Category: News

East of England Agricultural Society backs new Soil Health Initiative

East of England Agricultural Society backs new Soil Health Initiative

Exciting developments are underway for Soil Health in the UK and the East of England Agricultural Society is delighted to be working and supporting this new initiative launched today at Cereals.

The agricultural society has been developing a number of new initiatives which form part of their future plans and this new work with NIAB and others will hope to raise understanding of the health of soils across UK farmland and lay knowledge for generations to come.

With wide backing,  this new initiative for Soil Health is bringing together scientists, academics, industry farm advisers and farming bodies to take a long-term approach to understanding and improving the health of soils.

The new body is being formed as a direct response to the Government’s ambition that ‘all England’s soils should be managed sustainably by 2030, supporting profitable and productive farming, and underpinning targets for clean water and air…’ (Defra 25 year environment plan)

The new initiative aims to work with all devolved governments to deliver this aspiration across the UK. Working closely with Government, through voluntary actions the approach will help farmers and growers to pass on soils under agricultural management to the next generation protected and enhanced.

Initial backing has come from a range of research and advisory organisations, agrisupply businesses and soil laboratories as well farmers and growers. (Full list- see Notes for Editors). However, the partnership is keen expand to ensure as wide a representation of interests and disciplines as possible.

Developed over a series of industry gatherings, the initiative recognises that much is already being done to address the issues of soil health from research to practical field demonstrations. This renewed emphasis on soils will continue to build on the existing knowledge and skills base bringing together information, best practice and develop new approaches.  Identifying knowledge gaps and encouraging research into such areas will be an important part of the early work.

Elizabeth Stockdale of NIAB, an academic closely involved in the partnership comments: “From visits to innovative farmers and AHDB Monitor Farms, I have seen lots of research in action to deliver site-specific husbandry that treats soils as a living part of the farming system. This initiative is the opportunity to bring together the best science and practice to improve soil health.”

Work will also be undertaken to establish the characteristics for soil health and on-farm approaches to monitor them over time. While some measures, such as earthworms, can change quite rapidly, others such as soil organic matter change slowly, often over many years. Therefore, those involved are committed to a long-term approach to measuring soil health improvement.

Dave Freeman Chair of the Professional Agricultural Analysis Group (PAAG) says: “We want to focus on defining measures that help farmers understand soil health. As all soils differ, an ability to measure key factors is essential for good management and achieving improvements over time.”

On-farm advice will play a critical part. There will be no one-size fits all blueprint as improving soil health will be, in part, built on existing practice, soil type, climate, etc. Whether growing combinable crops, field vegetables or grass and forage crops there will be options to enhance productivity and soil health. The new initiative seeks to help farmers and growers understand how to manage soils for both improved productivity and increased sustainability, based on healthy soils.

Through initial meetings, the partnership recognised that work to address soil health is quite extensive. However, to date all this effort has lacked coordination. Working with the farming community, the emerging initiative will look to deliver a consistent and coordinated approach to improving soil health across the UK.

In the coming months, partners will promote the importance of measuring soil physical condition and topsoil organic matter alongside routine indicators for improved nutrient management. Case studies of best practice that already exist on farm will be developed alongside clear evidence that enables the agricultural industry to improve soil husbandry to support profitable and productive farming.

Further information:

William Haire, Agricultural Development Manager, East of England Agricultural Society                                                                             01733 234451

Dave Freeman, Policy Manager, AIC                                                                      01733 385240

Elizabeth Stockdale, Head of Farming Systems Research, NIAB                            07957 342401


Bursary announced for members to attend RASC conference in Canada

Bursary announced for members to attend RASC conference in Canada

The East of England Agricultural Society is delighted to announce the opening of the RASC conference bursary applications. This year the East of England Agricultural Society has openings for two Members to attend the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth Conference in which takes place in November.

The Bi-annual conference takes place in a different Commonwealth Nation each time and this year the conference is to be held in Edmonton, Canada. The two successful bursary applicants will attend both the next generation conference and the main conference and also receive flights and accommodation as part of the package.

The East of England Agricultural Society supports the continued progression of individuals within the industry and believes that the RASC conference will provide a great source of knowledge for those who receive the Bursary.

The 2016 conference took Cultiv8 members Tom Martin and Amelia Rome to Singapore for the conference, and both have flourished on the knowledge learned at the event. Tom’s trip to Singapore sparked the ‘Facetime a Farmer’ initiative that has swept through the agricultural social media world over the course of the last year and how know been picked up by LEAF.

