LEAF President's Event 2014

Patrick Barker LEAF Demonstration farmers in Suffolk describes his farm and how the family has enhanced the wildlife on the farm.

07/11/14 Reverse order Timestamp format


  1. Follow updates from next weeks LEAF President's Event on ♯LPE14

    Simon Bull
  2. @LEAFchief talks diversity&resilience in agriculture ahead of next weeks @LEAF_Farming ♯LPE14

    Simon Bull
  3. It's a bright and sunny morning and people are starting to gather for this year's LEAF President's event. Once again HSBC is generously hosting the event at its London HQ in Canary Wharf.

    Simon Bull
  4. I'm Cedric Porter and I'm liveblogging today. If you want to join in the conversation then use ♯LPE14

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  5. ♯LPE14 The title for this year's Live President event is Defining Resilience and Diversity in Agriculture

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  6. The LEAF board met yesterday and went out to supper. In the restaurant was star of song Tom Jones. No one had the courage to go and ask him to join LEAF or at least give us a verse of the Green Green Grass of LEAF. Of course it is NOT UNUSUAL for LEAF to mix with the stars!

    Simon Bull
  7. The LEAF President's Event will be opened by HSBC's head of agriculture Allan Wilkinson. ♯LPE14 and @LEAF_Farming

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  8. I'm just drinking a kale juice from G's - once you've got the taste buds into gear it is rather refreshing and you know it is doing some good. #LPE14

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  9. Just 10 minutes to until the start of this year's LEAF President's event now and people filtering through to the venue. There are 140 people coming today including farmers, retailers, food processors, policy makers and academics. Join in the debate at #LPE14

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  10. LEAF CEO Caroline Drummond calls the throng into the hall and they all dutifully following including farmer David Rose who spoke last year. #LPE14

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  11. HSBC's Allan Wilkinson has had his G's Kale Juice and is ready for the off. #LPE14

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  12. Allan welcomes LEAF for the fourth time to what he calls his humble abode - it houses 9,000 people and has 1,000 visitors every day visiting 42 floors.

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  13. We are happy to help LEAF move forward says Allan as he introduces LEAF President Hazel Byford

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  14. Hazel says she has to disappear at lunchtime to vote in the House of Lords, but she thanks speakers and delegates in advance #LPE14

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  15. Sustainability of soil has become such a key issues that everyone is talking about. Hazel thanks LEAF board member Robert Kynaston who is stepping down after many years

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  16. Red tape is a challenge and as a Government it is our responsibility to reduce the burden says Hazel. She moves to referring to WW1. A third of workforce went to fight which allowed 98,000 to work on farm. A memorial was recently opened to land girls of both wars #LPE14

    Simon Bull
  17. WW1 poster said Food Don't Waste 100 years on the message is the same. With the rest of the county the event will have a 2 minute silence at 11am #LPE14

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  18. Hazel hands to Stephen Fell who says we are in an extraordinary year of change from the horrors of 2012 to the perfect growing conditions of 2014. Autumn Glory gives us much to be grateful for. But still plenty of challenges with pressure on what is called intensive agriculture. But we are resilient and resilience through diversity is a key feature of LEAF. It is a unique support system for the whole of agriculture. #LPE14

    Simon Bull
  19. Soil is so important says Stephen and can be so different farm by farm. #LPE14

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  20. HSBC says there is a 90% difference in costs for the top and bottom beef producers, something that has to be addressed. #LPE14

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  21. Volatility is a key element of the market, but LEAF Marque gives a cushion @leafmarque #LPE14

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  22. Stephen urges wildlife charities to support and endorse LEAF and LEAF Marque #LPE14

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  23. Best open farm sunday every - public flocking in for 'annual farming update' 207k people in 2014 on hundreds of farms. #LPE14

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  24. 2015 will be the 10th anniversary @openfarmsunday #LPE14 and Open Farm Schools is taking off

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  25. Dr Gordon Jamieson of Jon Inness Centre says we all share genetics, but are all slightly different as he opens his speech on crop diversity #LPE14

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  26. Why are peas so different? Mendel led the way but Bateson of JIC took up the baton and develop genetic science. #LPE14

