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Three new Harper Students join the team!

Wilson Wraight is delighted to announce that as our Agricultural Management Consultant Scholarship with Harper Adams commences for a sixth year, we have taken on three placement students for the coming 12 months.

 

Having grown up on his family’s arable farm in North Warwickshire, Tim Cotterill wishes to carry forward his passion for combinable and root crop production during his time at Wilson Wraight. Tim has now completed two years studies of BSc Agriculture with Farm Business Management and is looking forward to applying the techniques and knowledge he has learnt so far to real world scenarios in the sector.

 

Rebecca Smith is currently studying BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Farm Business Management. Growing up on a dairy farm in Cumbria and having opportunities to be involved in both the practical and business side of the enterprise has piqued her interest in agricultural consultancy. Rebecca is looking forward to utilising the expertise around her to further develop her knowledge of consultancy.

 

Alice Robbins is looking forward to working alongside the team and providing advice to clients, especially during a period of change for UK agriculture. Coming from a Game farming background Alice has always been interested in farming, but since beginning her studies in Agriculture with Farm Business Management at Harper Adams University that passion and interest has furthered. Alice has gained some valuable practical experience across a range of livestock and arable enterprises and is ready to put theory into practice!

 

Partner Will Mitcham commented, “Wilson Wraight are proud to continue our relationship with Harper Adams University and the Scholarship Programme. Every year the quality of applicants improves, making the selection process increasingly difficult for us and this is testament to the excellent work Harper Adams are doing. We are delighted to offer three students the opportunity for a placement with us and look forward to welcoming Alice, Becca and Tim to the team”.

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Thank you and goodbye to Kate Hall

Just over 12 months working at Wilson Wraight, and time has flown!

 

I began my placement year with Wilson Wraight in July 2020, as the first set of restrictions were easing, people were meeting with friends and family again, and the sun in Suffolk was shining, and tanning (or burning) my pale Scottish skin.

 

As an Agri-Business student at Harper Adams University in Shropshire, I spend 12 months of my Third Year, out of university, employed in an industry placement (or sandwich year).

 

From a farming background, but new to the world of Agri Consultancy, every spreadsheet, Farmplan backup and Gatekeeper report looked perplexing and incredibly confusing, but I soon managed to digest all the information that was being thrown my way and understand all the variety of work I was getting involved in day-to-day.

 

My summer in Bury St Edmunds flew by, weekends were spent exploring Suffolk and East Anglia, going to the beach, and enjoying time away from university – a very relaxing life without assignments and exams.

 

Through a tougher autumn and winter working at home for 9 months, I missed my colleagues and the office atmosphere, and welcomed the idea of getting back into the office in June.

 

Since getting back, I have managed to get out on-farm to meet clients, helped host the Wilson Wraight stand at the Cereals 2021 Show in Lincolnshire, helped to train our 3 new HAU Placement students, and realised how much I prefer on-farm meetings rather than Zoom – especially when there is plenty cups of tea and biscuits!

 

I finish my time with Wilson Wraight at the end of August, and will certainly miss the whole team, the pub lunches on a Friday, the conversations and debates about farming that happen between colleagues, and the satisfaction of getting the balance sheet to finally balance!

 

I think an industry placement is invaluable, for any course, at any school/ college/ university, and for everybody. My placement year with Wilson Wraight has allowed me to understand why I have learnt the things I have learnt and given me the opportunities to apply my knowledge in real life situations. It has made me even more interested in all elements of the world of farming and made my appetite for my education even stronger.

 

Going back to Harper Adams in September (I pray the pubs remain open) and looking forward to learning more about the interesting things I have seen and done on my year working in the agricultural consultancy industry. I am so grateful to have spent my placement year with the team at Wilson Wraight.

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How ELM will support soil health

At the Cereals conference 2021, Secretary of State George Eustice announced the future plans for the launch of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) next year. The announcement reflected a desire to place soil health at the heart of their future farming policy, known as Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme. Of the three SFI standards proposed by the Government, two directly aim at restoring soils; the Arable and horticultural soils standard and the Improved grassland soils standard. Within those two standards, the proposed funding is as follows;

 

 

Improved grassland soils (per hectare):

  • introductory: £26
  • intermediate: £44
  • advanced: £70

 

Arable and horticultural soils (per hectare):

  • introductory: £26
  • intermediate: £41
  • advanced: £60

 

This move reflects a growing awareness within Government of the intrinsic value of soil health. Back in 2017, Eustice himself promised that UK’s soils would be “at the heart” of the UK’s new agricultural policy and highlighted the importance of soil. Since then, Defra has worked to ensure that the Environmental Land Management scheme will be designed to support farmers to adopt methods that protect and restore soil health, such as cover-cropping and min-till methods. This commitment to remedying soil erosion and degradation led to it being publicly explicitly listed within the Agriculture Act as a “public good”, alongside clean air and clean water.

 

The recognition of the importance of soils to agriculture system is long over-due. Healthy soils are essential for food security. Yet almost a third of the world’s arable soils have been lost to erosion and pollution over the last 40 years. In the UK, we lose an estimated 2.2 million tonnes of topsoil each year, costing around £45 million per year, of which £9 million is in lost production and reduced yields, reducing the profitability of UK farms.

 

In the past, soil health might not have been considered to meet the definition of a “public good”, and therefore could have been excluded from Government funding. In fact, its rumoured that George Eustice originally had his doubts as to whether it met the definition. Defined as being non-rivalrous and non-excludable, many believed that soil didn’t count. The logic held that farmers had a personal interest in improving soil health to increase their yields, which they would ultimately benefit from financially, making it rivalrous, and that improving the soil health of their field did nothing to improve the health of their neighbour’s field, making it excludable.

 

However, this thinking has been overtaken by the imperative of climate change. Soils can help to mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions by acting as a carbon store. Globally, the soil carbon store is estimated to be 2.3 times greater than the carbon in atmospheric CO2 and 3.5 times greater than the carbon in all living terrestrial plants. Within soil carbon, grassland soils are a major store and hold about 34% of the global terrestrial carbon. Improving soil health is therefore a critical way to tackle climate change. Increasing soil organic matter (and by extension soil carbon) can help us to meet our net zero targets, something that the UK Government is keen to deliver against.

 

However, soil health provides further benefit to climate change adaptation. Increasing the organic matter within degraded UK soils would provide better defence against flooding by reducing run-off and increasing the water holding capacity of the ground. This will prove essential in the coming years as we face increased frequency of extreme weather events (such as flash flooding) due to climate change. There is now a significant body of evidence to show that sustainable farming practices perform significantly better against a range of other soil health indicators, such as resilience against flooding and drought. By improving soil health upstream, the risk of downstream flooding can be reduced, protecting communities and reducing mitigation costs.

 

As these two standards within the SFI are rolled out, there will surely be further conversation about how ELM can support soil health. Wilson Wraight will be following these conversations closely so that we are best placed to advise our clients about future support. If you are interested in learning more about soil health subsidies and how it might benefit your business, please get in touch.

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Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) set for 2022 early rollout

On Wednesday, the Secretary of State, George Eustice, announced the next stage of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) under the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme.

 

The SFI will be formally launched in 2022 and will be open to any business currently eligible for BPS. While additional standards will be launched at a later date, the initial roll-out of the SFI will have three standards available. These are;

  • Arable and horticultural soil standard,
  • Improved grassland soil standard,
  • Moorland and rough grazing standard.

 

Under each of the standards, there will be three levels available: introductory, intermediate, and advance with payments per hectare increasing as you move through the levels, although you will be required to meet all criteria under each stage before progressing to the next one. Under the Arable and Horticultural Soils standard, the Government has published indicative payment rates of;

  • Introductory: £26 per hectare
  • Intermediate: £41 per hectare
  • Advance: £60 per hectare

 

DEFRA will further expand the scheme with a full range of options by 2024, at which point, it will be opened up to a wider range of farmers and land managers.

 

In addition to the three soil standards, there will also be an Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, which will fund yearly visits from a vet, providing diagnostic testing and advice on improving livestock health and welfare. Payments will range from £269-£775 per annum.

 

The team at Wilson Wraight are actively monitoring the progress of ELM and the SFI in order to ensure that our clients are best placed to benefit from the new schemes. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn additional information. If you have any questions about the launch, please contact our office and we would be happy to discuss the announcement in further detail.