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.
Tell 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.
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.