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AgriCulture Live Podcast Transcript - Episode 6

AgriCulture Live Episode 6 with guest & Nuffield Scholar - Andrew Sincock from Agriton
“Low Input Farming Systems”

Rebekah :0:02

Hello and welcome to Agriculture Live. My name is Rebekah Shields, I'm from Agricultural Recruitment Specialists and today I'm joined by Andrew Sincock, and we'll be talking about low-input farm systems. If you've got any questions or comments, please post them in the chat and we will come to them at the end. So, Andrew, would you like to introduce yourself?


Thank you very much. Yeah, hi everyone, my name is Andrew Sincock and I am the director and joint owner of a number of businesses, the main one being Agriton, with Agro-Vital behind. So yeah, working in the agricultural sector, but Cornish, born and bred from the Southwest, hence the slight twang that you might just be able to pick up on. I grew up on my grandparents dairy beef and arable farm, before going into agriculture myself and working my way up to my current position.

Rebekah :1:02

Great stuff. So you're a Nuffield scholar, aren't you Andrew? So could you tell us about that, because some people won't know at all, who are listening, what a Nuffield scholar actually is.Andrew:1:17

So the number of times I've been asked this and I should know it off by heart. Nuffield scholarship is a pot of money that gets given to about 20 scholars each year in the UK and with this little pot of money they have to go off and travel internationally to study a particular topic that is of interest to them. So they study a topic, they get given some money and the aim is that they bring back the newfound knowledge and experience that they've gathered from across the world, bring it back to the UK and then share that knowledge and information with farmers and anyone involved in the food and farming. So it could be food related, it could be agricultural related. There's a lot of people that do topics on people and management of people. So, yeah, really broad brush in regards to topics, but it's a scholarship for you to go learn, study and then bring back that knowledge to share with others.

Rebekah :2:21

So how do you get to be a Nuffield scholar?


So it's a really rigorous and quite difficult sort of application process. You have to send off a really detailed application which includes, you know, your title, background of yourself, also the title that you're looking at, studying working titles, some research. You've also got to identify countries and places where you want to visit and why you want to visit them. And then you have - If you're lucky enough to be selected, you get invited to a formal interview in London in front of a selection panel where they effectively grill you for about 20, 20 minutes, half an hour before they then choose the lucky ones, and I believe they have at least 100 people apply every year.

Rebekah :3:18

I was going to ask you that, yeah, how many people apply? I mean it's very prestigious then.


It is. It is and they've actually just increased the number of scholars that they're accepting this year. So 2024 scholars I'm a 2023, but 2024, there are 24 different scholars, whereas in my cohort there was only 18. So they are increasing the number and that's to do with the demand, the number of people that are applying and the quality of the applicants. So you know there's a whole range is in my cohort there's two, two practicing doctors. There is a chief policy advisor to the government in regards to agriculture. So really high level civil servant. We've got farm managers, estate managers, farm owners, business owners, vets. You know the real cream of the crop, if you will, in regards to agriculture.

Rebekah :4:12

Fantastic, and how do they get their funding?


So originally it was a guy called William Morris, who people might recognise that name from things like the Morris Minor or Nuffield tractors he actually went to I think it was like 1913, he went to America and visited the Ford factory and effectively learned how to mass produce vehicles. He took that knowledge that he gained, brought it back to the UK and obviously then developed, with the Morris Minor, the car, Nuffield tractors as well as a load of other things. So that was how it started, and then he's been looking for sponsors ever since. So, for example, my scholarship is sponsored by McDonald's. Other people can be sponsored by AHDB, Trehane Trust. There's a whole host of different people that sponsor it every year, which allows everybody and people like myself, the opportunity to bring back this knowledge and share it with others.

Rebekah :5:18

So what a great opportunity it is.


Yeah, I'm extremely lucky that the 2024 cohort are currently in Brazil, having what looks like the best time right. Yeah, I'm heading to Japan on Saturday for a week in Japan and a week in Thailand looking at the management of organic manures and how people are recycling organic waste whether that's food waste or on farm waste and turning that into a usable soil amendment, soil fertilizer, soil improver, to ultimately reduce the need for bought in inputs natural farming, if you will.

Rebekah :6:00

Fantastic. So it's all about knowledge sharing, then?


