How long have you been involved with Morley?
I was introduced to the Norfolk Ag Station by my new colleagues when I became an independent agronomist at Mid Norfolk Farmers in the mid 1980’s. They had already established close contacts with Morley having identified it as an excellent source of independent research in crop production with that all-important local angle. Many farmers also had high regard for Morley’s work and would want to know if my advice was based on this. As an independent agronomist signing up as a Morley member was the proverbial ‘no brainer’.
How has Morley improved your knowledge?
When I joined, the depth of knowledge of staff such as Perry Maclean, Doug Stevens, Mike Nuttall and Mike Palmer – and their willingness to share it – was a great help. Later in my career, being part of the Experiments’ Committees. meant I had cutting edge information to formulate my advice. One change to practice stands out: when Morley work showed that the best T1 timing for Septoria control was Growth Stage 32.
How do you think Morley will help farmers and contribute to agriculture in the future?
I think the SAMS (Soil and Agronomic Monitoring Sites) project, which started in 2018 and is expected to run for 20 years, will provide an invaluable data set for farmers and the industry in terms of soil health and how it is influenced by farming practice. The board’s aim of encouraging and supporting new entrants to the industry will also make a lasting contribution.
Ten years from now, what do you think agriculture will look like?
There will be much more technology, from robotic systems doing routine tasks to AI involvement in decision-making. Maybe only highly productive land will be cropped. Climate change may change crops and how farming is done in general.
What key attributes will future farmers and their advisors need?
As now, flexibility and an open mind. Thinking outside the box is likely to become more important as need for change becomes apparent.
What are TMAF’s key strengths?
The ability to do long term experiments such as SAMS, because the farm isn’t going away, and be independent. Plus, the fact it’s a commercially run farming enterprise as well as a research and demonstration farm.
What interesting thing or activity have you done, or do you do, that people may not know?
For several years I volunteered at the Carriage Driving Trials at Sandringham. On one occasion I ‘raced’ a Land Rover Discovery towards a gateway until we got close, and I realised Prince Philip was driving it.