RASE President’s Day 2017 & Awards Ceremony

Goodwood Estate, 12th December 2017

We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2017 RASE Bledisloe Gold Medal are the Goodwood Estate in West Sussex where this year’s President’s Day will be kindly hosted.

For further information about the day, please contact Emily Stillwell via emilys@rase.org.uk.

The Society is very proud of the Awards Programme presented each year and it continues to be greatly valued by the Industry.

We are delighted to announce the champions of the 2018 Awards as follows:

Bledisloe Gold Medal for Landowners – Goodwood Estate, West Sussex

National Agricultural Award – Rosie Carne, Yara

Excellence in Practical Farming – Peter Bennett, Babraham Farms, Cambridge

Research Medal – Cristobal Uauy, John Innes Centre

Technology Medal – Euan Caldwell, James Hutton Institute

Talbot-Ponsonby Prize for Agricultural Valuation – Charlotte Rogerson

RASE continues to award a number of Student and Long Service Awards each year.

The Society is also delighted to sponsor the Farm and Small Woodlands Award in cooperation with the Royal Forestry Society.

– CHANGING OF THE GUARD –

Henry Cator retires as RASE Chairman

It is with heartfelt gratitude that we pay tribute to our retiring Chairman, Henry Cator for the sterling leadership he has bestowed upon the Society during his time as Chair. Henry’s dedication and determination have made a significant difference to the Society during challenging times and without Henry’s vision, hard work and tenacity the Society would not have survived or regained its’ self-esteem.  We are immensely proud of Henry’s achievements and we wish him all the very best in his future endeavours.

RASE welcomes Dr Chris Tufnell as the new Chairman.

It is with great pleasure that we welcome Dr Chris Tufnell as the new Chairman of RASE.

Chris developed his passion for agriculture growing up in an extended farming family in Hampshire and worked during all his school and university holidays on farms. Naturally he spent most of his time with livestock; lambing, milking, calf rearing and showing cattle but also found time for some harvest work and even spent time on a citrus farm in Zambia. Having completed a year farming on the Isle of Mull and in Hampshire he completed the one year Certificate in Farming at Cirencester and then went to Newcastle University to study Agricultural and Environmental Science gaining Honours in Animal Science with a dissertation on dairy cow nutrition. On graduation he spent a short while managing a dairy farm in Zambia before returning to Glasgow Vet School for five years. Whilst at vet school Chris worked on the future of farm animal practice and continued to develop his interest in farm animal welfare. Chris’ first job as a veterinary surgeon was in rural Herefordshire in farm practice where the scourge of TB resulted in testing four days a week. During his veterinary studies and shortly afterwards Chris travelled to India and Africa working with charities working with dairy cattle, goats and working horses and donkeys. Chris now lives near Newbury in Berkshire with his wife Nicola and sons, Harry and Hector running his own five vet equine and pet veterinary practice. He is the immediate past President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and is the current Senior Vice President and is also the Chairman of the Greenham & Crookham Commons Commission. Chris continues to chair the RCVS Brexit Taskforce working with DEFRA to ensure the continuation of the veterinary workforce after Brexit with particular regard to farm animal practice.

“I am delighted to take over the Chair of RASE from Henry Cator following his impressive partnership with David Gardner. I believe that the role of the Society in translating the best of agricultural science into the field is as important now as it was when it was first set up. I look forward to working with everyone involved in ensuring that we deliver on that role”

 

Grassland survey shows science pays

Farmers are taking a more measured and scientific approach to their grassland, leading to reduced fertiliser usage, but there is still plenty more that they can do, according to new survey results.

Organised by the Grassland & Muck Event, the survey reveals that more farmers are analysing their soil and manure than ever before, with an increasing proportion also taking professional advice on variety choice. However, there is still a huge opportunity for farmers to make more of their grassland, with only 14% regularly measuring grass growth and 29% still not producing a nutrient or manure management plan.

“The last time we conducted this survey was in 2011, and it’s encouraging to see how farmers’ attitudes have changed,” says Alice Bell, head of technical events and organiser of Grassland & Muck. “Of particular note is a more scientific approach to manure and slurry usage: 14% of respondents now use laboratory analysis against 9% in 2011 and the proportion basing nutrient content on personal assumption has dropped 37% to 20%.”