Yeah, yeah, that's the key. So when I finish and it's usually about 18 months, so I'm presenting my findings in Belfast in November this year and I will do a written report, which I believe is 5,000 word written report, on my findings. I'll have to do a YouTube video which is about three minutes long, and then I have to present, in front of a room full of other scholars and industry leaders, my findings, which will also be on YouTube as well.

Rebekah :6:35

So that's my, so it's almost like a TED Talks for agriculture.


Yeah, it really is, but because you're in the room with other Nuffield scholars and other people with a huge amount of knowledge on this particular topic, there's a lot of grilling, so there's a lot of back and forth, there's a lot of discussion and for anybody that's been to a Nuffield conference, they will know how inspiring and challenging just being in that environment is. There's a lot of high level conversations, a lot of communication, a lot of discussions and even a few sort of healthy debates and arguments around the best way of doing things.

Rebekah :7:12

Yeah, and can anyone go?


Anybody can go to the conference. Yeah, absolutely, it's open to anybody.

Rebekah :7:19

Brilliant. So you work for/you're a director of Agriton, so can you tell us what your company does?


Yes, in a nutshell, we manufacture, source and supply a range of agricultural products. So that includes foliar fertilizers, placement fertilizers, feed additives, silage additives, slurry treatments. We even have a horticultural range of products, which means soil amendments, soil improvements, microbial inoculants, a whole host of different products for farm, soil, animal husbandry, arable farmers. Yeah, we've even actually got a range of sort of health products as well. So, like a probiotic drink, we've got microbial cleaning products for people that want to clean their house and use less chemical. So a real range of different products, all of which are the term that I like to use is better alternative. They are products. They're products that people are already using, and I always use the bleach cleaning product, so there's people that are using chemical cleaning products in the home. What we're doing is we're replacing those chemical cleaning products with environmentally friendly alternatives. So we're using microbes in this instance, to create a cleaner that, once it gets flushed down the toilet or down the drain, that bleach or those chemicals aren't going to have a knock on impact on the wider environment.

Rebekah :9:07

And so do you guys cover the UK?


Yep. So we cover the UK, we cover Ireland as well, and randomly we also cover Iceland.

Rebekah :9:18

Wow, where's the Iceland thing come from?


So Agriton first sort of reared its head and was established about 30 years ago in the Netherlands, and a big part of the product range was something called effective microorganisms, so EM for short. And EM was discovered in Japan another reason why I'm off to Japan as well was discovered in Japan in 1982. Mr Heager coined this term effective microorganisms and he supplied these microbes across the world, so they're available everywhere. And when he did that, he set up little companies and little organisations or gave the rights to different companies to cover a specific area. Our area is the UK, Ireland and Iceland.

Rebekah :10:08

Brilliant, very interesting. So what makes you guys stand out from your competitors, would you say?


I think, really simply, it's our focus on the soil, food, animal waste cycle. So everything that we consume as humans, as animals, was grown in the soil, was either then consumed as a plant or fed to an animal that we then eat, and then we produce a significant amount of waste a lot of that being organic waste and how we can then recycle that organic waste back into the soil to grow the next crop. So literally everything we do will not only be good for a particular aspect of that cycle. So the fertiliser is great for the crops, but it's not going to have a negative impact on the animal or the soil. So everything we do is focused on that cycle and benefiting as much of that cycle as possible.

Rebekah :11:13

Okay, so the whole cycle we're looking at there. So today we're going to be talking about low-input farming. Can you tell people listening or watching what actually is low-input farming?


So low-input farming is different things to different people and it's a little bit relative and it does depend on your starting point. But ultimately, low-input farming is trying to reduce the amount of products or inputs brought in, products that you need to use to grow a crop or a yield to produce a yield. So in the UK at the moment there's a lot of farmers that are buying in a lot of products. So whether that's fertilisers, whether that's chemistry, plant protection products, whether that's feed, there's a lot of products that are being brought in to produce a yield, produce an end product that can then be sold. So what we're trying to say with low-input farming is that you reduce the number of those inputs and in some instances you might reduce your yield a little bit, but not always. So you're reducing the amount of inputs that you need to use to produce a yield. At the end of the day, Okay.

Rebekah :12:27

So some people will think this is crazy. Why does this guy promote less inputs when you work for a company that provides inputs?


