Sunday, 24 July 2016

Your feedback on a successful 'SPot Farm Super Tuesday' in the sunshine in Staffordshire

We've reached the end of our series of SPot Farm 'Super Tuesdays' this month culminating with the Open Day at SPot Farm West in Staffordshire. 

The event took place in the blazing sun on Tuesday 19 July with presentations at six field-based demonstrations sites and two topics indoors under some much-welcomed shelter.

A huge thank you to everyone who made it the success it was, a large and complex event with multiple tour groups percolating through all the demo sites across the day. 

At the end, we asked attendees to complete a feedback form and a quiz - the latter aiming to draw out some of the key learning points from the day.

The quiz is illustrated below, so you can see if your results were those the researchers agreed with (the final question - 'Can you make potatoes calorie free by cooking?' was not scored - being a humourous addition to keep you on your toes - though still produced some interesting responses!) 

The feedback forms showed generally very positive views - thank you for taking the time to fill those in where you could!

Credit for the great response must be given to the host farmers, James and Sam Daw, who continue to be an inspiration to the industry; and of course to the dedicated researchers and presenters who really delivered, not just on the day but throughout the season, setting up the demonstration sites and analysing the results, working collaboratively and closely with James and Sam at all times.  

If we could pull out one area to work on, its that a few attendees said there was not enough time for discussion at each station. A great problem to have, proving that the topics had a lot to be said about them!

Group leaders certainly didn't like cutting short discussion in order to move groups on and fit the timetable, however this is a feature more inherent in the Open Days, where there are many stations to cover in order to give everyone access to the range and breadth of work that is going on.

One of the ways we've recognised this is in having events for specific themes or industry groups, such as the PepsiCo visit led by Gary Collins on the day immediately after (July 20th).  Such events do not cover all the demonstrations, just those of most relevance to the group concerned, so there is more time for discussion.  

There are also, of course, the monthly farm walks which are limited to smaller numbers and touch on areas most appropriate for that point in time in the season. 

The next ones scheduled for SPot Farm West are on 19 August and 8 September and you should definitely come along if there's something from the Open Day you felt you wanted to explore further (register at 

And do also get in touch with me ( to discuss what we can offer with respect to engaging with any of the work at SPot Farm West. 

Real value from making change

One key question on the feedback form was 'As a result of visiting SPot Farm West today, which of the following management practices could you improve by acting on advice discussed today?'

Of the 24 growers and agronomists who responded to this question the numbers answering 'yes' were:

  • biofumigation - 15
  • chitting -16
  • cover crops - 14
  • cultivations and irrigation - 17
  • drip irrigation - 9
  • greening and seed rates -15
  • nematicide incorporation - 14
  • storage - 13

It's fantastic to see how many of the demonstrations clearly provide practical and real value in terms of helping you make changes for the benefit of your businesses and the industry as a whole.

Two of the demonstrations, chitting and cover crops, were new to SPot Farm West this year, and generated some great discussions, so these will be featured in more detail in additional blog posts from me over the next few weeks.

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