Cornwall agronomists, Paul Gregory


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Agrovista’s locally-based agronomists have an outstanding track record with Cornwall’s farming community, and demand for their skills is set to increase to help farm businesses thrive in an uncertain future.

Having an extra pair of eyes and ears is becoming increasingly important to farmers facing a range of challenges to their businesses, including more extreme weather triggered by climate change, the loss of key plant protection products, tighter environmental legislation and reduced support payments.

To help farmers meet these challenges, Bude-based agronomist Paul Gregory’s role is also evolving. While he still spends most of his time ensuring his customers’ crops reach their full potential, he is also helping farmers manage their businesses more efficiently and more profitably.

London-born Paul spent summer holidays on his Cornish grandparents’ farm, which sparked his love for the industry. “I moved down to Cornwall once I left school, and worked on various farms in the south west before joining West Devon and North Cornwall farmers and then Mole Valley Farmers Group,” he recalls.

“I spent several years working for them and in other sales roles across southern England before returning to Cornwall, when the opportunity came to join Agrovista, who were looking to expand in the area.”

Over the past seven years he has been building a loyal customer base across north-east Cornwall and north west Devon, thanks to a blend of local experience, customer-based knowledge and trusted relationships.

This year has seen a further rise in customer numbers, driven by impending changes to farm support schemes, which will increasingly be based on environmental stewardship rather than acres owned.

“It’s not just arable farmers – dairy, beef and sheep producers are also looking at various environmental income streams,” says Paul. “Working with James Siggs of Agrovista Rural Services, we can advise on the right schemes to help improve stewardship.

“There are opportunities out there that not only deliver environmental benefits, but contribute to a farmer’s core business as well. This a new challenge for everyone and needs to be managed correctly.”

Soil health will be a key route to securing payments, and Paul is involved in Agrovista’s Soil Health programme, which aims to optimise the productivity and sustainability of soils via a wide-ranging suite of measurements backed by expert interpretation and advice.

Legislation is another key area. “It can be a real minefield. Take the new Farming Rules for Water – a lot of people don’t realise they can no longer do things they used to take for granted. There is a bigger role coming for agronomists, helping out with advice, management and record keeping.”

Paul’s core business remains advising on a wide range of crops, including winter and spring cereals, grass, maize and other forage.

He offers a range of independent advice, supported by the latest research at Agrovista. His services include full field-walked agronomy, including recommendations on a range of inputs including agrochemicals, fertiliser, varieties and seed and, increasingly, a range of leading biostimulants to help boost crop performance.

Relationship building is the key to success, says Paul. “It’s all about being able to have those honest discussions, playing Devil’s advocate sometimes and getting farmers to think outside the box.

“For example, it has been common practice for dairy farmers to rent extra acres to meet their forage needs, but the ground is often growing the wrong species and has been mined of nutrients. By investing in good forage mixtures and appropriate inputs on their own land, they have more control and end up growing more bulk off fewer acres.

“I am very lucky to be working in an area with such variety and being out and about talking to great people. I get great pleasure in getting involved and sharing in their success.”