Yeah, it is. The irony is not lost on me, that's for sure. I'm going to quote a friend of mine and I'm not going to give him any credit for it, because he doesn't give me credit when he quotes me. There's a guy that we work with that sort of believes that people and farmers generally and we're generalizing slightly abide by the principle that "more equals more. You apply more fertilizer, you get more yield. More equals more. That isn't always the case. In some instances, less is more and, given the climactic sort of conditions, the environmental issues that we've got going on, even the commercial issues that we've got going on with the volatility in input prices, we're now in a situation where farmers are trying to produce even more from even less. So we're really, really looking at the efficiencies of these products. We feel, as a company, that we have a product range that operates at really high levels of efficiency. So, for example, our fertilizer is 99.9% efficient. Now we've also got the situation in the world where, okay, yes, we need to try and reduce our environmental impact, but we also need to feed everybody. Everybody talks about 10 billion people in the world by 2050. They all need feeding. So there comes a balance, striking a balance between reducing inputs and the inputs that we do use need to be highly efficient and justifiable, and I feel that we're in that position where we've got a range of products that will provide a better alternative to what's being used already but also produce a yield that's going to feed everybody and make sure that we're all fed, we're all healthy and nobody goes hungry.

Rebekah :14:31

Okay, so you know, are farmers too reliant on inputs? Is that what you're saying, Andrew?


I think so. Yes, it's really simply, and farmers aren't going to like me for saying this, but yes, they are. Coming out of the Second World War, we had the situation where we had huge amounts of ammonium nitrate, so nitrogen fertilizer. It was cheap, they were looking for a market and we were hungry. We came out of the Second World War and Europe was hungry. There was a lot of people. There was a lot of mouths to feed. You know, rationing was a real thing, so the government focused all of its time and attention and resources on producing as much food as we could possibly do, and that ultimately led to an increased reliance on inputs. You know you would have an advisor that would come on farm and tell you that your yields were too low, you need to increase them, you need to use more products and, as a result, all of the plant breeding, all of the chemistry, everything has been tailored. All the advice farmers are given is tailored to using products. It's very rare that we now work with the agronomists or advisors, nutritionists, that are trying to reduce inputs and ultimately, they are salespeople as well. You know a lot of these agronomists are also selling you the chemicals that you need. So if you use more ammonium nitrate, you're going to have weaker plants, you're going to need to use more chemicals and pesticides and insecticides and herbicides. So it's a slippery slope. Unfortunately, we're on that slippery slope, but I do feel that we've realized the wrongs, if you will, and we're now in a position where we can rectify them, change our farming methods and ultimately reverse some of the damage that has been caused by agriculture, and we have to hold our hands up and admit that. But we are in a position and we're probably the only industry and I genuinely mean that, the only industry that can actually have a positive effect on climate.

Rebekah :16:36

Yeah, I was going to say what are the benefits of using less inputs?


There's two. It's my granddad - always used to say, "the less you spend, the less you have to earn to make money. That was his ethos and it's the same in farming. If you more equals more, well, it doesn't If you get more yield. The only way you can really get more yield is by using more fertilizer. Well, that fertilizer comes at a cost, so you're spending more to earn a little bit more, but actually your gross profit or your gross margins might not be much different. In some instances actually spending less will actually increase that gross margin. So sometimes less is more. And the second thing, apart from the economics of it, is the environmental impact. If you're using less product, you're going to be having a smaller footprint because you're going to have less carbon being used to get that product on your farm and in agriculture. There's a guy called George Montbier who's extremely controversial, but in his book Regenesis he talks about ghost acres. How many ghost acres does your farm need to survive? Meaning, how much feed are you buying in? How much feed is being grown on another farm to feed your animals? That's what he considers ghost acres and that's the same with a footprint If you're having to buy in products, feed, fertilizers to keep your farm going, then your environmental impact is huge. So that's where that cycle that we talk about, that crop, soil, crop, animal waste cycle, is so important, because if we can close the loop, we can reduce our carbon footprint and that's a huge win.

Rebekah :18:27

Absolutely, Andrew, and I can tell that you're really passionate about this. But what are the disadvantages of using less inputs?


