107# Nov18-Feb 2019 Vol 27-3

107# Nov18-Feb 2019 Vol 27-3
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106# Aug-Nov 2018 Vol 27-2

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105# May-Aug 2018 Vol 27-1

105# May-Aug 2018 Vol 27-1
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I have subscribed to 11 magazines, of which 9 have something to do with farming. The only one I'm savouring from cover to cover is Practical Farm Ideas. The fact that these ideas are from collegues in a somehow similar situation, that they have been realised under farm workshop conditions and have really proven their usefulness in the daily challenge of practical farming, gives your magazine a value I have never found anywhere before. I think your publication should be a must for any farmer who has more in his toolbox than a hammer, chisel and vice grip!

Richard K.Auler, Republic of Ireland

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Talks and Workshops

Evening talks for farmers

Editor Mike Donovan has been talking to audiences as part of his career, first in London with the Economist Intelligence Unit and Financial Tines, and since 1992 as founder editor of Practical Farm Ideas. His talks to farmers are fast moving and highly informative, and feature examples of farm innovations which have cut costs and reduced risks for the farmers concerned. The wide spread of material which is included in Practical Farm Ideas makes it possible to tailor the presentation to the audience’s farming interests. Farmer audiences prefer talks that are positive rather than pessimistic. Many appreciate the chance to ask questions. Talks are accompanied with power point slides - normally around 50. This is made available to attendees who request it. Farmers can post requests prior to the talk.  Group size is normally over 12.

Talks for agricultural college students

Younger audiences need a presentation which keeps up a good pace, and a contents that is understandable. All college talks involve farm finance and costs, and how these are measured and can be reduced.  PFI is the only magazine for farmers with ‘Soil’ in it’s title, and it is a major source of information on cover cropping and zero or no-till. This four year magazine within a magazine has compiled a comprehensive amount of information. Workshop projects are another popular farm topic. Group size is generally 15+

Presentations to farm supply companies

Farming is on the cusp of a technical revolution which will have a major impact on suppliers of machinery, chemicals, finance. Agri-business needs to be aware of the challenges and opportunities, and understand how to embrace change. Events can range from large-scale presentations to more intimate seminar style meetings involving no more than a few top executives. All of these are kept entirely confidential.

Costs and expenses

Travel expenses at 40p/mile from Whitland or Ross on Wye, plus overnight accommodation when needed, either in the local b + b or with a group member. The fee scale is reasonable and is occasionaly waived.   


Talks and presentations come under the following broad headings

  • Cost cutting ideas and methods
  • Soil. Improving soil condition. No-Till farming and Cover Cropping in UK and overseas
  • Getting a start in farming.
  • Farming opportunities in Zambia

Farming opportunities in Zambia

Being selected as a member of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) Media Tour of Zambia in May 2015 and subsequent reseach work has added both an area of interest and knowledge. A country where less than 20% of the farming land is currently under production and where there is an abundance of labour provides opportunities, and Mike can explain these and provide support wanting more.

Mike's biography includes consultant and editorial roles with the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Financial Times. He has addressed audiences of directors and senior managers, yet, as editor of the only farming publication devoted to money saving ideas for practical farmers, he enjoys the craic and challenge of a live audience of farmers in a village pub on a winter evening.
The wealth of material expands to longer workshops in colleges and other organisations. These have been done across England, and as far as the Orkneys and the West of Ireland.

Talks are tailored to the farming audience.

ABOUT Mike Donovan

  • Reading University: BSc (Hons) Agricultural Economics 
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) 1969 - 75
Editor of EIU publication Retail Business
  • Contributor: UNCTAD Conferences in London, Geneva, Madrid and Istanbul
  • Author: 'Consumerism' Encyclopaedia Britannica 1972

  • Financial Times, London 1974
  • Editor Professional Administration

  • Contributor: FT commodities page
  • Dairy farmer, West Wales 1977
  • Winner: Bath & West Show Farmers Brainwaves 1991
  • Publisher: Created Practical Farm IDEAS magazine 1992


The recent development of an expertise in soil and cover cropping methods provides a new topic of immense value and interest.

