With an audience of over 250 farmers, landowners and agriculturalists from across the region, leading lights in British agriculture are expected to fiercely debate the topic of ‘Sustainability’ at this year’s South of England Agricultural Society’s Farming Conference on Wednesday 16 November at the South of England Showground in Ardingly.

“Sustainability, triple bottom line and sustainable intensification are all phrases that are heard on a regular basis in the agricultural industry, but what does it actually mean and crucially what does it mean for modern farming businesses?” said Duncan Rawson, a Nuffield Scholar sponsored by the Society and this year’s Conference Organiser.

“Farmers are being challenged to produce more food for a growing population but at the same time go further in protecting the environment.  Organic farming is a very emotive subject within the industry and just one of the areas that will be up for discussion looking at what role it has to play in sustainable agriculture.”

Food businesses and retailers have to consider their environmental and social footprint along the entire supply chain and the conference will investigate what sustainability looks like for food businesses that buy agricultural commodities.  It will discuss the role that technology plays in delivering sustainably produced food and whether this is affordable for agricultural businesses as well as ask if farmers can deliver environmental and social sustainability whilst maintaining a sustainable business themselves.

Tackling these issues head on is an impressive panel of speakers including: Helen Browning OBE, chief executive of the Soil Association and organic farmer in Wiltshire; Robin Sundaram, head of responsible sourcing for Nestlé UK and Jake Freestone a Nuffield Scholar and farm manager at Overbury Farms in Gloucestershire.  The Society is delighted that BBC presenter, Charlotte Smith will be chairing the panel again this year.

This year the Society will also be holding a new Technical Forum prior to the conference from 4-6pm, which is aimed at active farmers and students who are interested in extending their understanding of soils and farming systems to better improve soil conditions. This will be an interactive session involving a fabulous line up of presenters including: Ron Stobart, head of farming system research at NIAB TAG; David Jones from the Natural History Museum who is an expert on worms; and Tom Sewel, Nuffield Scholar and farmer who has embraced a no-till system on his farm in Kent.

Sitting in the middle of 150 acres, the South of England Showground is the ideal venue to host the Farming Conference, in partnership with South East Farmer magazine and sponsored by Mayo Wynne Baxter, Complete Land Management (CLM), Lloyds Bank and Richard Place Dobson LLP.

The South of England Farming Conference is generously sponsored by Complete Land Management, Mayo Wynne Baxter, Lloyds Bank, South East Business Systems and Richard Place Dobson LLP.

The Conference is free to attend for people with an interest in agriculture and related industries and includes refreshments.  The Technical Forum is also free, but will be allocated on a first come first served basis and it is essential to register your place for both through the farming conference page at

 South of England Farming Conference, Wednesday 16 November 2016

Technical Forum 4-6pm and Farming Conference 6-9pm

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