The disadvantage, and the one that's always mentioned, is there's 10 billion people that we're going to need to feed by 2050. That's the argument is that we need to be able to produce food to be able to feed everybody. Poverty is a thing already. It's 2024. I never thought that at this point in my life we would be talking about poverty in the UK food hunger, food banks. It's embarrassing. As a first world country part of the G7, and we look at the society in which we live, there are people that are relying on food banks just to get by. It's shameful, it really is. That's always the argument that's leveled at reduced inputs is if we reduce the inputs, we reduce our yields. I don't agree with that because in the UK each year we produce 9 million tonnes of food waste. It's roughly 20% of the food that we produce in the UK is wasted Crazy, crazy 20%. You could argue that one in five animals killed is killed for no reason because that food is wasted. When you think about the morality of that, again it's embarrassing, it's shocking. The argument is we need these yields to be able to feed people. I get that and that is still the case. We need to be able to produce yields, but we are currently producing enough food to feed everybody. It's our food distribution that is the problem, and it's also our waste. Wonky carrots, wonky veg we don't want a carrot because it looks a little bit funny. Yet when you go on social media, you see loads of images of wonky veg. That looks quite rude and is quite funny. It's just the attitude that we've got.

Rebekah :20:38

Education in some ways, Andrew, I guess 100%.


There was a poll recently on Twitter I think it was last week. There was a well-known advisor that asked who knows a farmer or who knows somebody that works within agriculture. I think it was only 7% of the people that responded to the Twitter poll or ex-poll, now knew somebody that worked in agriculture. It's that rural divide between the rural communities in the city and the urban communities. There's a real disconnect between where the food comes from and the people that are growing it.

Rebekah :21:18

This is why I'm passionate about it. I wish that agriculture was taught in schools, because it's so important.


Every single school would have a playing field and every single school is producing food waste. It's not difficult and the kids would love having to produce their own compost and feed it to the soil to grow their own fruit, their own veg that they can then eat. I do not know a single child that isn't interested in putting their hands in the soil, playing with earthworms, looking at things and then eating something that they themselves have grown. Every kid is interested in it. You look at every child's book. It almost always includes farm animals or tractors or something Absolutely and it's this whole farm to fork thing, isn't it?

Rebekah :22:11

Them understanding where food comes from. I mean, I've said it before, a lot of children now have no idea even where eggs come from. Now, I know, you know.


I know, on that point exactly, my auntie's converted one of their old barns into a holiday let and they've got a little patting zoo for all the kids that come and stay in there. That's lovely, which is great. So every morning she goes out and says right, kids, come on, let's go out and get the eggs to have for breakfast. And there was one particular lady that said what do you mean? You know, get the eggs, we've got eggs. You know why do the kids need to go? And we've got some. And she goes well, no, we'll get them from the chickens. The mum had no idea that eggs came from these chickens and the chickens were producing eggs. And as somebody that's grown up on a farm, works on farm, that literally blew my mind. But I don't think that is an isolated case. I think that disconnect is huge farm to fork education. It has to be improved, it has to be we are what we eat.

Rebekah :23:13

Absolutely so. Do you think that farmers want to use less inputs?


I think farmers want to be profitable and I also think farmers feel a huge sense of responsibility over their land and they want their land to be healthy. You know, again, my granddad used to say if you look after your cow, the cow will look after you. It's the same with the soil If you look after your soil, your soils will look after you. Whether you're dairy farming, beef arable sheep, you know, it really doesn't matter. The soil is a foundation upon which everything is built. So farmers want to do the right thing, but at the same time, they have, you know, kids. They have a family, they need to feed them, they need to be profitable as an enterprise. So it's this balance and this trade-off between what they're doing that they think will produce the best returns to ensure that they can maintain their selves, their family, their livelihoods. You know, farmers aren't particularly greedy when it comes to these sorts of things. They just want to earn enough money to provide them with the lifestyle that they're happy with. You know, farmers don't do the hours they do because they get paid. Well, they do it because they love it. So just pay them a fair wage and they will do all of these things that we're asking of them. You know, producing good, nutritious, healthy food while also looking after the environment. But unless they get paid properly for doing that, they're always going to be looking for a quick win, and sometimes that is looking to inputs. So it's education not just of the farmers themselves, but the people and the food chains that are involved as well.

Rebekah :25:05

Because I was reading, you know, everywhere that it says oh you know, food's so expensive, but they still reckon we're not paying enough for the food.


