Our 2016 Cereals Development Programme

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Want to know the arable sector from seed to shop shelf?

The 2016 Cereals Development Programme is a joint initiative by the NFU and grain cooperative Openfield. It offers a fantastic opportunity for anyone interested in combinable crops to improve their understanding of how the industry works, and how they can get the most from it.

The scheme is aimed at the next generation and participants are usually aged between 25 and 35 years old, but there is flexibility depending on individual circumstances. 

Participants will find out first-hand, what happens when grain leaves their farm gates, and why. The biannual scheme previously ran in 2014 -  you can read blogs from previous participants here.


The 2016 schedule

25 October 2016: Opening dinner with NFU & Openfield Officeholders
26 October 2016: Introduction to Openfield, grain trading and seed production - READ Joe Stanley's report
08 November 2016: Introduction to NFU, AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds, Red Tractor
09 November 2016: Media and presentation skills training - READ Laurence Poulter's blog report here
22 November 2016: Visit to Warburton's bakery and Portbury Docks, Bristol - READ John Farrington's report
06 December 2016: Visit to Rothamsted Research - Rececca Pearce reports, here
10 January 2017: Supply chain visit - Charles Day on the tour of Muntons maltsters
Late January 2017: Two day visit to Brussels including NFU in Brussels and Belgium farm tour
Early February 2017: Westminster visit and closing dinner with Officeholders and senior politician.

Meet this year's participants

Jack Smith – East Midlands
Jack has been farm manager at Stoughton Estate near Leicester for two years. The estate is owned by Farmcare Trading Ltd and he has worked for the company since 2010 after graduating from Newcastle University, where he studied agriculture. After completing an initial graduate program he was assistant manager on an arable and veg farm near Wisbech before moving to his current role in 2014. Stoughton Estate extends to 1800ha including contract farming and a substantial HLS/ELS scheme. The estate grows mainly combinable crops plus grass and forage crops for a dairy tenant on the estate. Jack is originally from Ludlow in Shropshire and in his spare time he is a keen sportsman and plays rugby for his local club.

Peter Hatley – East Anglia
Peter is based near Cambridge and farms in partnership with his mother and father. Together they farm 200ha. The arable rotation varies across the farm; Winter Barley, Oil Seed Rape, 1st & 2nd Wheat, Winter Beans and Spring Barley are all grown. The farm also runs a closed suckler herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle, on permanent pasture surrounding the farm. Arable crops are currently marketed through a pool system with some crops being kept back for winter feed. Countryside Stewardship is also a very prominent feature on the farm.

Laurence Poulter – East Anglia
Lawrence  (31) is part of a 750-acre family farming partnership split over two farms. They include 320 acres of aha land, where he is now the third generation tenant on a private estate in Cambridgeshire which in recent years has had an extra 150 acres FBT land added to it. This together with owned land makes up the total.

Lucky in having large fields, a solely arable rotation is followed majoring in quality wheat, 2nd wheat  and varied break crops (OSR, peas, beans, linseed, spring barley) - but not rigidly, allowing for changes as the weather and markets dictate. Both farms being heavy clay a constant battle with black grass is being fought.

Lawrence returned full time to the family farm in 2008 after attending Harper Adams during which time he worked for BASF conducting crops trials. Since being back Lawrence has left the local YFC and become increasingly involved with the NFU, being branch chairman for the last four years and a member of the eastern area crops board for nearly two. When Lawrence is not busy on the farm he enjoys making nearly anything out of metal or wood and many country sports including ferreting, beating and shooting.

John Farrington – South West
John Farrington farms 550 acres west of Taunton, Somerset. The farm was originally mixed, producing beef, but is now predominately arable growing wheat, oilseed rape, barley, oats and miscanthus. Diversification on the farm has included the renovation of old farm buildings into residential and office units, and the installation of two biomass boilers fed on timber from the farm woodland.

After graduating from the Royal Agricultural College in 2006 with a degree in agriculture, John went on to work for Farmcare for four years before returning home and becoming a partner in the family business. Away from the farm, John enjoys shooting, skiing and socializing with friends.

Joe Stanley – East Midlands
Joe farms 1000 acres of mixed arable and grassland in Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire in partnership with his parents from their base in the Charnwood Forest. The rotation consists of malting barley grown on contract for the Molson Coors Growers Group, HEAR OSR and feed wheat. They also have a prize-winning herd of pedigree English Longhorns, and various diversified enterprises.

After graduating from Durham University with an honours degree in history, Joe worked outside of agriculture, first joining the Army and then moving to work in London as a conference producer in the financial service & energy sectors. He returned to the family farm in 2009, and has recently completed a Graduate Diploma in Agriculture at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester.

Outside of farming, Joe reads widely of astronomy, history, politics & current affairs, and is partial to both graceless skiing and his Jack Russell/chief tractor co-pilot, Ted.

Will Manners – North East
Will has worked as the Assistant Farm Manager at Manners Farms Limited for just over three years now. The business currently farms around 1400 acres, split between cereals, oilseed rape and potatoes grown for various different markets. Recently Will also took on the role of Vice Chairman for his local branch of the NFU. In 2013 he graduated from Harper Adams University where he studied Agriculture and Crop Management. Outside of work Will enjoys playing rugby and cricket and shooting in the winter months.

Jolyon Limbrick – South West
Jolyon farms in partnership with his father on their 900ac mixed beef and arable farm in the Cotswolds.  Jolyon primarily looks after the arable aspect of the business and his father the beef cattle. 

The arable enterprise is made up of 700ac and comprises mainly of milling wheat, malting barley and OSR.  Prior to joining his father on the family farm and leaving college, Jolyon worked for a local arable farmer and contractor where he gained valuable knowledge and practical experience. Since returning home Jolyon has worked hard with his father to improve the efficacy and modernise the infrastructure of the farm. When not working on the farm Jolyon can normally be found gainfully employed by his wife or by the recent addition of his daughter.

Francis Bartleet – East Anglia
Francis is assistant farm manager on his family farm near Colchester, Essex. The farm covers 320ha of arable cropping including winter wheat, winter barley, ryegrass, borage, red clover and oilseed rape. Production is focused on seed contracts as well as milling and malting premiums. Prior to returning to the family farm, Francis studied Classics at the University of Cambridge before training and practising as a Chartered Accountant at PwC for five years. He completed the Royal Agricultural University's Graduate Diploma in Agriculture in 2016. In his spare time, he enjoys travelling, surfing and generally being outdoors.

Charles Day – South West
Charles is a Partner in the family business farming 800 hectares on the Gloucestershire and Worcestershire border. The arable rotation involves Winter Wheats (milling), Winter Oilseed Rape (Molten & Hybrid), Spring Beans and Spring Wheat. It also includes Spring/Winter Onions and Vining Peas on the irrigated ground.

Charles has recently returned to family business after working for a local auctioneers. Away from the farm he is a keen sportsman playing American Football, and is also involved with Young Farmers where he is Vice County Chair for Gloucestershire.

Charlie Chamberlain – South East
Charlie is the fourth generation working on his family’s 4,000 acre arable farm in South Oxfordshire, which includes a number of tenancies and whole farm contracts, working alongside his father and brother. The main crops grown on the farm are winter wheat, spring and winter barley with winter oilseed rape currently as the main break crop along with beans and poppies.

The farm is a LEAF demonstration farm and has an HLS agreement majoring on farm land birds. He completed an MSc in Rural Land and Business Management at the University of Reading immediately prior to returning to the farm having worked for a company constructing artificial sports pitches following his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Nottingham.  He plays hockey through the winter and various sports in the summer when work allows

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Tom Brandreth – South East
Tom Brandreth is farming 1,000 acres with his wife’s family in Kent. The farm is mixed but primarily arable, the main crop is milling wheat of which the majority goes to Openfield on their Warburtons contract. Prior to this Tom was working for Co-op farm, Hutchinson as an agronomist so is both BASIS and Fact’s trained. Tom is an active member of the NFU in the South East and is currently branch chairman of the Ashford branch in Kent.

