Feed Your Senses. Town and Country, City and Farmland. Our urban cousins are realising what we have long known – that being out in a green landscape is good for you. It’s much more challenging to create and maintain that green space in the middle of a city, but we as the large scale ‘landscape architects’ have a wonderful opportunity to improve the health of the nation.

By opening our farms, encouraging disadvantaged or convalescing people to experience, see, feel and smell what we can take for granted is a precious gift – perhaps we should all think more about the links between public health and landscape.


stephen-fellStephen Fell is LEAF’s Chairman and Managing Director of the family farming business HR Fell and Sons Ltd, running a flock of 1000 sheep and growing root crops at Thorganby in the Vale of York. He is also Managing Director of Lindum Turf, a business growing and marketing a range of turf and specialist grass and wildflower products.


Introducing… Frontier Agriculture

Michelle Andrews, Frontier’s Public Relations Manager

Michelle Andrews, Frontier’s Public Relations Manager

Frontier is the UK’s leading crop inputs and grain marketing business, recognised for its close customer relationships with farmers and grain consumers and its successful management of the whole arable supply chain.  Frontier operates across all aspects of arable crop production and marketing supplying seed, crop protection products and fertiliser to farmers. They have a team of 115 agronomists providing specialist agronomy advice to farmers.  Frontier have been members of LEAF since 2003 and have been a principal sponsor of Open Farm Sunday since 2007.  Michelle Andrews, Frontier’s Public Relations Manager tells us more about the business and why they support LEAF. 

frontierTell us a bit more about Frontier, what is the secret of your success?

We employ more than 800 staff across 46 sites nationwide, with around 150 of those based at our headquarters in Witham St Hughs, near Lincoln. Our success comes from the expertise of all our employees and it’s vital that we attract and retain the best people, who in turn nurture strong relationships with all of our clients. 

seed bags

You pride yourselves in your dedication to your customers and quality products. How do you achieve this?

Our customers know that they can rely on our people for specialist, expert advice and seamless delivery across the supply chain. Customers build close relationships with their own small team of specialists who get to know the people and the farm so that they can tailor their advice to achieve the best possible outcomes for that particular business.

All of our work is supported by research from a national trials programme that covers 140 hectares on 23 sites, and we have a continuing commitment to researching new techniques and technologies that can improve all aspects of crop production, for example we are now able to use our unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), to map fields and produce detailed images which can be used to highlight specific crop attributes. It offers benefits in a range of areas including crop health monitoring, weed identification, yield estimates and plant counting.

 

Farmers are increasingly having to find innovative ways of responding to the challenges of climate change, how do Frontier view their role in helping farmers do this?

Frontier’s agronomists have always taken an integrated approach to crop production. They consider the impact of the rotation on soil health, the use of different cultivation techniques and soil nutrition, as well as crop variety choices. By taking this wider view they are able to help farmers adapt to changing conditions. As we experience more extreme rainfall events for example, we have been looking at the potential of cover crops to capture nutrients, increase soil organic matter and limit leaching and soil erosion. 

What are farmers looking for in their crop protection products?  How are their needs likely to change in the future?

Quite simply, products need to be effective. Good management of the way they are used on the farm ensures that there is less likelihood of resistance and minimises the impact on the environment, and of course that can often lead to cost savings, which are always welcome. In future we are likely to see the development of new crops which are more disease resistant and readily able to extract more nutrients from the soil.

What does Integrated Farm Management mean to Frontier?

The principles of IFM have been the foundation to our agronomy for many years, and we always looking for new ways to improve the service we offer. The use of a range of crop inputs will always be vital for food production, but these need to be managed by using a wide variety of stewardship methods to compliment them. Our Kings division are experts in conservation and cover crops and advise on all aspects of environmental stewardship. This is also complemented by SOYL who specialise in precision crop production and variable rate technology. This combination of specialist services allows the grower to maximise yields while simultaneously limiting the impact on the environment and encouraging biodiversity across the farm.

Why LEAF and Open Farm Sunday?