No. So I controversially said and a few farmers looked at me and a few farmers will probably comment afterwards that the best thing to happen to agriculture was that the nitrogen price increased as much as it did a few years ago. So in 2022, we saw a huge increase in fertilizer price. All of a sudden, everybody was looking at their nitrogen use and they were going do I need it? Can I get away without it? What else can I do? Can I reuse or can I utilize my slurries? My organic manure is a little bit more efficient to reduce my need and reliance on these inputs. And then, unfortunately, the prices come back down again and because it's cheap, people use it. And that's the thing. Anything that is cheap has no value. So we consider our waste products as waste, so they have no value. Something like fertilizer. If it's really cheap, people will just throw it onto the soil with no regard at all. So I would suggest that we need an actual fertilizer tax on some of these products, some of these chemicals that have a large environmental footprint. We should be looking at taxing them to discourage farmers from using them and to actually focus and sharpen their minds. And there's a wider discussion. Part of my travel ended up in New Zealand, where they've removed subsidies. Farmers no longer receive subsidies and that sharpened the mind. Farmers are no longer relying on governmental subsidies to maintain profitability. So it's a really difficult conversation to have, but I feel that the best thing that and the best farmers that I work with and see regularly are the ones that are open-minded, progressive and always questioning, they question everything. That input why do I need it, what's it going to do for me, what are the environmental benefits or the drawbacks and, ultimately, is it going to be profitable?

Rebekah :27:13

And also, you've got to look at the fact that we've got an ageing farm population, haven't we? So some of these guys and girls have been doing it for a long, long time, and people don't like change, do they?


No, they really don't. I spoke about this a couple of weeks ago. Agriculture is the only industry that is also a culture. That term, the meaning of the word, culture, is something that's been passed down through generations, whether that's your morals, your values, your belief. As a kid growing up on a farm, my grandad was my idol. I looked at what he did and everything he did, everything he said, was absolutely gospel. Nobody could tell me otherwise. Yet when you grow up, you've then got to challenge your heroes, your idols, your teachers, your mentors. You've got to challenge them, and as a young person coming into the industry, that's really difficult. So maintaining that open mind, regardless of your age, is so important. But if you always do what you've always done, you'll always have what you've always had. So you've got to maintain an open mind. You've got to be open to the idea that somebody else might know a little bit more than you, and you've got to be willing to learn from them. And then you don't have to do everything that you're told, but just experiment, have a play, ask why, do your own research and find your own way. Just because your neighbour's doing it doesn't mean it's right for you.

Rebekah :28:41

Absolutely so. What do you think all of this means for recruitment if people are using less inputs on their farms?


Oh, a really good question. There's a number of ways in which you can look at this. You could say well, if we've got less inputs, there's less salespeople, there's less manufacturing jobs, for example. So that means that there's a whole part of the food chain that's going to fall down and break down. But I also feel there'll be opportunities elsewhere. Now, if you look at increasing the amount of take herbicides, for example, weed killers instead of employing a salesperson and the manufacturer employing factory workers, operatives, why doesn't the farmer employ some people to work in the fields and pick weeds? I think there will always be jobs. Agriculture will always need well-trained, practical, hands-on, proactive, hard-working individuals. The jobs might just look a little bit different in 10, 15, 20 years time than what they do now, but they will still be need and that's the key point. There will always be place in agriculture for anybody that's willing to work hard, willing to listen and learn and that is a little bit proactive. I think that is the one thing that I, as a kid growing up. You'll always need a farmer. We will always need food. There will always be a job within agriculture for anybody that wants it.

Rebekah :30:19

And I guess as well, if there's less inputs, there's more manual work. That's being done.


Yeah, I think that's what I was trying to say, but you've just summed it up quite nicely. Fantastic. A lot of these products are ultimately aimed to try and reduce the amount of labour and actually sometimes you know agriculture, you know you need that person. You need somebody in the field digging a hole, looking at the soil, working with the animals, being hands-on. I remember working on a dairy farm where we had heat detection collars, because me as a human, as a herdsman, I was only picking up about 85 to 90% of the cows in heat. Well, when we employed the heat detection system, we were still only getting about 90% of the cows in heat. But if you combine myself and the heat detection, we picked up everything, because the ones I missed the computer is picked up on and the ones the computer has missed I picked up on. So humans, people, staff will always have a role in agriculture. Just what it looks like in 10, 20 years time, I don't know.

Rebekah :31:33

Yeah, sure so does. Or is low input farming the answer to climate change and sustainability?