Bursary applications are open until the 3rd of August. The application process requires the candidate to pitch why they would benefit from the Bursary and the impact it would likely have on themselves and the Society. Applications will be judged by a panel appointed by the East of England Agricultural Society.

For more information, including specifics on how to apply please visit , Email or call 01733 234451

Annual lecture gives food for thought whilst feeding Britain

Annual lecture gives food for thought whilst feeding Britain

Hot debate grabbed the attention of the guests at last night’s East of England Shuttleworth Lecture when well known and respected guest speaker Sir Peter Kendall took to the mic.

The annual lecture organised by the East of England Agricultural Society was well attended by over 100 farmers, students and associated guests alike.

Titled “Feeding Britain” Peter focused on the future of farming and highlighted what the global challenges that will have an impact on food systems. Other key points delivered were that now is not the time to be creating an agricultural policy that is heavily reliant on imports.

He also mentioned that it’s not all down to the government to make the changes but for farmers as an industry to figure out how much they need to do. This point emphasised more onto the individual and encouraged collaboration through one central body who we can listen to and trust.

Introduced by lecture Chairman and East of England Agricultural Society member Andrew Davies, Peter was welcomed backed to the Shuttleworth Lecture as being the only guest speaker to return for a second talk, the first being back in 2010.

“It was great to have such a well-respected and trusted voice as a guest speaker, the evening was full of great debate and information, which I hope people will take away and make use for the future,” says William Haire East of England Agricultural Society’s, Agricultural Development Manager.

Thank you to Shuttleworth College for hosting the annual lecture and for all the people involved in organising this event.

A video of the evening will be available soon

For more information on the Shuttleworth Lecture please contact Ruth Trolove at the East of England Agricultural Society on or call 01733 234451

Open Baking Competition at the Autumn Show

Open Baking Competition at the Autumn Show

With the return of the Great British Bake off to our television screens this evening, we hope you will be feeling inspired to enter the WI Open Baking Competition that is taking place at this years Autumn Food & Country Fair on the 8th October.

We have classes for;

  1. Cheese Scones
  2. Artisan Bread
  3. Classic Victoria Sandwich
  4. Decorated Biscuits – 12 Years and Under

Visit the website below for the complete schedule and entry form.

WI Open Baking Competition

Don’t miss out on the BEST Farming Conference in the East of England

Don’t miss out on the BEST Farming Conference in the East of England


7th August 2017

Grow or Go! Farmers to get 2020 vision at East of England Conference

Options for farmers to future proof and grow their businesses will be the focus of this year’s East of England Farming Conference, which takes place on 2 November 2017 at the East of England Showground. Entitled ‘Grow or Go’, the conference organised by the East of England Agricultural Society, now in its third year, will present novel farming approaches and ideas to encourage resourcefulness in British farming.

Thomas Beazley, Chairman of the East of England Agricultural Society, says the conference aims to provide delegates with practical and thought-provoking ideas in three distinct sessions: science, people and politics; case studies of ‘farmers with flair’; and building the British brand. He comments: “We are passionate about offering farmers in the East inspiration to drive their businesses forward in a sustainable way, ensuring our farming industry is fit and healthy in 2020 and beyond.”

Richard Whitlock, chairman of the conference organising committee, will chair the first session. Speakers will debate science, people and politics, post 2020, and include NFU deputy president, Minette Batters and policy director of the Soil Association, Lord Melchett. Richard says: “On the political front, we are living through challenging and uncertain times, with increasing requirements for farmers to demonstrate environmental benefits alongside food production. Farmers will have to be at the top of their game across the board, there is no room for second best in any sector.” 

Tom Martin, a mixed farmer from Haddon, Cambridgeshire who recently started his Village Farm business after leaving a city job, will chair session two, involving five ‘farmers with flair’. The speakers include: Emily Norton, Farmers Weekly’s Mixed Farmer of the Year 2017 finalist; Alec Mercer of Packington Free Range; Jack Stilwell of ‘Get Jack Farming’, Matt Sharp of The Rising Sun Farm, and Tom Wright of Spring Farm Systems. These entrepreneurs have turned the perception of farming on its head. The session will demonstrate how important it is to be resourceful and think ‘outside of the box’.   Emily Norton says: “Farmers need to think beyond subsidies, the status quo is over. We need to embrace change and realise the opportunities it presents, particularly in the way we finance our businesses. Securing external sources of funding and investment will be important if farmers are able to profit from innovation in the future.”

