Mike Donovan, a Member of the Guild and editor of Practical Farm Ideas, was awarded one of five places on an all-expenses paid visit to the Agromek show in Denmark, arranged through the European Federation of Agricultural Journalists (ENAJ). Mike is pictured right with Esa Mustonen, editor of the Finnish magazine Käytännön Maamies.
In his submission to be considered for nomination by the Guild, Mike pointed out: “I am a full time agri journalist not connected with any suppliers of products to farmers, and because Practical Farm Ideas does not carry any advertising, my research costs come from the magazine’s budget. So the chance to have a place on this trip to the Agromek show would be a great opportunity for me.”
Mike’s magazine is a 48-page quarterly paid-for publication that publishes farmers’ Made it Myself projects, mostly involving modifications to production machines to improve them in some way or adapting a piece of machinery to do a different job. Recent projects range from a home-built pusher to pile grain in a store to a self-designed and installed milking parlour.
Content also includes Farm World stories from UK and overseas and Financial Focus articles on tax, money management and business diversification, as well as specialist supplements – a recent Soil+ supplement reported on cover crops and farmers switching from conventional to minimum tillage.
Mike’s coverage of machinery topics made Agromek a good candidate for a visit as most manufacturers are represented as what is the Danish national indoor show. It is held in November every other year (alternating with Agritechnica, the big machinery show in Germany) and in addition to a large number of machinery exhibitors among the 555 stands in a dozen halls, the Danish event also has national livestock show classes.
The 50,000 visitors come from across Europe but particularly Scandanavia, and the show reflects the importance of farming to the economy of Denmark where farmers are encouraged to invest and raise production, while at the same time reducing their environmental impact.
Regulations controlling the use of nitrogen are particularly severe, to the extent that milling wheat is no longer a feasible crop; malting barley is now going the same way. The demand for feed from the country’s pig and dairy farms provides a ready market for the arable sector.
Danish farming is quite traditional, with ploughing the preferred way to control blackgrass and other weeds, but renewable energy through biogas as well as wind is successfully promoted to farmers. Pig farrowing crates and veal production are common and although dairy herd size is smaller than the UK, the farms are well equipped.
The Agromek show is very much an event to celebrate the progress of the industry, and farming’s continuing appeal as a lifetime career. The average age of show-goers is considerably lower than at an equivalent UK event.
As for the facilities for journalists, the press office is well equipped and staffed, reports Mike, whose social highlight of the trip was the opening dinner for 1550 guests with a menu of smoked salmon, beef fillet, pastries and three wines: “A gastronomic tour de force followed by a brilliant entertainer and pianist.”
Mike adds: “The event was well worth visiting, so many thanks to the Guild for forwarding my application. It was a great opportunity to see some new farm kit and meet European journalists.”