I think it's one of them. I don't think there's a silver bullet when it comes to reversing climate change. Now, as I said earlier, agriculture, I believe, is the only industry that can actually reverse and even sequester and reduce the effects of global warming and climate change. I genuinely believe that our ability to sequester carbon is with the only industry that can do that. So I think that is it stands us in good stead, but there is no one answer. There is no one farming practice that solves all of those problems. If you stop using fertilizers and you reduce your fertilizer impact or your usage, so you reduce your inputs, but you're still plowing regularly, they're going to offset each other. You know people talk about going to be becoming organic farming. Well, you then need to plow in an organic system to kill weeds, whereas in a conventional system you can use glyphosate and direct drill. Now, both have positives, but both have negatives as well. There is no one answer, which is why, as a company, as an individual, I like to look at the bigger picture. Plowing isn't bad, but if you do it all the time, it is or can be. Glyphosate, if you use it every year, is going to have a negative impact, but occasional use of it is okay. So it's looking at the bigger picture, realizing when a particular practice is needed and when it's going to add real value to that farming enterprise and not doing it too often. So it's like human diet everything in moderation, and it's the same when it comes to reducing our climate footprint. We've got to look at everything we do rather than just one or two specific things, because one or two specific things isn't going to have enough of an impact.

Rebekah :33:41

So what are other good farming practices, would you say?


Well, I think, when it comes to farming practices, there's an awful lot of talk around regenerative farming and those five principles that Gabe Brown sort of set out in his book are a really good place to start. So things like mintill, living roots, cover crops, the integration of livestock and increasing diversity I think these things all play a part and if you can do all of them, you're going to be taking some pretty significant steps forward. If you were to ask me to do one thing, if you could change one thing on farm, it's not going to solve all the problems, but probably the one. The single best thing you can do is look to increase organic matter in your soil. So things like reduced plowing, moving to mintill systems, putting in cover crops, using organic manures Anything you do that increases organic matter in the soil is going to have the biggest impact on your farm, the biggest positive impact on your farm. It's not going to solve all the problems, but it will have the biggest positive impact.

Rebekah :34:52

So what does all this mean for the future? What is the impact of all of this?


Oh, the impact I genuinely believe and this is probably great news for you really is agriculture is a moving beast. The goalposts are moving, our understanding, our knowledge is increasing every single day, which makes agriculture a really exciting place and industry to be working in. So anybody that's looking for jobs, you know, is not sure what to do. There's a lot of really cool, interesting things going on within agriculture, whether that's from using robots to replace tractors and people. You know we've got a lot of focus on robotics through the genomic side of things. So we're looking at, you know, plant breeding, animal breeding, to increase and improve efficiencies, right the way through the market supply chain to the way in which how these things are marketed. So I think it's a really exciting time to be involved in agriculture, what it looks like. I'm a huge believer of keeping things local. I think we should be looking at eating local, shopping local, get to know your local farmer, get to, you know, visit them, buy from them, support them and they, in turn, will support you, and I think that's the key. Localization is it has to be the answer, because importing food from the other side of the world I don't care about economies of scale that is not as good for the environment as me going and buying food from my next door neighbor farmer fresh produce that's come out of the ground that morning or the day before. That's the wind for me, and I think that's what agriculture has to look like moving forward.

Rebekah :36:41

Okay, and so what do you think are the other biggest issues for agriculture going forward?


Politics. I think there's a lot of people making a lot of decisions at the moment. There's a lot of misinformation out there as well. The advisors, the people that these decision makers turn to for advice, isn't always the best advice or the best people to turn to. I think they need to engage with farmers, they need to speak, to spend time in the shoes of farmers. One thing I picked up on my Nuffield travel when it was the quote that everybody was was quoting afterwards was the shoes on the carpet shouldn't tell boots on the ground what to do.

Rebekah :37:39



I think farmers farmers know what they're doing. They know their land better than anybody. If you encourage them to do the right thing, they will do it every day of the week and they will do so gladly. If you promote and reward the bad practices, they'll continue doing that, because they have to be profitable. They have to provide for their family. So encourage the farmers to do the right things and they will gladly do it.

