2020 Vision: Combinable crops

Tom Bradshaw

As the rapid change of weather in the autumn of 2019 has reminded us, arable businesses need to be physically and financially resilient, while delivering a high regulatory standards and competing at global commodity prices.

We must not lose sight of our high baseline and standards or allow policy makers be ignorant toward the cost implications. This year, we will be championing the need to reward producers for delivering a high baseline, which is something the marketplace cannot do – without reward the UK industry is not sustainable.

As the largest user of productive farm land, this sector has huge opportunity to deliver produce and defined public goods. In 2020, we will be raising the profile of how the right policy can support the proliferation of open flowering crop production – essentially OSR and pulses. This is a significant opportunity for the UK Government to support pollinators, help displace imports of animal feed protein and reduce reliance on grain exports to the EU.

Bringing more pulses into the rotation can help reduce reliance on artificial nitrogen and associated emissions.

Crop nutrition is going to be a big focus area when it comes to delivering on the NFU’s net zero targets, as well as dealing with new and rules on water and air quality. Driving nutrient use efficiency is also a key part of improving productivity and reducing costs, so, our asks of government and AHDB in these areas are likely to be substantial.

There is opportunity for certain crops to sequester carbon and we will be bringing an increased focus onto hemp, in a bid to have more rational regulation to produce a crop with a magnitude of carbon-storing applications.

Hear more from our board and forum chairman on their plans for 2020 below: