A new and exciting farmer-based training scheme has been established by Keith Norman, who has over 40 years of experience growing crops, 30 of which were spent as technical director at Velcourt. Now an independent consultant, Mr Norman is heading up this strategic training and discussion group, which is backed by leading agronomy provider, Farmacy.
“As growers look to make the best decisions within a particular set of challenges for their businesses it is essential that they really look at how and what the impact of their decision making has on the bottom line – at a strategic technical level. This is what Claritas is all about,” he said.
He explained that members of Claritas will have access to the very latest relevant agronomic information while also spending time in the field looking at crops and discussing technical direction. He also pointed out that Claritas is not about the specific field to field recommendations – this will remain the role of the agronomist.
“So for example we will be considering new ways of improving crop potential whilst also looking at how new and remote infield technologies could bring benefits- both in the classroom and in the field,” Mr Norman said.
“Claritas is delivered in small groups with growers from the same locality, there are three meetings per year. There is no requirement to be BASIS qualified, but it does help to be keen in the technical aspects of crop production. BASIS points are also achieved through attendance.”
Opinions from members
Bedfordshire farmer, Andrew Robinson, believes that Claritas provides an invaluable opportunity to evaluate decisions and push boundaries for better technical answers. He is already signed up for the scheme and will act as leader of one of the first groups.
“It’s too easy to get embroiled in the day to day of farm management, but its really important to take a step back and really look deep into what we are doing and the impact of those practices on our profitability, and how we can improve on what we are already doing,” he said.
“With a constant thirst for knowledge, access to an experienced technical expert such as Keith Norman is invaluable in my mind. Both my farm operator and I are already BASIS and FACTS qualified but we still find there is much to learn from this type of meeting.
“Bringing together growers from the same region is useful as we tend to have similar issues and it makes discussions more relevant. “
Tim Harper is the commercial director of Blankney Estates and has also joined Claritas, leading the Lincolnshire Group. He said: “Claritas provides an opportunity to challenge established practices and ensure that the very best agronomic knowledge is being employed across the business.
“I have considerable respect for Keith’s highly independent and technical advice having worked with him previously. It’s important as a manager to be abreast of everything that is going on and to be able to challenge the agronomy decisions that are being made on the farm – and I believe it actually makes for a healthier relationship with our agronomist!
“The broader approach of Claritas covers more than straightforward crop management strategies to wider environmental land management and business support, which is invaluable,” he added.
“The format of the training days works well as once the technical support is covered in the mornings, it’s possible to go out to the field in the afternoons and really challenge what the morning’s session has covered.”
For more information go to www.claritas.org.uk