MDS x CropTec Show 2023


MDS firmly believes in providing enrichment to the management training process, giving Trainees as much opportunity to expand their knowledge as possible and CropTec is just one of the many ways we deliver on this.

For anyone sat on the outside of UK agriculture, the end of November marks a time of preparation for the winter months and the lead up to Christmas. For those who find themselves within the agri-food industry however, this time of year gives stakeholders the opportunity to witness the latest innovations across the sector, at the National Agriculture Exhibition Centre, courtesy of the CropTec show. MDS Trainees were also in on the action, with 4 representatives from secondments with BASF, Certis Belchim and Carr’s Billington present.

“To keep ahead of the curve and as businesses look to hit the Net Zero by 2050 target, all attendees were focused on the latest technological advancements”

Now in its eleventh year, the event invites producers, researchers and even MDS Trainees to come under one roof and marvel at the offerings of over 150 exhibitors alongside the chance to hear from industry leaders, providing their latest advice on how to future-proof your business in an increasingly challenging environment.

With the full integration of Defra’s flagship ELM (Environmental Land Management) scheme on the horizon in 2028 and with farmers seeing an annual reduction in Basic Payments since 2021, the industry is itching to answer for its sustainability flaws. So, to keep ahead of the curve and as businesses look to hit the Net Zero by 2050 target, all attendees were focused on the latest technological advancements. From cutting-edge machinery and remote sensing equipment helping farmers get the most from their land, to agronomists and businesses concentrating on BNG (biodiversity net gain) promoting novel techniques like regenerative agriculture; there was plenty on offer to bring the UK agricultural supply chain to new heights.

Over the two days, CropTec laid on several speakers for their 3 seminars, including Dr Lydia Smith, director of NIAB (an MDS Member) and the Eastern Agritech Innovation Hub. Joined by Julian Gould (Farm Manager of the Hendred Estate) on the second day, Lydia presented a piece on ‘Breaking down access to new markets to cultivate resilience’- a summary of which can be found below:

Public and private nature markets – A view from the top

With BPS continuing to phase out, there are increasing opportunities for farmers to access new income to cultivate business resilience. Following Defra’s release of its latest Nature Markets Framework, designed to scale up some of these existing markets, this session focussed on helping farmers break down some of the economic and environmental benefits on offer. It also answered fundamental questions around publicly funded environmental incentives (the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Countryside Stewardship and ELMs).

Can nature provide an income? Farmer focused case study

This session provided farmers with a unique insight into the economic opportunities and challenges of nature farming in practice.

Novel crops and new markets: Assessing the impact for farmers and resilience

Opportunities are now opening to explore alternative cropping rotations. This combined technical expertise and practice to explore how diversifying a crop rotation through accessing novel crops and new markets could be key to boosting farm profitability and resilience.

MDS’s view

The standard practice of industrial scale agriculture needs to include more maintenance of the factory premises; as we cannot continue down the track of relying upon finite resources in the form of artificial fertilisers to chase maximum short term profit at the expense of the health of the soil. The current economic climate does not help the situation however- the pressures that some producers are under has meant they are unable to take a long term view on their profit margin and prioritise other goals like biodiversity or carbon capture.

The good news is that the industry is beginning to provide the answers and CropTec’s exhibitors were on the forefront of this effort.