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Stackyard News Jul 07

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First Rural Hubs event at Barbers Livestock Auction

A free of charge workshop was held at Barbers Livestock Auction, Market Drayton on Thursday 28 June with 14 farmers taking advantage of the specialist computer advisers on hand to help them get on top of the paperwork surrounding the Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ) legislation and Cross Compliance.

Left ro right, Pat Pimlott - Staffordshire Rural Hub Co-ordinator, Berni Hutchinson, Managing Partner, Barbers with ADAS Soil Scientists Tony Lloyd and Sheila Royle.

Market Drayton Workshop

The ‘top tips’ of the day, were: ‘use the free of charge PLANET software, be sure of your maths and generate the paperwork for inspections at the same time’.

The seminar was the first joint venture for ADAS, Barbers and two of the West Midlands region’s five Rural Hubs; Staffordshire and Shropshire. “It is another example of the trend to deliver bite-sized amounts of information to farmers that address issues surrounding new or amended legislation in suitable and convenient locations for rural businesses,” says Staffordshire Rural Hub's co-ordinator, Pat Pimlott.

Barbers has built up a reputation of excellence within the livestock industry. With their purpose-built offices, and rural workspaces supporting many firms who trade from the Wednesday auction, Berni Hutchinson of Barbers is keen to use the premises to support the industry in as many ways as possible. Following a meeting with the Rural Hub it became obvious that some of the facilities could easily double as a seminar area, and be a natural venue for events for farmers to attend.

"The venue is ideally situated on the Staffordshire/Shropshire border," says Pat Pimlott, "With the move towards collaboration within the industry, it was natural that Victoria Jones of the Shropshire Rural Hub and myself could support events at Market Drayton for the benefit of both counties.”

“Barbers and the Rural Hubs are very excited about working together,” says Pat. The first joint event was run by ADAS as part of the Defra-funded Environment Sensitive Farming project. “It proved to be an excellent training programme and exceeded all expectations for all attendees,” enthused Pat. “The training was on how to use PLANET, the free software package that helps farmers keep track of how much natural nitrogen is being applied to fields so that they can keep records for the legislative agencies,” she adds.

"We were all able to take advantage of the one-to-one help and advice and load the software, and Sheila Royle and Tony Lloyd of ADAS helped us put a few fields into the system with different crops and fertilisers.  I could really see the benefit of such training to help farmers keep on top of their record keeping in an easy and systematic way. The huge benefit of PLANET is that all the information can be used to forecast nutrient requirements for fields and crops, and be revised retrospectively, therefore enabling information to be entered at a time that suits the farmer. However, the loudest cheer was heard when we pressed a button, and a report was generated for NVZ records."

Tony Turner of ADAS is the Environment Sensitive Farming Regional Coordinator for the West Midlands. “We have been running a series of seminars to help farmers use PLANET which is short for Planning Land Application of Nutrients for Efficiency and the environmenT,” he explained. “These workshops are helping farmers use the software to calculate the nutrients they are adding to the land on a field-by-field basis. PLANET takes the strain out of doing the maths and so reduces the chances of farmers over-applying nutrients to any one field and possibly polluting a ditch or stream.”

Protecting the environment and preventing pollution are now as essential to farming's future as good agronomic and husbandry skills. Participating in the Environment Sensitive Farming project will help farmers meet Cross Compliance requirements, save on inputs and make the most of Environmental Stewardship opportunities at the same time as preventing pollution. All the advice on nutrient, manure, soil, pesticide and waste management is FREE and it comes from some of the country's most respected technical experts.

link Calf Rearing Opportunities for Younger Farmers
link Natural England searches for England's most innovative farmers
link Natural England supports Year of Food and Farming


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