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  27. 1.2 billion people depend on wheat - a global crop with China & India leaden the world. Growth in developing countries #LPE14

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  28. What processing is quicker than many native crops. Double digit growth in urbanising countries. #LPE14

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  29. Weather is changing in UK and elsewhere. Temp is increasing and conditions more variable #LPE14

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  30. Volatility is causing political unrest. 3 square meals from revolution. Wheat is vital #LPE14

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  31. Climate shift has been linked to 5.5% decline in world wheat production. Temp still rising over time #LPE14

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  32. Higher temps could reduce wheat yield by 20-30% by 2050 says SIMMIT #LPE14

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  33. Wheat is a unique natural cross of three wild relatives. Gord JJ now moves on to Sex. #LPE14

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  34. Wheat sex involves Meiosis leading to seeds. Wheat has complex DNA

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  35. Human DNA is 2 metres long laid out, wheat DNA is 11 metres - far more complex. #LPE14

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  36. Wheat breeding is about untangling the mass of DNA string. Gord J shares good visuals. #LPE14 presentations will be on LEAF site

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  37. Temps above 35 deg are bad for wheat development already causing probs in S Europe. UK has had temps of 38+ #LPE14

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  38. Conventional wheat breeding breaking down as temp rises. Varieties have little variation. Focus on yield.

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  39. Challenge is to increase diversity and resilience in wheat. Lots of 'wheat islands' around the world that are diverse #LPE14

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  40. Work by Brit Watkins in 1930s mean there are 120 priceless varieties collected. #LPE14

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  41. JIC, NIAB TAG, academics and wheat breeders working on diversity and resilience. #LPE14

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  42. Do we have time to develop new types? Conv breeding takes 8 yrs for new variety

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  43. Gordon finishes and we prepare for 2 minute silence. More than 170,000 farmers fought in WW1 says NFU and more than half a million farm horses were sent to the front. The number of tractors by the end of the war was 6,000. #LPE14

    Simon Bull
  44. To follow the work of John Innes Centre see @johninnescentre Gordon Jamieson urges lobby groups to embrace new technology as food become more important. He condemns the precautionary principle and says wheat must be protected. #LPE14

    Simon Bull
  45. Grant Walling of JSR starts to address livestock diversity - @jsrfarminggroup. When did selection start - Bakewell was the grandfather of animal genetics. After his death diversity reduced along with the quality of meat. JSR began breeding in 1957 when there was a focus on productivity and efficiency. Jump forward to 1990 and data systems helped push breeding and so robustness, reproduction and product quality were added to yield and efficiency - 50% more pigs per sow and increase in feed efficiency - up a third. That figure may be held back by ill-thought out welfare restrictions.

    Simon Bull
  46. You can map pig DNA for US$1500. But there is also a focus on housing, welfare and antibiotics. Huge emphasis on feed efficiency as pressure on cereal yields and production increases. Now working with fewer breeds (down from 14 to possibly 3). But loss of breeds is not necessarily a loss of diversity because of complexity of genetics. The challenge to feed the world continues.

    Simon Bull
  47. Now we move to the consumer with Fraser McKevitt of Kantar Worldpanel. We are a period of massive change - even crisis for mainstream retailers as the discounters march on. But we still like shopping, but the average number of shop trips a year has not increased from around 260 a year between 2009 and 2013. Main shops are still on average every 13 days with a similar amount of smaller shops as in 2009.

    Kantar has 30,000 people feeding back what they buy.

    What has really happened is that growth in volume has fallen to just 0.4% with Tesco and Sainsbury's down 3%+ . Grocery inflation down from 9% in 2009 to 0.2% now. Slow growth in all sectors, put some pockets of category growth - half of 250 categories growing and half not. Organic is growing again after a fall in the recession - now 3% stronger than non-organic. Primarily caused by brands with good marketing. There has been less emphasis on organic.

    Other growth includes internet, discounters and some growth in convenience (+1%).

    Simon Bull
  48. What has changed in 2014 is the mainstreaming of Aldi and Lidl. People main shopping in discounters and a wider demographic.

    Fundamental change in the way food being eaten too. Eating while online is the fastest growing way to eat food.

