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Record-breaking attendance for Lincolnshire Farming Conference 17 Feb

Innovative technology, mental health and climate change were the key discussion points at the Lincolnshire Farming Conference held last week (11 February) at the Lincolnshire Showground.

Hosted by the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society, the annual conference saw a record-breaking 400 knowledgeable farmers, exhibitors and industry experts come together to discuss this year’s theme, ‘the future is now’, for the agricultural industry.

The one day event, held at the Lincolnshire Showground’s Epic Centre, featured talks from captivating speakers and interactive workshops looking at the future of the agricultural industry, the demands the industry faces from today’s society and why now is the most exciting time to be involved in the farming sector.

Stuart Roberts, vice president for the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), gave the keynote speech and talked about farming beyond Brexit, the importance of climate change and urged farmers to look after one another and their mental health.

Stuart said: “Now is the most exciting time to be a farmer and we are on the cusp of a transformational time for this industry. Farming is now beginning to address some of the big issues facing our society, including mental health and climate change. If we are to continue to have a mandate to farm, we have got to be the solution to society’s challenges.

“We all need to work together. We need to be better at working together as farmers and better at working together with others in the supply chain, including those who manufacture machinery, invent machinery, buy our products and those who add value to our products. We’ve got to get better at collaboration.

“As farmers, we have the opportunity to really address climate change. We are the custodians to some of the most precious resources, whether that be carbon or water, and it has to be us telling that story and really making a change.

“The thing I love about farming is that we are not just part of the economy, we are part of the rural community and our communities look after each other. According to the Farm Safety Foundation, 84% of young farmers under 40 believe that mental health is the biggest danger facing the industry. Statistics like this should encourage us to talk more openly and prioritise our mental health - I can’t stress enough how important it is for farmers to look after one another.”

This year’s conference also had a strong focus on young people working in agriculture in Lincolnshire and included talks from Alec McNulty from British Sugar, Rosie Fox from ADM Agriculture and Ross Davenport from Cote Hill Cheese.

Simon Day, chairman of the Lincolnshire Farming Conference committee, said he was delighted to see so many younger attendees at the conference and that it is great to see the industry attracting a large number of genuinely enthusiastic and talented young people.

“Attracting young people into agriculture is a crucial part to the industry. Young people are a key part to Lincolnshire’s legacy and it was fantastic to hear first-hand from those young people working in agriculture in our county, talking about the importance of education and the need for graduate training schemes. It acted as a reminder that we need to continue looking ahead to the next generation to secure the long-term future of farming.”

Insect Farming, the practice of raising, eating and breeding insects as livestock, was also a key topic discussed by Adam Banks, director of the Woven Network and Nuffield scholar. Adam discussed the pressures on farmers in the UK to provide more sustainable food sources and looked at the negative attitudes toward entomophagy and how they can be overcome.

Sam Watson-Jones from Small Robot Company discussed current trends in farming technology, including the growth of precision applications and systems to optimise soil health and productivity. Simon Pearson from University of Lincoln then discussed the future of Lincolnshire farming systems in depth.

Michael Horsch from HORSCH Maschinen GmbH gave insight into the latest revolutionary machinery, innovative farming technology and the importance of hybrid farming, regenerative farming and carbon farming on a worldwide scale.

Wilkin Chapman, Brown & Co and HSBC held a workshop to discuss ‘the future of a farming family and what steps to take next’ along with University of Lincoln and Anglian Water, which discussed ‘healthy soils, healthy crops and healthy water’.

Lincolnshire Rural Support Network (LRSN) held a stand to offer support and guidance to farmers and rural people experiencing anxiety, stress and problems relating to their families and businesses. On the stand, LRSN raised awareness for the ‘Yellow Wellies – Mind Your Head’ campaign, which was organised by Farm Safety Foundation and took place last week (10-14 February), aiming to raise awareness of farm safety for young farmers in the UK.

Simon added: “The Lincolnshire Farming Conference is always a key date in the farming calendar, allowing farmers to meet and interact with one another and a chance to hear from key industry experts discussing the main issues and topics in today’s agricultural world. Farmers often work in remote areas and have very little contact with other people during their working day so it is great that they can get together at the conference to share advice and support one another”.

“We have had a huge amount of positive feedback from both speakers and delegates and we were thrilled to see record-breaking attendance for our 2020 Farming Conference.”

The Lincolnshire Showground is well placed geographically with the Conference attracting attendees and exhibitors from across the Midlands and further afield. Sponsors of the Lincolnshire Farming Conference included CLAAS, University of Lincoln, Woldmarsh Producers Ltd, Streets Chartered Accountants, Househam Sprayers, Anglian Water, Wilkin Chapman LLP, OMEX, Marsh Commercial, Brown & Co, Bionature UK and HORSCH.

Those who were not able to attend the conference can watch the full conference video here

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