Agri-businesses wanting to get up to speed on Zero-till and cover crops can book Mike to provide an in-house workshop that looks at machinery requirements, seeds and their mixes as well as their likely impact on farming over the next decade and more.

These are tailored for:

  • farmer groups
  • agri-business, from machinery to fertilser and chemicals, banks, insurers and finance companies
  • colleges, career seekers and others

Finding a career in farming is an essential for many college students. For many years Mike has given presentations to both schools and colleges through the Welsh Government Dynamo scheme (now re-branded 'Go Wales'). Career choices for college students, and further education choices for those in school are important. The opportunities in the industry are often poorly understood by regular careers staff, who find the fragmentation of the industry a major difficulty.

Each issue of Practical Farm Ideas includes a Financial Focus section. Mike Donovan is an agricultural economics graduate (Reading University) and had an early career doing agricultural and food studies as a consultant at the EIU, and also edited their publication Retail Business. Talks on Ag Econ, especially in relation to farm production, have been well received.


In addition to speaking, Mike is an experienced and lively conference chairman. Well versed on the subject he is well capable of bringing a sense of humour to any farming topic, lifting the session and paving the way for speakers to do their best.

    From: Becky Willson
    Subject: RE: FCCT Conference   Date: 4 February 2015 16:51:34 GMT

    HI Mike,

    Thank you very much for chairing the day yesterday, you did a fab job and really 
    added to the day.  I will of course keep you in mind for similar events and that subject
    area is something that we are planning on running an event on in the near future.

    Practical Farm Ideas is a great publication and hope that the sales continue to increase! 

    With kind regards,    Becky


Hi Mike

Thank you so much for coming last night. It was great to meet you and the feedback on the talks has been fantastic. I hope you got back safe last night.

I will have a check with the venue regarding the box of cards and let you know.  In the meantime, I would really like to keep in touch and hopefully meet up again.

Thanks once again for a fun and informative talk.

Best Wishes 

Steven Jones BSc (Hons)

Business Development Director

Ballard Dale Syree Watson LLP          




Speech writing

Fed up with the speech you have been giving audiences over the years? Too busy to find the time to write something fresh? Use the contact details below.

Contact:  Mike Donovan,  Practical Farm Ideas, 11 St Mary's St, Whitland, Carmarthen, SA34 0PY
Email mike@farmideas.co.uk or call/txt 07778 877514 or 01994 240978 so he can see if he can fit you into the diary. 


DIARY 2017:  

Monday, August 7     BBC Farming Today  (2nd part) 

August 2                    Cardigan Show: Sponsor of Commercial heifer class. click

October 1,                  BBC Radio Wales, 

October 11,                Gloucestershire Grassland Society Evening talk

October 30,                Farm Safety Day, Stareton Hall, Stoneleigh Park

November 8 and 9     Farm Business Show, NEC Birmingham

November 15             Evening speech to BDSW Accountants, Worcester

November 22             Herefordshire Rural Business Hub 

December 6                East Radnor Grassland Society 

December 11             Huers Farm Discussion Group, Bodmin, Cornwall

February 13               Evening talk at Harborough Magna, Rugby

Recent speaking engagements:

2015 Conference for the Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit
Leicestershire Agricultural Machinery Society
Farm Business Innovation Show, Olympia, London
Farm Safety Partnership Workshop
Derbyshire Grassland Society

Cowbridge Farmers Club
Lancashire Farm Machinery Society
Chairman, CCH Annual Rural Business Conference, Stoneleigh  2008
Loddon Farm Machinery Club
Luneside Farmers Club
Thornbury Farmers Discussion Group
Stewartry Young Farmers Club
Dalston Discussion Group
Exmoor Forward farming Discussion Group
Carmarthenshire Smallholders
Fylde Farm Machinery Club

Regular press columns
Dairy Farmer - monthly column
Profi International - monthly two page feature
Irish Examiner - weekly farming ideas column

Occasional contributor
Tenant Farmers Association Newsletter
Country Smallholding
Dexta Cattle Society news
Countryside Magazine
The Countryman

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Farm Ideas Blog:

Facing up to the Challenges

(Added Nov 30, 2017)



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