Adam Henson points to future role of contracts

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BBC Countryfile presenter Adam Henson believes that the establishment of contracts involving farmers, processors and input suppliers can provide farmers with the security they need to put their businesses on a long term, viable 

“This is one way of allowing production agriculture to cope with the challenge of volatility,” he

Henson visited this week’s SIMA Show in Paris, where he met up with Farming Life’s Richard Halleron.

“I also believe that farmers must invest in new technology in order to drive efficiency. In our own case we have joined forces with a neighbouring farmer, which has allowed us to effectively double our arable acreage. In tandem with this we have committed to make more and effective use of precision farming techniques, including variable rate seeding and fertiliser application systems.

“And it has worked. Over the past three years we have managed to drive down our cost of production by 10%.”

Henson manages a 1,600 acre tenancy in the Cotswolds. The arable enterprise is centred on the growing of winter wheat, winter barley, spring barley and oilseed rape. He also has an expansive livestock enterprise, which includes flocks of rare breed sheep. These are the focus of his Cotswolds Farm Park, which attracts 100,000 visitors annually.

“We use electronic identification as our core management tool for the sheep flocks,” he said.

“It is such a flexible and effective way of storing performance related information on all our ewes and lambs. I cringe when I think back to the days when we ran around with sheets of paper trying to monitor flock performance manually.

“There are many ways in which the new, smart technologies can help farmers improve the performance of their businesses. And I would encourage farmers in Northern Ireland to actively embrace them.”

Henson said that Countryfile has no plans to come to Northern Ireland at the present time.

“But that could change very quickly. We are always working about three weeks ahead of our broadcasting date. So if anyone in Northern Ireland has an idea that would make a good feature for the programme we would be more than happy to come over and film it,” he said.