    Simon Bull
  49. We love the thought of home baking, but only 10% of cakes are home-made compared to 40%+ in the 1980s.

    Sandwich is the favourite Brit meal followed by roast, pizza, pasta and soup.

    There is a desire to create and personalise, but products are less diverse.

    Fraser finishes on four points

    Retailers that are winning are doing something different - Aldi, Lidl, Waitrose

    Shoppers realise can do shopping cheaper. Using discounters can reduce weekly shop by £5

    But a focus on value or offering something special is inning shoppers

    Shoppers want something different so if you can offer uniqueness you might be onto a winner.

    Simon Bull
  50. Michael Jack says LEAF concentrates on how food produced. He asks Kantar's Fraser about consumer reaction to how food is produced including GM.

    Fraser says that consumers will often express concern, but reactions don't always bear that out.

    Simon Bull
  51. Alec Waugh of millers association says best farmers are still increasing wheat yields - is best practice the way forward?

    Gord Jamieson of JIC says that yields are not filtering through to some farms with an over-emphasis on the Recommended List.

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  52. Fraser says retailers have changed from maximising the price and return of products to offering value.

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  53. Gordon Jamieson describing how there are 2 metres of DNA in the average human, but 11 metres in wheat

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  54. Patrick Barker a Suffolk LEAF Demonstration farmer describes the importance of wildlife on the farm, while producing high quality crops. He has gone from being a farmer to a conservationist. The farm won a Farmers weekly Award in 2010 which helped give him and brother Brian belief in what they are doing. He thinks that LEAF gives a great platform for modern environmentally sensitive farming.

    We have farming stereotypes, but the farm is moving with the times using technology while reducing environmental impact.

    Simon Bull
  55. Dr Grant Walling describes how pig breeding has been transformed by genetics and data

    Simon Bull
  56. Retailing is changing, says Fraser McKevitt of Kantar. People are not really shopping any less, but they do want value and difference.

    Simon Bull
  57. Patrick Barker works closely with care homes, farms to show that the farm is biodiverse while still producing a lot of food. He ends by expressing his concern that we are losing species and farmers have a key role to play in preventing that.

    Simon Bull
  58. LEAF CEO Caroline Drummond is now looking at Diversity in Diets referring to her Health by Stealth Nuffield Scholarship.

    We have a crisis of obesity malnutrition with 1.6 billion overweight in the world. WHO target is to reduce 25% reduction in communicable disease. A change in relationship with food - producing and eating more of the right food - is needed. As a farmers do we produce food or commodities?

    Still a disconnect between consumers and producers. In 1903 there was much more diversity in crop types. 75% of global food supply comes from 12 plant types and 5 animal species - concentration on wheat, rice and maize.

    #LPE14

    Simon Bull
  59. Caroline

    The community benefits of wellness. That requires a change in consumer understanding and more engagement by farmers. In France a community effort to lose weight, eat a little more fruit has had success.

    LEAF improves production by integrated farm management and has led to way in involving the consumers in understanding where there food comes from. The next challenge is to help bring together the health and wellness aspects of food and farming production. Caroline's Nuffield report is on the LEAF website. #LPE14

    Simon Bull
  60. Andrew Francis is the Senior Farms Manager at the 22,500 acre Elveden Estate in Suffolk. It is a LEAF Demonstration Farm.

    There is more pressure on production from customer demands, weather and regulations. There is no one size fits all. LEAF network of events and farm is a great way of seeing what might work on the estate.

    There is a long history of crop trials on the estate which help the farm benchmark. At least every five years there is a return to basics to just understand what is being done with each crop and see what is working and what is not.

    Irrigation is becoming a key issue with a lot of work being done to use water more efficiently and cope with more intense periods of rain and drought.

    Irrigators can still work hand in hand with wildlife with large wheeled boom types traveling over nesting birds and not disturbing them.#LPE14

    Simon Bull
  61. Andrew says there is a focus on greenhouse gas emissions with tractor emissions down 10%.

    Loss of chemicals means that using stale seedbeds - blanket killing of weeds - is still important, but vision guidance hoes and a band sprayer approach applying pesticides, herbicides and fertiliser in one go is used.

