Press releases and other news

The NAAC is regularly featured in the agricultural press and here are our latest news stories and articles.

Bigger Seed Bring Better Results

16 June 2021

A new independent trial carried out by the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) has proven that larger seed sizes of typical UK varieties of winter wheat and spring barley resulted in higher emergence rates, increased initial vigour, longer initial root and shoot lengths, higher root and shoot mass, greater initial tillering and greater initial leaf number.

Carried out by SGS in greenhouse conditions in early 2021, the results highlighted that seed size is a vital factor in potential yield, whether using farm saved or certified seed.

Commenting, Rob White, NAAC Seed Chairman said, ‘Farmers are increasingly questioning the need to have farm saved seed treated and cleaned. However, these results clearly highlight the importance of only filling the drill with viable seed. Larger seed sizes were proven to have higher germination, higher vigour and improved emergence compared to small seed sizes of the same lot.’

Based on the results in this trial, it’s expected that a crop drilled with smaller seed, or an uncleaned seed batch would result in a lower yield and perhaps lower quality of harvested grain than a crop drilled from a larger or cleaned seed batch. Small seeds in the drill are then effectively taking up space that could be occupied by a larger, more productive product.

Rob continued, ‘It is vital that farmers look hard at their farm-saving economics. Whilst costs can be cut by barn dipping, this may be a very short-sighted gain. Our results clearly show that seed that is cleaned and of larger size selection will put the crop at a competitive advantage by having initial growth gains. These bigger leafed and high tillering plants will also compete more vigorously with nuisance weeds like black grass. In field conditions, this is also likely to make smaller seeds, with a lower emergence rate and growing more slowly, more susceptible to pressure from pests and diseases which could further reduce crop vigour.’

Farmers should consider using a professional mobile seed contractor if intending to farm save, not only to select out larger more productive seeds, but also to remove weed seeds, stones and rubbish to maximise yield potential. Agronomic progress is moving on at a pace and growers must start with the basics of selecting the best possible seed sample to drill.

Locate an NAAC mobile seed processor at Find a Contractor.

New NAAC Contracting Survey on Prices 2021

19 May 2021

A new survey of contracting prices for 2021-22 has been published here by the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC), giving a UK national average to help contractors and farmers benchmark when working out their individual costings for an operation.

Spiralling input costs over the last year have continued to apply pressure across the industry and, whilst prices have increased overall, contractors struggle to keep pace. Commenting Matt Redman, NAAC Chairman said, ‘Many contractors report they have difficulty increasing their prices due to local competition. However, the cost of machinery has gone up 40% in the last ten years, with machinery prices rising, some up to 8% in the last year, and if farmers are demanding a reliable, efficient, safe and innovative service they must expect to pay a sustainable rate.’

The expectations on contractors continue to escalate. Environmental awareness, specialist training, record keeping and the latest technology on board, all require a new level of expertise and equipment. Farmers are increasingly reliant on their contractor to take on roles in the business that they may no longer have the labour, skills or machinery to complete. However, it is vital that everyone works in partnership to ensure businesses can remain viable, with longevity. For a successful contractor, that means costing individual operations carefully and accurately.

‘Our industry has the potential to really drive forward agricultural productivity, in an environmentally-sound format,’ said Matt Redman. ‘We are investing heavily in new technology, but we must be vigilant and ensure we can afford the costs of running a business, whilst remaining at the forefront of innovation.’

The results of the survey are a useful benchmark to the industry but will vary significantly with region, soil type, customer size and machinery, and customers should expect to see prices quoted higher or lower. While cost is important to any business, farmers should also be considering the quality, reputation and reliability of their contractor to get a job well done.

The full guide can be found here.

Overseas Shearers welcome and Covid Guidance Published for Shearers

31 March 2021

The NAAC is delighted to announce that international sheep shearers have been granted a special concession to be able to enter the UK this year, offering a vital source of professional and experienced staff to assist UK contractors.

Whilst it will be difficult for as many overseas shearers as normal to travel this year, due to Covid restrictions, this opens the door for those who are now able to come and assist our national effort in getting UK sheep shorn safely and efficiently.

Commenting Jill Hewitt, NAAC Chief Executive said, “It is a big relief that the concession is now in place and we can start putting together the necessary paperwork for shearers to safely enter the UK”.

This will be another difficult year, working within Covid restrictions, but the NAAC has liaised with Government and UK industry to publish a Covid Shearing Checklist to ensure that shearers, wool handlers and farmers co-operate to keep everyone operating safely and to high standards of animal welfare.

It will inevitably be a slower year; farmers are encouraged to get in touch with their shearers early to plan work, and make certain everyone collaborates so that shearing can run as smoothly as possible.

The Covid Shearing Checklist and Shearing Register can be found here.


  1. Non-visa nationals will be able to travel to the UK, particularly coming from Australia and New Zealand, between 1 April and 30 June. All those entering will only be allowed to stay for a three month maximum period (i.e. the latest expiry of leave would be 30 September), after which they are required to leave.
  1. Shearers arriving in the UK in 2020 will need to satisfy an immigration officer they are here, for a temporary period, to be employed as a sheep shearer. The NAAC is supplying its members with the necessary paperwork to smooth the entry process and is requesting that the NAAC is notified of all shearers visiting the UK so that rapid assistance can provided if any issues arise at customs. Covid restrictions must also be complied with.
  1. Specific entry requirements include:
  • The applicant is genuinely seeking entry for the purpose of undertaking employment, or providing services, as a sheep shearer, and must supply an appropriate contract of employment and
  • The applicant will be able to maintain and accommodate himself without recourse to public funds, and
  • The applicant will leave the UK at the end of their stay, and
  • The applicant arrives in the UK for this purpose between 1 April and 30 June.

Agricultural contractors have access to grant funding in 2021

2 December 2020

The NAAC is delighted that Defra will offer new Farming Investment Fund grants to agricultural contractors in 2021 and beyond. As part of the historic new Agriculture Act 2020, which will change the face of farming for the next generation, this is a momentous decision that will impact on contractors now and in the future.

Commenting Jill Hewitt, NAAC Chief Executive said, ‘Contractors have historically been overlooked in Government policy and the NAAC has worked hard to make certain that we are finally acknowledged and can access vital funding to help drive forward the industry. This will help contractors invest, bringing forward new technology and environmentally beneficial machinery to market, allowing landowners to minimise capital investment whilst sharing contractor’s kit. It also sets an important precedent, recognising the importance of professional contractors in modern farming.’

Contractors have been specifically excluded from farming grants in the past, and the NAAC has been lobbying for years for official recognition of this sector as a vital and integral part of UK agriculture. 

Over 91% of farmers use a contractor and are increasingly reliant on the external input of specialist machinery, skills and labour. It is no longer necessary, or financially viable, to run all machinery in-house and contractors can bring new ideas and technology, fast-tracking access for farmers and driving productivity forward.

‘Professional contractors can offer solutions to many of the current environmental and productivity dilemmas’, said Jill Hewitt. ‘They can invest in high-tech equipment (eg low emission slurry spreaders) and it is right that they should have access to grant funding to spread the investment and expertise over a greater number of farms’.

When it comes to ‘public money for public goods’, the NAAC believes that contractors will offer a significant and sound investment.

The new Farming Investment Fund grants are expected to support innovation and productivity. This will open for applications next year and will be used to offer grants for equipment, technology and infrastructure for the future. It will be a competitive scheme split into two funds, for lower-value and higher-value investments, with grants available for a proportion of the total cost of investment

The fund will provide targeted support to businesses so that they can invest in equipment, technology, and infrastructure that will improve their productivity and deliver environmental and other public benefits.

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