Secretary Generals notes – January 2024

Hello and welcome to my first ‘Notes from a small Island’ (with apologies to Bill Bryson).


What does the incoming Secretary General do? It’s question I have asked myself for several months now. 


One of the things which attracted me to the role was the opportunity to support a European network of professionals. Agricultural engineering is dear to my heart, both as a practitioner and through my longstanding involvement with the Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE) in the UK.


The need for engineers does not go away, with climate change, global supply challenges, energy, food and water shortages all vying for attention, the role of the agricultural engineer and the development of a community of practice to support this work has never been greater.


I attended the Oxford Farming Conference at the start of January, and Geoff Sansome, the conferences incoming chair shared some thoughts from the programme of the 1995 conference when he first attended. Attracting, developing, and keeping talented young people within agriculture and the wider industry being a key theme. Sound familiar?


Likewise at the LAMMA 24 machinery show in the UK a couple of weeks ago, I was on a panel discussing the issues around trailer safety, and the need for training, technology, and the law to go hand in hand. In the UK, many tractors are capable of 60kph plus speeds towing trailers with max laden weights more than 30t. 


Now this is an issue when the law in there UK states that a tractor, unless it has a suspended rear axle cannot tow at faster than 40kph, and maximum Gross Train Weight (ie the mass of the tractor, trailer, and load) can be no more than 31 t. I know for instance in Germany that tractor licences are banded on speed of the tractor in question and I wonder how other European countries deal with these technical issues?


I would appreciate any news from your own national professional body, so that we can pass this on and encourage members across all organisations.


Please bear with me, as this is all new and I am an innovator in mistake making (I keep making new ones!). 


Finally, I would like to thank Julia, Aneta and Barbara for keeping me on the straight and narrow with these first faltering steps into the role.


I look forward to working with you.