South of England Farming Conference 2020
Can UK agriculture really achieve net zero?
On Wednesday 11th November, the South of England Agricultural Society hosted its annual Farming Conference.
Taking place online for the first time, the conference brought together over 200 farmers, landowners, agriculturalists, and industry representatives from across the south of England. The topic of conversation centred around whether the UK really can achieve net zero in the agriculture industry by 2040.
Chaired by BBC presenter Charlotte Smith, panel guests included Minette Batters – President of the NFU, Tim May – Managing Director of Kingsclere Estates, Doug Wanstall – Farmer and Nuffield Scholar, and Hugh Martineau – Head of Sustainability at Map of Ag. After each panel representative had delivered their presentations, the over-riding message was clear – the industry can achieve net zero by 2040, but it will require farmers to adopt new practices, and government support that incentivises the right behaviours.
Minette Batters – President, NFU:
Minette runs a tenanted family farm in Wiltshire which includes a 100 cow continental cross suckler herd, and a small herd of pedigree Herefords as well as sheep and arable. Diversification includes the conversion of a 17th Century tithe barn into a wedding and corporate events venue, and horse liveries.
Minette co-founded the campaigning initiatives ‘Ladies in Beef’ and the ‘Great British Beef Week’, is a trustee of Farm Africa, has been an NFU member from grassroots through to County Chairman; served as Wiltshire’s Council delegate and as Regional Board Chairman for the South West. Minette has also been a member of NFU Governance Board, serving as NFU deputy president from 2014 before being elected as president in 2018.
Tim May – Managing Director, Kingsclere Estates:
Tim is a fourth-generation farmer at his family farm which runs 1,000 ha of Grade 3 land under an organic mixed farming model – four years of herbal leys for fertility building, followed by four years of annual cropping. This model has been running since 2013 after Tim completed a Nuffield scholarship entitled Understanding and Implementing Sustainability.
Tim is aiming to improve the level of diversity across the whole business and is actively pursuing greater productivity within the estate by increasing the number of enterprises.
Doug Wanstall – Farmer and Nuffield Scholar:
Doug runs a farming enterprise – 1,100 acres of arable and a free-range egg operation with some 50,000 laying birds spread across a number of counties – three wedding venues, and is a director and shareholder of a food wholesaling business.
After completing a Nuffield scholarship focusing on financial resilience in farm business, Doug has been developing Re-Generation Earth, a business that acts as the conduit between those companies and individuals that wish to take responsibility for their effect on the planet and those landowners that can do something about it.
Hugh Martineau – Head of Sustainability at Map of Ag:
Hugh is based on a farm in the Brecon Beacons where he is leading a net zero emissions initiative along with 5 other farmers in the area. Over the last 15 years he has worked with Government departments and private sector clients to review, analyse and develop strategies to address environmental impacts in farming systems. A major focus area has been in relation to climate change mitigation; developing measuring and monitoring programmes for greenhouse gas emissions and removals including assessment of ‘Net Zero’ emissions strategies.
All speakers will deliver a short presentation setting out their thoughts, then viewers can pose questions through an interactive message panel.
Panel Q&A session
The Farming Conference is held by the South of England Agricultural Society as part of its charitable remit to fund and support agricultural education and countryside learning.
With thanks to our generous sponsors: