A group of 10 French farmers visited the National Institute of Agricultural Botany to learn first hand about issues facing their British counterparts – and discovered there were many similarities.
It was part of a fact-finding visit in East Anglia to look at renewable crop alternatives and gather information about business and financial issues facing cereal farmers.
They were welcomed at the Cambridge centre last Thursday by Dr Juno McKee, Business Projects Manager, and French-born Pascal D’Allaglio who is a member of the team at NIAB.
Simon Kerr, agronomist and head of NIAB’s regional centres, gave a presentation on variety development in coppice and miscanthus. This was followed by Clare Leaman, cereal specialist, who focused on what UK farmers need from new varieties to address the challenges they face, including EU pesticide legislation, climate change and new disease pressures.
She said: “We need varieties capable of coping within a single season with more extreme and wide-ranging climatic pressures. We need a wide gene pool to develop solutions on an ongoing basis as problems arise and we need open minds so problems can be solved by innovation.”
Afterwards, the visiting farmers said the visit had altered their perception that problems facing the UK and France were different; in fact the challenges were the same on both sides of the Channel.”
Dr McKee said NIAB was delighted to host the visit, which included a tour of their recently refurbished research laboratories.
She said: “We think it is important to share our knowledge within the industry and have the support and understanding of farmers internationally”.
Further information is available from Mary McPhee or through press consultant Ellee Seymour on 01353 648564, or 07939 811961.