Building the British Brand is the focus for the third session, chaired by Tom Bradshaw, where delegates will hear from experts across the agricultural industry on how farmers can mitigate or remove barriers to growth. Director of the Free Range Dairy Network, and session speaker, Neil Darwent thinks Brexit is a good place to start. Neil says: “Brexit will present one of the most challenging times ever known in British farming. Farmers need to be prepared for the changing landscape and what it will bring. We must explore every opportunity to ensure farming thrives when we leave EU. “I will be urging farmers to identify the opportunities that changing demand will bring and to promote a future farming industry that is founded on market requirements, rather than being production driven.”

Tickets to the East of England Farming Conference 2017 are available to purchase from Eventbrite. Students and Society members can apply for discounted tickets by contacting the organisers via the website.

Conference sponsors include: Anglia Farmers, British Sugar, Brown and Co., Camgrain, Churchgates, HSBC, Land Family Business, Roythornes, and Syngenta.

More information

William Haire, East of England Agricultural Society

Tel: 01733 234451, email:

Issued by:

Rebecca Dawson, Hornbeam

Tel: 07711 915927, email:

Festival of Hunting Press Release

Festival of Hunting Press Release

Festival of Hunting

On Wednesday 19th July an enthusiastic crowd of over 7500 hunting and countryside supporters attended The Festival of Hunting at The East of England Showground, with festival organisers recording that there was a 25% increase in attendees compared to last year.
Jeremy Staples, Secretary of The Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show Society , commented that “the organisers were delighted with this year’s event and this fantastic increase in the number of visitors reflects the positive interest in traditional country activities.”
This year’s festival encompassed the 129th running of the Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show and is widely renowned as being the most important event in the world for foxhound breeding.
The event was blessed with good weather and there were fantastic results across the well supported classes for Harriers, Beagles, Bassett Hounds, Drag Hounds, Fell and Stag Hounds, Terriers and Coursing Dogs as well as a thrilling Inter-Hunt relay and a range of equine showing classes.
Key highlights of the day included the inaugural Festival of Hunting Horn Blowing competition sponsored by Lycetts which was won by Nicholas Map. The competition was open to entry for all guests, bar professional Hunt Staff, and the winner received an engraved hunting horn, donated by The Hunting Shop, to commemorate the occasion. The Festival of Hunting was delighted to welcome for the first time, fashionistas Martha Sitwell, hunting heroine and ex-model, Margo Stilley, actress and model and stylist Sarah Byrne who were the guest judges for the festival’s ‘Best Dressed Lady’ which was won by Scarlett Goodall. The Best Dressed Lady was sponsored by Fairfax and Favor, Frimble, County Equestrian Jewellers, Butler Stewart and Teddy Edward, who donated a selection of fantastic prizes for the winner on the day along with an exclusive gift donated by Alice Naylor-Leyland, Vogue Contributor.
Insurance and financial services group Lycetts were the headline sponsor for the 2017 festival which was the second of their three-year partnership with the festival and they hosted a generous drinks reception in the evening at the site which was attended by guests from throughout the hunting community where the very competitive horn-blowing competition provided a fitting round up to the day.
Following their second year of sponsorship, Lycetts Chief Executive, Angus Keate commented; “It is a privilege for those who follow hounds to cross land owned by farmers and landowners and
likewise Lycetts is privileged to be associated with an event that is so clearly thriving and which has become such a key part of the Summer calendar for so many of our clients and contacts, we look forward to being part of this again next year.”

For further information please contact

Equifest 2017

Equifest 2017


9th-13th August

Equifest celebrates its 10th year in 2017.  The show has grown over the last 10 years and now over 10 000 riders and visitors from across the UK visit the show, held at the East of England Showground.

With various attractions, shops and entertainment running alongside the extensive competition schedule it is easy to see why people enjoy visiting and competing at equifest so much.

Members of the public can pay £10 for a car pass which will cover you for all show days (Wednesday and Sunday are free). Members of the East of England Agricultural Society are able to get in for free upon presentation of a valid East of England Agricultural Society membership card.

For more information please visit

Upcoming Events

all-day Kids Country- Food & Farming Day @ East of England Showground
Kids Country- Food & Farming Day @ East of England Showground
Jun 29 all-day
Kids Country- Food & Farming Day @ East of England Showground
The Kids Country Food and Farming day brings around 7000 school children onto the site to learn about where their food comes from and how it is made. If you would like to get involved, …

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all-day Just Dogs Live @ East of England Showground
Just Dogs Live @ East of England Showground
Jul 6 – Jul 8 all-day
Just Dogs Live @ East of England Showground
Members are entitled to Free entry to this event upon presentation of a valid membership card at the entrance. For more information about Just Dogs Live- Incorporating the Championship Dog Show, please visit the dedicated …

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