Rebekah :38:10

Andrew, you're a wealth of knowledge. I've loved talking to you today and I'm sure lots of people have got loads out of that. I just wish we had more time. Honestly, we could go on a whole debate about politics. Maybe I'll get you back and we'll talk about that another time. I'm just going to see if we've got any questions or comments. Let's have a look: " Do you think, Andrew, we can provide all the world with enough food in the next 50 years?"


I think we're doing it already. I think we produce enough food today to feed everybody in the world and we could increase that number to 10 billion today and we'd be able to feed everybody. The issue isn't the amount of food that we produce. It's food distribution and food wastage. You could even say overconsumption of food. I think I heard a couple of weeks ago one in four adults in the UK is now considered obese. I am one of those. I am one of those. That's overconsumption, the inability to distribute food across the world fairly and the amount of food that's wasted is the problem. If we can address those three things, we will produce more than enough food for a population twice the size of what it currently is.

Rebekah :39:36

I genuinely believe that with the 2-for-1 offers. Isn't it in the supermarkets? They need to get rid of them? You save 10 p. What a bargain, you know? Another question: "Africa seems to be different. Lots of farmers here can't find labours to work with, hence they result to using chemicals."


Yeah. So, interestingly enough, of all the countries that I've visited as part of my scholarship travels at the moment, Africa is the one that I got most excited by. And I can't generalise too much because obviously Africa is a huge country and I've not been everywhere, but I remember being on a farm in Kenya. This farm was a huge. It was a 4,000 hectare farm. They had 11 hectares of polytunnels growing flowers that were then sold into Europe. They put a value on their roses and if they didn't achieve that value in the markets in Europe, in the Netherlands, they wouldn't send the roses and instead they would compost them through vermicomposting with worms. So they would process the waste, the flowers, with worms, and they would then use that as their fertiliser. So they didn't have to buy in any other fertilisers or chemicals or pesticides, and they were then selling organic flowers because of it. I also saw small farmers that had maybe 20 acres that were reusing and recycling everything. Labour is definitely an issue in those countries, there's no doubt about it, but I have not met a more resourceful group of people than I did in Africa. They are unbelievably resourceful. They put us in the UK to absolute shame, and it's a country and a continent that I'm going to go back to to learn more from, because there's so much more to see. I always say that of all my travels, new Zealand, Netherlands, Netherlands is ahead of the UK in regards to agriculture. New Zealand and the New Zealand farmers admitted to being five, ten years behind Europe. Africa is so far behind in some respects that they're actually ahead. They haven't always made the mistakes in regards to chemical use that we have in the UK or fertiliser use that we have done in the UK. I'm hoping that a large part of Africa will be able to learn from the mistakes that we've had. We've found the solutions before they've even made some of those mistakes. But the crux of it is labour's difficult one. It's coming back to the community. I know there's a lot of people in Africa and there's a lot of families that are very hungry in Africa that if you provided them with the opportunity to work and then receive a fair wage and that wage could be in regards to or in the form of food they would happily help on farms. So there is always a solution. You've just got to find it, but what I found from Africa was it was an amazing continent. There's an awful lot to learn from Africa, and I think the best thing they could do would be to ignore the rest of the world, because they already know what they're doing and they do such a good job.

Rebekah :42:52

And they're already doing the low-input farming 100%.


Yeah, they are, you know. I remember driving around seeing you know fertiliser sales and chemicals and pesticides, but nowhere near to the same extent as what we have in the UK. So a lot of Africa is already doing things the right way. Obviously, there are exceptions, and I think it's creating an environment, working with the community, that's mutually beneficial. I genuinely believe that.

Rebekah :43:22

Yeah, definitely. Thank you, Andrew. It's been great. I've really enjoyed this and I'm sure a lot of people have, hence all the comments that we've had come through. If you've got an interesting topic in agriculture that you'd like to discuss on the show, please get in touch with me. It's agricultural recruitment specialists, which is www.agriRS. com. There's not much else to say other than thank you so much, Andrew, and goodbye from me. Would you like to say goodbye to everybody?


Yeah, I appreciate it. Thank you all for your time today. If you've got any questions and I love, absolutely love, a heated debate so if you think I'm wrong on anything, point it out to me and we can have a conversation, because I will be the first to put my hands up and say I'm not always right either, and there's a lot of things I can learn from a lot of you guys that are listening today.

Rebekah :44:17

We're all learning. Thanks Bye. Andrew, thanks very much. Bye.

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