Combinable crops are the core of our farming business. We have a rotation of winter wheat, winter and spring barley, spring oats and winter oilseed rape.
Our soil is a light, easy working and free draining chalk. When this is looked after well, it is capable of producing high yields of top quality produce. Most of the straw is chopped, to act as a soil conditioner, and we apply digestate from our anaerobic digestion (AD) plant to boost soil health further. Our five year rolling average wheat yield is 10.4t/ha, spring barley is 7.5t/ha, winter barley is 8.0t/ha, oats 7.7t/ha and winter rape is 4.1t/ha.
All our crops are grown for specific markets, with most of our wheat delivered to Faccenda in Westbury, the rapeseed to ADM in Erith, and our malting barley either goes to Molson Coors in Burton on Trent or for export through Southampton to northern Europe. Our oats go to Morning Foods in Crewe, Europe’s premier oat miller.
Our arable machinery is tailored to suit our farm type and crop area. Cultivations are carried out using three different cultivators, depending on the season and soil type. Most cultivations are now carried out with a Weaving 8m stubble rake, for light cultivations straight behind the combine. AS well as this we have 8.2m Vaderstad Carrier discs, for moving 50-100mm of soil and straw, and a 5m Vaderstad TopDown for more aggressive cultivations down to 200mm. No ploughing is carried out. The TopDown has a Biodrill seeder which is used for establishing oilseed rape and grass. We have a 6m Amazone Cayena direct drill for planting cereal crops. Most of these machines are pulled with a John Deere 8370 tracklayer (370hp). There is also a John Deere 7310 (310hp) which is mostly used for haulage and digestate spreading. A John Deere 7530 (180hp) and John Deere 6150 (150hp) are used for haulage, rolling (8.2m water filled heavy rolls), digestate spreading and other farm tasks. We have installed RTK GPS to the mainline tractors, sprayer and combine so they follow the same tracks (controlled traffic farming). This has now reduced the amount of wheelings on the fields to just 16% of the field area so we now just cultivate out the wheelings, rake the field and drill. All the spraying is carried out with a Sands self-propelled sprayer. This has a 5,500 litre tank and 27m boom.
Combining is carried out with two New Holland 8.90’s with 9m cutter bars. Grain haulage is done with 18t and 20t trailers, and grain is stored at Codford and Ballington. It is weighed, tested, and then tipped in one of our 15 on-floor stores, totalling 11,000t capacity. 13 of the stores have cold air high volume air drying with gas humidity control. The rapeseed is all sold through United Oilseeds in their pools marketing schemes. All cereals are sold through Salisbury Cereals, a small locally based co-op that trades around 35,000t of grain. By using pools marketing, we expect to receive a “good average” price each year, with no risk of bad debts. There is no management time taken up with trading, so our time can be more profitably used in crop production and business development.