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Busman’s Holiday Offers Insight into Innovative Farming Practices

by CiCi
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Currently, I’m enjoying a holiday with my family in Cornwall, which has turned into quite the busman’s holiday. We’ve embarked on a series of farm visits that have been both delightful and enlightening.

Our first stop was at Fentongollan, where the Hoskings, close family friends, manage a remarkable operation producing over 130 million vegetable modules annually, including our 10,000 pumpkin plants. The scale of their recent infrastructure investments, driven by business expansion, was truly impressive. It was a special visit, and we won’t wait so long for the next one.

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Exploring High-Standard Agriculture

Next, we attended the Willsbro Holstein Open Day. The Willsbro herd from Wadebridge, winners of the 2023 UK Premier Herd Award, stands as the highest-yielding Holstein herd in the UK. The event was a testament to the Wills family’s commitment to excellence in stock welfare, nutrition, and environmental stewardship.

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Our third visit was to Riviera Produce, which farms 3,237 hectares of brassicas such as cauliflower, broccoli, and courgettes. This business, like the others we visited, operates to the highest standards with a keen eye for detail and a strong passion for supplying the UK market with top-quality vegetables.

Future-Proofing Farming

A common thread among these farms is their forward-thinking investments, whether it’s the construction of state-of-the-art greenhouses, the adoption of innovative technologies to capture emissions from slurry lagoons, or the use of automated planters to reduce labor reliance. Such investments are crucial for the sustainability and productivity of UK agriculture.

I fervently hope that future UK governments will recognize and support the significant investments made by farm businesses to ensure sustainable and high-quality food production for UK consumers. Sadly, I fear this appreciation might be lacking.

Pre-Holiday Agricultural Insights

Before our Cornwall trip, I attended several variety open days, which highlighted both promising and less advisable crops. We have a notable soft wheat distilling contract with Simpsons Malt, which includes a premium for producing sustainable wheat. The quality of the soft wheats available now is impressive and highly regarded.

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