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Harper Forum report - Michael Alsop of Väderstad

Posted 26 October 2010

By Harper Forum Reporter, Charlotte Harley

The second Harper Forum of the term packed out the West Midlands Regional Food Academy, thanks to a visit from Michael Alsop of leading soil management company, Väderstad.

Entitled 'establishing the future', the talk began with an introduction to the company and it's global status.

Väderstad remains a private, family run business that originates from Sweden and has many bases across Europe, North America and Western Australia. They plan to expand into Russia and Romania in the near future.

At present, they employ more than 450 people in the UK and a further 160 in the subsidiaries, with the UK factory base covering 4.9 hectares of industrial enterprises and development labs, including a rare 3D laser facility.

It is predicted that with the UK, Väderstad will control 20.5% of their market for 2010.

Mr Alsop, Managing Director of the company, continued the forum by discussing ‘drivers of industrial change’ which included commodity price, global population, beer consumption, environmental changes and technological drivers.

He highlighted that farmers are adapting to these drivers and that their crops, soils and machinery has adapted in order to allow them to do so. For example, environmental issues could result in shorter time periods for crops - planting and harvest, and therefore require an easy, quick way of achieving this whilst not damaging the soil resource.

This is where Väderstad comes in. Mr Alsop demonstrated the benefits of the zero tillage, Seed Hawk and Seed Hawk Europe and its growing uptake. He believes this to be because the business has these main objectives:

• Save diesel / fuel
• Save time
• Save investment
• Save soil moisture and infrastructure
• Prevent erosion
• Higher organic matter
• Lower CO2 in the atmosphere
• Increase fertile soils.

Aside from the zero tillage, they have also released a new model of the combination drill widely used in Scotland - the Spirit SD Combi. These innovations although ‘specialists’ could become ‘a universal solution’.

Next week’s forum features Mr Tom Hind from the National Farmers Union (NFU) talking primarily about the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms of 2013.

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