Hannah Barton – North West
Hannah comes from a Butchering family which has been running for over 100 years and is keen to learn more about the Arable industry to further her knowledge on the Arable sector and how this would then impact on an animals growth and final flavours to meats in order to pursue her business aspirations with more detailed knowledge. Hannah is extremely enthusiastic towards British agriculture and its future and is keen to spread the word about all things British.

In her spare time Hannah is Cheshire YFC’s County Chairlady so is often found travelling around the county running and taking part in various YFC competitions from sports to debating - she is happy to take part in anything! Hannah is keen to get involved in her local NFU and is hoping when she has a little more spare time from YFC she will be able to do so and is truly passionate about shaping the future of British Agriculture with her love of the industry and new business venture.

Jamie Burrows – East Anglia
Jamie runs the family farm and contracting business from its base just outside St Albans, Herts. 800ha of cereals are grown on light flinty soils as part of a Joint Venture with his neighbour on a mixture of owned, rented and contract farmed land. Crops grown include first wheats, oats, spring and winter barley and beans and reluctantly OSR subject to CSFB pressure.

The partnership does not believe their soils ‘self-structure’ enough for direct drilling so a combination of min-till and some ploughing would best describe their cultivation methods. Technology is embraced as much as possible. Variable seed and fertiliser rates, together with yield mapping, help them better understand the massive in-field variation in soil type across all the farms.

Between finishing at Harper Adams and coming home, Jamie worked on a large beef and arable unit on the Northants/Cambs border. It stimulated an interest in livestock which led on to him now managing 50 Longhorn cattle and grazing sheep on 300ha for a local landowner.  Away from work Jamie enjoys spending time with his wife and two young daughters. He also enjoys playing cricket and contemplating how he will manage to run the 2017 London Marathon. He is also a Northampton Saints season ticket holder.

Clare Davies – East Midlands
Clare currently works on the family farm having returned in 2015 after spending a number of years in London in the event management industry. Clare works alongside her sister and father on their arable farm, based in North Lincolnshire. Clare is primarily focussed on Winter Wheat and Oil Seed Rape within the crop rotation, however in addition the farm also grows 70 acres of potatoes in which she takes an active role. In her spare time, Clare enjoys keeping fit and spending time with her young family.

Tom Owen – West Midlands
Tom is an arable farmer from Shropshire farming around 3500 acres in various agreements, some owned, some rented and some contract farmed growing a fairly regular arable rotation. He also runs an anaerobic digester. On the home farm a block of farm buildings has also been developed into a boarding house for a neighbouring school, and Tom is one of the house parents for this boarding house.

Tom also has a small side-line doing music for weddings and parties. He is passionate about the countryside being very keen on shooting and fishing and sports generally, and tries to play as much cricket as possible. Tom graduated from Newcastle University where he studied geography.

Rebecca Pearce, Openfield Farm Business Manager, Yorkshire
Rebecca started her career in the grain trade after completing her studies, starting out working in a busy grain forwarding and shipping department for a national grain merchant. She quickly progressed into working direct with British Farmers, and secured a position at Openfield as a Farm Business Manager two years ago. Rebecca trades in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and day to day her job role consists of dealing with a vast customer base focusing on grain procurement and the sales of inputs such as seed and fertiliser.

Having come from a farming background – her family farmed in the Lincolnshire Wolds – she’s always been a bit of a country bumpkin, and has a huge love for the great outdoors; Rebecca loves horse riding, following my local hunt and attending the polo!  Aside from this she is also a keen cake baker, gin drinker and loves all sorts of sports from snowboarding to surfing. You can follow her journey as a Lincolnshire girl working on Yorkshire soil via her Twitter @RebeccaFerne.


Last edited on: 24:10:2016

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