    Wildlife

    Elveden has 15% of the UK's Stone Curlew population, while it is home to a verity of other birds and at least four deer species.

    Gamekeepers really understand wild birds and take their needs into account when breeding game birds including protecting chicks when fieldwork is taking place.

    There has been steady growth in the number of bird species over the last few years.

    There is a team approach to the staff with inductions .

    What is a farmer these days:

    Safety officer

    Leader

    Banker

    Teacher

    Agony Aunt

    Banker

    Simon Bull
  62. LEAF's Alice Midmer introduces the new LEAF Integrated Farm Management Guide. LEAF has a long history of pioneering IFM both in the UK and around the world.

    The nine elements of IFM are water, landscape and nature, community engagement, organisation and planning, soil, crop health, pollution control, animal husbandry and energy efficiency. These are at the heart of the new guide which has been devised with consultation with a wide range of farmers, academics, crop and animal specialists.

    An IFM flyer is available to everyone, but the essential guide is only available to LEAF members. See the website www.leafuk.org for more. #LPE14

    Simon Bull
  63. Caroline Drummond welcomes Shropshire farmer Robert Kynaston to the stage. He's a LEAF board member and demo farmer and is stepping down from his board role after 7 years.

    He has been a great supporter and advocate - "He's outstanding in his field' says Caroline.

    Simon Bull
  64. Caroline now introduces the LEAF Marqued lunch cooked by HSBC's Compass caterers.

    The farmers who provided the lunch are:

    Frogmary

    Carroll's Heritage Potatoes

    Florette

    G's Fresh

    The Watercress Company

    Farrington Mellow Yellow

    Leicestershire Handmade Cheese Company

    Elveden


    Compass created this Poppy display made from macaroons in remembrance


    Simon Bull
  65. The chefs were surrounded by delegates congratulating them and debate chairman Tom Heap is now thanking head chef Simon Webb and pastry chef Alice Ross. #LPE14

    Simon Bull
  66. Tom says there are farmers who are matching the needs of farming production and environmental and the media is not good at recognising that.

    The debate is entitled Shaping the Future - Building diversity for more resilient farming.

    On the panel are JIC's Gordon Jamieson, Grant Walling of JSR, Patrick Barker (Sug=ffolk LEAF farmer), Andrew Francis of Elveden Estates, Caroline Drummond and LEAF Chairman Stephen Fell

    Eating less meat would help says Gordon Jamieson. Criticised by a farmer, he says that meat eating is a global issue and in some places meat production is out of balance.

    Grant Walling says that growth in markets including China has a massive impact. The Asian middle class is looking for better meat. Eating less meat can reduce the essential byproducts such as mare and leather in vulnerable environments.

    Livestock production is here to stay, but we need to get more efficient.

    Simon Bull
  67. Stephen Fell makes the case for grass - use that resource better.

    A delegate says that there is a quality issue and that grass fed beef is more sustainable and better quality. Grant says provided you are not growing grass on cereal land.

    A Swindon farming delegate asks about greenhouse emissions. Caroline says climate change challenge is a big target while farmers deal with weather so it is about building steps to make improvements. LEAF are now looking at GHGs.

    Andrew of Elveden says it is about feeding efficiency back to the tractor seat so that the driver can use diesel more effectively.

    Simon Bull
  68. Mike Bunny of Warks Wildlife Trust throws carbon capture into the mix.

    Stephen says stocking of uplands is critical. Headage payments and then Single Farm Payments have skewed animal production on the uplands.

    Dave Roberts of SRUC and LEAF director makes a plea for more integration between crop and animal breeders. Grant Walling agrees and promises to do better. Gordon J agrees there is a challenge and says that focusing on plant breeding for humans should have some animal benefits. Grant asks for a soya replacement while Gordon says that there should be more focus on pulses.

    Simon Bull
  69. Suffolk farmer Richard Symes praises farmer passion, but criticises the food processors for turning crops and stock into junk foods.

    Caroline says farmers need to embrace the opportunity to understand more about human nutrition. Everyone needs to take more responsibility.

    Andrew says that they take staff to processing units which increases understanding among them and processors.

    Caroline suggests that farmers should be examples of good health and eating. Irish programme conducted health checks on farmers to give them support.


    Simon Bull
  70. CAP should encourage healthier eating which would be good for farmers too.

    Louise Manning of the Royal Ag Univ says we have made omnivores vegetarians. Will this change?

    Grant Walling says it is not surprising that there is opposition to feeding animal protein to animals. But Louise says the issue is in Africa and Asia and not rich Europe. She mentions eating insects - a whole new meaning to eat your grub up!

    Simon Bull
  71. Alison Cross, Hants Wildlife Trust. How much do you feel you could achieve without grants and support in biodiversity terms.

    Patrick says pre-schemes in 1920s farms were wildlife rich. Biggest concern those that turn back on schemes could ruin it for others. Often about the guidance schemes give too.

    Generational thing. Those farmers who were incentivised to farm still farm in that way.


    Simon Bull
  72. David Rose, Notts farmer re Let Nature Feed Your Senses. How important is care farming?

    Caroline says progress still being made, local health authority partnerships need to be developed.

    Patrick says that partnership with care home is key with access to countryside a selling point for the home.

    Simon Bull
  73. Tom Heap asks question about pesticide regulations particularly aimed at farmers.

    Andrew says lack of products and restrictions is an issue and they have explored need for new ways of control. But with few products available the threat of resistance grows.

    Patrick says that this year has seen a lot of insects and pollinators because of the weather and control has to be seen from a longer term perspective.

    Simon Bull
  74. HSBC's Allan Wilkinson says about the economics of farming. Lower prices will mean that input use will decline, but in the longer term prices will be volatile.

    Andrew from Elveden says efficiency leads to resilience.

    Tom asks about the size of operation.

    Grant Walling says size is important, while integration is also very important. But there is a need for an improved futures market.

    Patrick says it is a question of proportion - good budgeting and matching machinery requirement with area.

    Stephen Fell says some arable operations are too big with a loss of attention to detail in some cases.

    Simon Bull
  75. Ian Glenn international consultant asks about soil protection.

    Stephen Fell highlights min-till of many LEAF farmers. Soil fertility is definitely an issue for many and LEAF does have some of the answers and is encouraged by focus on soil.

    Elveden's Andrew trumpets the use of organic matter.

    Grant says anyone who wants to use pigs as a break crop should give him a call, while Andrew wants more pig muck, but not the pigs.

    Simon Bull
  76. Stephen Fell says time is ripe for young farmers to run large flocks of sheep on land where farmers want a break. Allan says HSBC is open to talking about share farming.

    The Europe question rears its head.

    Gordon J says idea working together is great, but level of regulation is a problem.

    Grant says things we do well in UK in science especially genetics. We need to contribute to world ag science. Not worth considering being out of Europe

    Caroline says partnership element in Europe is critical. Opportunities are tremendous.

    Andrew says Europe model should work, but doesn't. Big worry about not having EU staff.

    Simon Bull
  77. Tom asks about genetic diversity.

    Grant says don't confuse loss of breeds with loss of diversity - we think that different colours means more diversity in animals, but colours, horns etc are just one trait.

    Tom thanks the panel as he wraps up.


    Simon Bull
  78. HSBC's Food and Ag Adviser Rt Hon Michael Jack sums up.

    100 years ago getting supplies under difficult conditions was the key as it was in WWII. But that gives us a backdrop to the challenges today.

    A challenge debate and discussion.

    Price still drives the consumer says Kantar. But what about the story? Farmers still need to know more about the consumer. Taking farm staff to meet processors and engage with consumers is vital.

    UK has benefit of science-based farming industry. Volatility is a massive issue for farming and we need international solutions. Being a partner with the rest of Europe is vital to manage global risks. The CAP has moved some way, but still needs to go further in making EU farming resilient. It is a challenge where LEAF can lead.

    Simon Bull
  79. Stephen Fell thanks the speakers, HSBC and the LEAF team and sums up the benefits of LEAF in delivering Integrated Farm Management, Community Engagement and Knowledge Transfer. #LPE14

    Simon Bull