Big day out for organic arable a clear success

Sponsors of National Organic Cereals 2012

Around 240 farmers, exhibitors and industry experts gathered for the fifth annual National Organic Cereals at a Dorset farm.

National Organic Cereals 2012 audience

It was a packed house for the speakers at NOC 12

The event, which is the biggest dedicated organic arable event in the UK farming calendar, has once again been hailed as a outright success by attendees on a day which even saw some of the best weather of the year so far.

National Organic Cereals 2012, organised by Organic Farmers & Growers, in conjunction with Abacus Organic, was held at Launceston Farm, near Blandford Forum, Dorset, on July 5, and was hosted by OF&G licensees, mother and son Sarah Worrall and Jimi Collis.

As well as a wide array of trade stands, delegates enjoyed a range of topical speakers, a farm walk with detailed explanation of the extensive crop trials planted for the event and an organic lunch (preceded by hot breakfast rolls and followed by Dorset cream teas).

The presentations and two panel question and answer sessions were skillfully chaired by BBC Radio 4 Farming Today presenter, Charlotte Smith, who was returning to the event for a second year having been a hit with delegates in 2011.

Following an introduction to the farm itself by Jimi Collis, presentations were made on topics including: planning organic agronomy in difficult times (such as a year which has seen both drought and deluge), by Stephen Briggs of Abacus Organic; a look at organic versus non-organic margins from Nic Lampkin, head of the Organic Research Centre, Elm Farm; the benefits of certified compost and digestate from anaerobic digestion (biofertiliser) on organic farms, from Martin Wood of Earthcare Technical Ltd; a view of the sector from a buyer and brand holder’s perspective, courtesy of Nick Barnard, from Rude Health; an examination of CAP reform issues on organic farming, again from Nic Lampkin, of ORC.

Farm walk at National Organic Cereals 2012

The farm walk and crop trials are one of the most popular features of the event

Almost two hours was given over to a farm walk to examine the trial plots planted specifically for the event, which included a varieties yield trial, courtesy of Pearce Seeds, and spring barley trials, courtesy of Robin Appel Ltd.

The main feature of the organic lunch was rare breed longhorn beef from OF&G licensee, Great Berwick Farm, in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

OF&G Chief Executive, Richard Jacobs, said: “Once again this was a very practical and focused day out. We know that farmers don’t take time away from their businesses lightly, so it has to be of definite use to them to attend. But there’s nothing else like this in the calendar where arable producers, their suppliers and the experts they rely on can get together, talk solely about organic crop production and see trials in action on a working organic farm.

“As is now usual, the event was quite heavily over-subscribed and we have to limit the numbers to be able to plan for catering, but planning starts now for next year’s NOC and everything is open to discussion, including a possible expansion of the event.

“The feedback to me on the day was, without exception, extremely positive. I think the organic arable growers deserve a day like this and I very much hope it has a positive impact on the sector generally.”

A free moisture meter clinic was run by Organic Arable, which enabled delegates to have their meters professionally calibrated and certified.

Dozens of photographs of the day have been posted online for anyone to view and can be accessed at http://ofng.me/noc12pix.

Guests who attended the event can also request copies of the presentations. To do so please email Angela Norman with your request, specifying any particular presentations you would like to receive.

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