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New Strategic Agronomy Training Scheme Launched – Anglia Farmer

Find out how a new farmer-based training scheme and discussion group is helping the region’s growers take a more strategic approach to farm management ...

A new farmer-based training scheme and discussion group is helping the region’s growers take a more strategic approach to farm management.

Called Claritas, the training scheme is being led by independent consultant Keith Norman, who has more than 40 years of experience growing crops – including 30 at the helm of arable technical developments at Velcourt.

Backed by agronomy provider Farmacy, the group aims to help growers make the best decisions within a particular set of challenges for their businesses – by encouraging them to examine the impact of their decision making on the bottom line.

Mr Norman says Claritas members will have access to the latest relevant agronomic information while also spending time in the field looking at crops and discussing technical direction.

“We will be considering new ways of improving crop potential while also looking at how new and remote in-field technologies could bring benefits – both in the classroom and in the field,” says Mr Norman

How it works

Claritas is delivered in small groups of growers who attend three meetings each year. There is no requirement to be BASIS qualified, but it helps to be keen in the technical aspects of crop production. BASIS points are also achieved through attendance.

Mr Norman stresses that Claritas is not about specific field to field recommendations – that remains the role of the agronomist. Instead, it takes a more strategic approach to farm management decision making.

Bedfordshire farmer Andrew Robinson believes Claritas provides a valuable opportunity to evaluate decisions and keep pushing boundaries for better technical answers. He has already signed up and is leading one of the first Claritas groups.

“It’s too easy to get embroiled in day-to-day farm management, but its really important to take a step back and really look deep into what we are doing and the impact of those practices on our profitability, and how we can improve on what we already do.

“With a constant thirst for knowledge, access to an experienced technical expert such as Keith Norman is invaluable in my mind. Both my farm operator and myself are already BASIS and FACTS qualified but I still find there is much to learn.

“Bringing together growers from the same region is useful as we tend to have similar issues and it makes discussions more relevant.”

Tim Harper, commercial director of Blankney Estates, has also joined Claritas. As Lincolnshire group leader, he sees it as an opportunity to challenge established practice and ensure the best agronomic knowledge is employed across the business.

“I have considerable respect for Keith’s highly independent and technical advice having worked with him previously,” says Mr Harper.

“It’s important as a manager to be abreast of everything that is going on and to be able to challenge the agronomy decisions that are being made on the farm – and I believe it actually makes for a healthier relationship with our agronomist.”

Mr Harper says the broader approach of Claritas covers more than straight forward crop management strategies to wider environmental land management and business support, which is invaluable.

“The format of the training days works well as once the technical support is covered in the mornings, it’s possible to go out to the field in the afternoons and really challenge what the morning’s session has covered.”

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