As a result, 29% of respondents have reduced nitrogen fertiliser usage, 24% are using less phosphate and 21% have cut potash applications. “The cost savings from making better use of manure are considerable,” says Ms Bell. “But it’s also interesting to note that between 15% and 19% of farmers have increased fertiliser use, based on soil analysis, to improve grass quality and yield.”

Even so, there’s plenty more that farmers can do to exploit the true potential of their grassland, warns Nigel Hester, area manager at Yara. “Many are still not soil testing frequently enough, measuring grass yields or investing in the best grass varieties where an effective balanced crop nutrition programme will help achieve high yields of nutritious forage.”

Some 70% of respondents admitted to never measuring their grass, and 14% said they never tested their soils. However, on the plus side, 62% said they do test their soils every five years or less, with the majority reseeding leys every six years or less. “The top reasons for reseeding are poor silage crop or low yield (49%), rotation (37%) and weeds (33%),” says Ms Bell.

The number of producers using the Recommended List when selecting grass and clover varieties has increased slightly to 46%, with those taking agronomist’s advice up from 31% to 36%. “This suggests that farmers are paying more attention to variety selection – in fact, the proportion who simply choose the variety they grew before has halved, to just over 6%.”

Interestingly, considerably more farmers than before are spreading slurry and manure on arable land – 49% compared to 34% in 2011. “Arable producers are increasingly turning to more traditional methods to combat rising input costs and falling soil organic matter,” explains John Williams, principal soil scientist at ADAS. “Many are now opting to return grass and livestock to the enterprise mix, which is something that we will be exploring in more detail at this year’s Grassland & Muck Event.”

  • The Grassland & Muck Event will be held at Stoneleigh from 24-25 May. Tickets are now on sale and visitors can save £4 per adult ticket by purchasing in advance. John Williams will be speaking on manure management to maximise nutrient use efficiency at 14.30 on both days at the forum theatre. For more information visit grasslandevent.co.uk

Visit to Thurlby Grange – Winner of the 2016 Excellence in Business & Practical Farming Award

There is nothing wrong with our soil except our interference…..’

-Edward Faulker. From the Ploughman’s Folly (1943)

A sincere thank you to Tony Reynolds and the team at Thurlby Grange for a superb and successful member visit.

Since 1975, with no less than 3 generations currently working on the family farm, Thurlby Grange is a superb example of conservation agriculture (no till) at its’ best and we were delighted to visit the 2016 winner of the RASE Excellence in Business & Practical Farming Award.

With a number of other Conservation Agriculture farmers, Tony has formed an Association, CA-UK, to share and promote knowledge and experience in the UK and linking to the European CA Organisations.

Conservation agriculture (CA) can lead to increased soil fertility and productivity, to a more efficient use of water, and to an improved ability to adapt to and mitigate climate change, as well as to a significant reduction in erosion, lower emissions of greenhouse gases and ammonia and the optimal use of agrochemicals.

Members enjoyed an informative introduction by Tony followed by a tour of  Thurlby Grange allowing the opportunity to see the benefits of conservation agriculture first hand. At the end of the day Members enjoyed networking over the delightful lunch that was awaiting their return.

If you would like to learn more about the work Tony is involved in you can do so via: www.conservation-agriculture.co.uk

Visit to Eastbrook Farm – Winner of the 2016 RASE National Agricultural Award

A huge thank you to Helen Browning and her sterling team for a thoroughly enjoyable and informative visit to Eastbrook Farm.

Organically farming since 1986, this fabulously quirky farm was thoroughly deserving of the 2016 RASE National Agricultural Award.

A tour of Eastbrook’s diverse enterprises included dairy; dairy bred beef/veal and heifers; pigs from farrow to finish; arable (wheat, barley, oats, pulses) and sheep.

The day was rounded off at the award winning Royal Oak pub whereby members were spoilt with a superb lunch.

If you missed out on the visit, you can find out more about Helen’s story and enterprise via: www.helenbrowningsorganic.co.uk

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