Frontier is in the privileged position of knowing the agricultural industry inside out and working with farmers every day of the year. We feel it is vitally important to share that knowledge with the public. The work which LEAF does in managing Open Farm Sunday ensures that people can gain a much better understanding of how agriculture works, and based on that they can make more informed decisions and understand the issues faced by farmers. Additionally, many of Frontier’s staff have their own farms and love having the opportunity to show people what goes into producing the food we eat.


Frontier Agriculture are corporate members of LEAF and principle sponsors of Open Farm Sunday, for more information on corporate membership please click here.

How to run a safe Open Farm Sunday event

Jeremy Padfield, Open Farm Sunday Regional Co-ordinator for the South West

Jeremy Padfield, Open Farm Sunday Regional Co-ordinator for the South West

In the seventh of our fortnightly series of posts all about Open Farm Sunday and engaging the public on your farm, Jeremy Padfield our Open Farm Sunday Regional Co-ordinator for the South West, discusses health and safety for Open Farm Sunday visits and why it doesn’t have to be as dreaded as it often is!

When we first took the decision to open our farm, health and safety was one of my biggest concerns. However, I soon learnt that most of the issues can be resolved with a bit of common sense and preparation.

Number one on the list is to carry out a risk assessment yourself and then get a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ to look around the farm who can pick out maybe one or two hazards that we miss because we see them day in day out. This person could be a neighbouring farmer or someone who is not too familiar with your farm.

A great way of preparing for the big day is to get a map of the farm and buildings. By using a birds eye perspective you can see how the flow of visitors from car park to the various activities is going to work best. It will also highlight where the catering or picnic area (if any) is best located as well as any areas where animals will be situated. It is crucial that these areas are kept well apart and there must be hand washing facilities between the two locations.

The animal areas should be clean and well bedded and anything that your visitor may come into contact with must be clean, such as walkways and gates/ hurdles. Good practice is to have a disinfectant mat or piece of carpet on the entrance, which is a good way of keeping prams and pushchairs clean as well as protecting your livestock!

The animal contact locations should be well supervised with informed staff or volunteers making sure that no one is put at risk to E. coli. Obviously no eating or hand to mouth contact should take place. Visitors should be informed by plenty of signage and verbally from the guys stationed in the area that all (parents and children) must wash their hands when leaving these areas. Watch out also for little Jimmy dropping his dummy and then popping it back in his mouth! Running cold water along with liquid antibacterial soap and paper towels should be supplied.

The ‘bird’s eye’ view of your farm also helps pinpoint high risk areas such as ponds, slurry pits, chemical stores, workshops, grain bin/silos, tractor/trailer areas, electric fences which must be locked or cordoned off with signage and tape.

Having machinery on display is a great crowd pleaser, but make sure that if visitors are allowed onto machines then you have staff supervising this. It is also essential to take the keys out as I remember on our second Open Farm Sunday, when a responsible parent handed us the key to the combine which had hastily been brought out that morning and parked in the yard! Also ensure that any sharp or dangerous parts of machinery are cordoned off to avoid any injury.

Tractor and trailer rides are always popular

Tractor and trailer rides are always popular

Everyone loves the tractor and trailer rides but if you are running this activity then you must ensure that you comply with the current legislation. The main points are that the seating must be fixed, the sides of the trailer should have a hand rail and kick board and no gap big enough for a child to get through and the trailer to have independent braking.

There are two qualifications that will be necessary:

  1. First aid. It is important that someone on site (it doesn’t have to be you) is a first aider who can be available throughout your event.
  2. Food hygiene. If you are serving food then someone must have a food hygiene certificate.

Toilets are pretty important but don’t get too concerned because one loo should be enough for 400 to 500 people as long as they don’t want to use it at the same time!

Finally, you must let your insurance company know that you are hosting the event and ensure that you have adequate public liability (£5 million) cover, but don’t worry, most insurers won’t charge an additional premium for this!

Have a great event!


About Jeremy

Jeremy runs the family farm in the Mendip Hills in Somerset. The farm is predominantly arable along with a beef and an equine business. The farm carries out lots of conservation work and all the land is in HLS and ELS. This is the 7th year that the farm has hosted Open Farm Sunday.