Farmers in Wales looking to improve their technical or business knowledge in multiple sectors of agriculture can learn new skills and practices at a series of Farming Connect ‘masterclasses’ that are taking place across Wales in the coming months.
Some of the UK’s leading experts on topics ranging from the use of genetics and technology in sheep farming to the legal responsibilities that farm employers have to their staff will share their advice at these meetings.
The series kicks off on 5 December with Matt Harding, of Bentley Suffolks, the 2021 Farmers Weekly Sheep Farmer of the Year, discussing how he has developed his family farm to meet changing demands.
Matt combines genetics and technology to produce quality pedigree Suffolks and Aberblack rams on a forage-only system.
He will present at several locations, starting at Celtic Royal Hotel, Caernarfon, at 7pm on 5 December.
There will also be opportunities to hear from Matt on 6 December, at 11.30am, at the Talbot Hotel, Berriew, and later that day, at The Plough Hotel, Llandeilo, at 7pm.
December also sees a masterclass in business, specifically targeted at farmers who employ staff or self-employed workers and who want to develop an understanding of their legal responsibilities to their workforce.
This event, which will be held at the Wolfscastle Hotel, Wolfscastle, Pembrokeshire, on 5 December at 7pm will be delivered by Lesley Rossiter, of Landsker Business Solutions.
The business theme continues later in the month with a Master Business course, where farmers can get advice on how to review the financial position of their businesses.
“Understanding farm finances and financial performance is essential before making long-term decisions,’’ says Menna Williams, of Farming Connect.
This course, which will also provide an insight into how lenders make lending decisions, will take place at the Eagles Hotel, Llanrwst, on 12 December at 7.30pm, and will be delivered by Dewi Davies, of Pennant Finance.
December also sees two events targeted at dairy beef systems when Marc Jones, of Trefnant Hall Farm, Berriew, will share his wealth of experience in sourcing, rearing and finishing dairy beef cattle.
These two events will take place on 13 December at Pencoed College, Bridgend, at 7.30pm, and on 14 December at the Ffostrasol Arms, Ffostrasol, Llandysul, at 7.30pm.
For beef farmers with suckler herds, a masterclass in fertility will take place on Anglesey on 10 January 2024, when suckler beef producers Llion and Sian Jones – Moelogan Fawr, will discuss how they have improved fertility in their Stabiliser herd.
They will be joined by their farm vet, Iwan Parry, of Dolgellau Vets, at the event at Nant Yr Odyn, Llangefni, which will start at 7.30pm.
For farmers or new entrants who are considering diversifying into horticulture, an interactive session will take place at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, Llanarthne, to give guidance on the first steps and considerations of launching a growing enterprise.
Master Horti, on 8 February, will outline the support and services available to help make the new venture a success too.
Also at the National Botanic Garden, this time on 20 February, at Master Integrated Pest Management (IPM), industry experts and experienced farmers will discuss the fundamentals of managing weeds, pests and diseases in different farm settings and explore how to start an IPM plan.
In January and February, Heather Wildman will share her tips on how farm businesses can attract and retain good staff.
Heather has a wealth of experience and will provide a checklist on how to be a good employer and how to motivate the workforce.
“This masterclass would be equally beneficial to family farms and farms who employ staff,’’ Menna explains.
There are two dates and venues to choose from – 31 January 2024 at the Nanhoron Arms Hotel, Nefyn, or 1 February, at Boderw, St Asaph, both at 7.30pm.
For farmers who want to improve their understanding of their carbon footprint there are three masterclasses targeted at them in February.
Non Williams, Farming Connect Carbon Specialist Officer, will deliver an interactive workshop focussing on breaking down the carbon jargon and will help farmers learn about the significance of the carbon cycle of their farms, and how they can influence it to help reduce their carbon footprint in the future.
These events will take place at Llety Cynin, St Clears, on 6 February, at Elephant and Castle, Newtown, on 8 February, and at Nanhoron Arms Hotel, Nefyn, on 20 February, all at 7.30pm.
There is also an event for poultry farmers, with consultant Chris Duller giving his advice on how they can effectively manage their manure and maximise farm business efficiency.
This event at the Elephant and Castle, Newton, will take place on 9 January at 7pm.
Nutrients will be the theme too at Master Slurry, a workshop taking place in Newtown on 18 and 19 January, between 10am and 4pm. Keith Owen and Chris Duller will help farmers understand how they can maximise the value of on-farm nutrients, including digestate and poultry manure, farm infrastructure and methods of economically reducing slurry and dirty water production. They will also provide advice around the Control of Agricultural Pollution Wales Regulations.
For dairy farmers, there is a masterclass on lameness, with vet Cath Tudor, of Prostock Vets, delivering a practical session on mobility scoring. There will also be a foot trimming demonstration, as well as a discussion around maintaining healthy feet in dairy stock.
This event will take place on 20 February at 11am at Trebersed Farm, Travellers Rest, Carmarthen.
For more information about these events and to book a place, please visit the Farming Connect website https://businesswales.gov.wales/farmingconnect/whats-on