Adrian has been Farm Manager for the Apley Estate, just north of Bridgnorth in Shropshire, since 2011. He is responsible for 650ha of arable cropping. He runs a five-year rotation on the predominantly medium soils, which includes wheat, barley, oilseed rape, oats and potatoes. A policy of minimal cultivation with rotational ploughing is employed and most of the labour and machinery required is run in-house. Grain storage and marketing is done on farm and the farm uses an independent agronomist. In addition to the arable land, the farm includes 300ha of grassland which is used for a suckler cow herd and a beef finishing unit. Tack sheep graze the grassland and stubble turnips during the winter. Adrian would like to look at variable rate nitrogen, alternative break crops, grass weed control and cover crops during the programme.
Andrew Howard farms 345ha in a family partnership near Ashford, Kent, growing winter and spring wheat, winter and spring oilseed rape, spring oats, spring barley, winter barley, and field beans. His soils range from heavy weald clay to light sand. Andrew is a committee member of BASE UK, and member of LEAF and the Institute of Agricultural Management. As a Nuffield Scholar, Andrew will study companion cropping around the world.
Black Isle growers Brian and Caroline Matheson from Ballicherry Farm in Balblair run a mixed enterprise of 332 hectares, consisting of 190 hectares of spring barley grown for certified seed and malting, 42 hectares of winter wheat grown for certified seed, 25 hectares of oilseed rape and 35 hectares of potato and carrot lets, together with 40 hectares of permanent grassland carrying 100 ewes, 100 over-wintered cattle and 25 suckler cows. The farm also carries out carrot growing and mobile grain dressing contracting operations. Caroline operates a Care Farming enterprise which runs alongside the commercial farming operation.
Brian and his cousin Patrick run E.J. Barker & Sons, a family farm partnership and contracting business in Suffolk dating back to 1957. The 667ha arable farm business is farmed on 12 - and nine-year rotations, incorporating winter wheat for feed, spring barley, herbage grass seed, oilseed rape and a break crop of beans, linseed or peas. Environmental consideration is crucial to the running of the business, and remains a key factor in all decision-making on farm.
Christy and Hew Willett farm at Parklands Farm in Galleywood on the fringe of Chelmsford, Essex. This mother-and-son team farm in partnership across 475 ha of arable cropping, with a mixture of owned and rented land. Their rotation is typically two wheats followed by spring beans/OSR, although this has become more flexible since 2012 to include spring barley and spring oats, based on the condition of each field. The farm has recently moved to a strip-till system and is focussed on the significant challenge of grass weed management, including black-grass and ryegrass. Most of their wheat is destined for local millers. The farm has diversified into horse liveries, as well as office and industrial lets. Christy and Hew see their greatest challenge as keeping their cost of production as low as possible without sacrificing yield. They are keen to use benchmarking, on-farm trials and discussions from the Monitor Farm programme to improve and develop their farm business in these critical years for the industry.
Colin Chappell farms with his family at Gander Farm near Brigg, Lincolnshire. The lowland mixed arable and beef unit has 615 ha combinable crops and 32 ha permanent pasture. Colin’s arable rotation is normally peas or oilseed rape, followed by two wheats. He recently replaced his second wheats either with spring wheat due to black-grass pressure, or maize on lighter land for a local AD plant. During the three years of the programme Colin hopes to look at succession, joint venture farming and how his farm can survive in a post-EU Britain.
A fourth generation farmer, Danny Milne runs a mixed livestock enterprise at Auchtermuchty in Fife with his wife Alison and his parents. As well as 70 suckler cows and some sheep, the business grows 550 acres of cereals including spring barley, winter wheat, oilseed rape, field beans and oats. For the Monitor Farm project, a partnership between AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds and Potato Council, the Milnes are joined by neighbour John Weir, who farms 150 acres of potatoes at Lacesston Farm. John is keen to work out how to get the best collaboration between landlord and tenant.
David Blacker farms around 890ha on a mix of family-owned, rented and stubble to stubble contracts just north of York. He is keen to drive down costs, and has recently bought a four metre strip-till drill which has led to a new rotation for 2014/15 - wheat, oilseed rape, wheat and spring beans. David grows feed wheat, chops all his straw and is using cover crops to improve soil structure and add organic matter to fields before spring beans. David is particularly interested in precision farming and improving his soil organic matter and structure, and is running his own trial to incorporate compost to raise the soil organic matter. He is also planning to re-locate his farm yard, including his chemical store which will include a bio-bed type spray washings system and rain water harvesting.
AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Manager (Scotland). Previously a business specialist with SAC, working to broaden farmers’ business management skills.
Based at Ashkam Bryan near York, Harry grew up on a beef farm in his native north Wales. Subsequently, Harry developed an interest in farm machinery that took him around the world working in agriculture. Having managed a plant breeding farm near Cambridge for Monsanto, in 2005 Harry joined John Deere as Crop Systems Specialist, from where he was recruited by AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds.
Hugh Crosbie Dawson, with his father, has worked on the 1,161 ha mixed Freefolk Farms near Basingstoke since 2011. The 800 ha arable cropping is split across owned, rented and contract farmed land. The farm’s rotation includes milling wheat, spring barley, oilseed rape and peas, all grown on predominantly chalky soil. In addition to the arable enterprise the farm has 150 dairy cows and 500 breeding ewes. There are three full-time arable staff as well as a herdsman, Hugh and his father. A min-till approach is adopted where possible, although the farm has used the plough this year for the first time in 15 years, in order to combat grass weed pressure. Other enterprises on the farm include commercial lettings, self-storage and a solar farm. Hugh’s ambition for the business is to reduce fixed and variable costs, increase efficiency and make further use of precision farming methods. During the Monitor Farm programme Hugh is also interested in benchmarking with other farmers and exploring break crops.
Ian Cammack together with his foreman Andy Bason runs a 722 ha arable farm on chalk downland near Winchester. The farm has 550 ha of combinable crops – wheat, barley, oilseed rape and beans, as well as keeping 70 breeding ewes producing Hampshire Downs cross lambs to sell to a local butcher. The farm receives rental income from ex dairy and piggery buildings converted to offices, a gym, storage and workshops. With woodchip boilers recently installed, Ian will soon be doing more woodland management than before. Off-farm work includes agricultural and non-agricultural maintenance.
James Lee is AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds' new monitor farmer near Crediton. A family partnership on hilly terrain with thin to medium loams, the Lees farm a total of 260ha, of which 140ha is arable. They also have 70 suckler cows and 350 ewes. James has experienced benchmarking and peer review in New Zealand and wants to emulate this in the UK. James and his family currently grow oilseed rape, winter wheat, spring barley and oats, and want to expand their diversification.
Jo Franklin is a partner in her family farm and grows approximately 970ha of combinable crops just to the west of Royston, Hertfordshire. Jo also has 230ha of grassland for 1,000 New Zealand Romney ewes and runs a 400ha mixed arable and cattle unit in Hampshire. Jo has a keen interest in soil and crop health, and uses a number of precision farming techniques to ensure accuracy of application. She is currently developing a commercial grain storage facility on-farm. Financial viability and pushing yields are her other main interests.
John Aynsley runs a 1,302 ha mixed farm near Saltburn-by-the-Sea in the north-east of England. Covering 566 ha he grows a rotation of winter barley, oilseed rape, and wheat on light loam to heavy clay. Combinable crops are established using a min-till approach and all grain is dried and stored on farm. In addition to the arable enterprise John also manages 1,300 breeding ewes and 450 spring-calving suckler cows.The main challenge which John aims to address on the farm is soil management. John is already a member of the Darlington Benchmarking Group and has been benchmarking since it started. By participating in the Monitor Farm programme, he hopes to prepare his business to be profitable without direct payments.
Julian Gold is a farm manager in East Hendred, Oxfordshire. He farms 800ha on a five-year rotation of oilseed rape, winter wheat, spring beans, winter wheat and second wheat, winter or spring barley. There are also sheep and shoot enterprises on farm. Julian is passionate about sustainable intensification, soil health and Controlled Traffic Farming. East Hendred has highly alkaline, silty clay loam soil over chalk, with 679mm average yearly rainfall.
Julian Radcliffe farms around 600ha, of which 400ha are arable, in the shadow of Cardiff Airport. The farm has very shallow medium loam soils, around 20-28cm and even less in some places. Julian grows wheat, OSR, barley, oats and grass, and has started growing a small area of maize. He recently invested in a beef unit to finish 250 cattle and also has a flock of 200 breeding ewes. Julian’s aim is achieving consistent yields and maximising returns, and to do this his focus for the Monitor Farm programme will be on yields, cultivation, grass weed control and a marketing strategy to address price volatility.
Mark Wood is a farm manager in Fawley, half way between Hereford and Ross-on-Wye. The farm is 250ha owned, 250ha rented and 500ha contract-farmed. Mark has three full time staff, and is a member of the Rosemaund Farmers Association. The issues Mark and the farm are facing include precision farming, staff succession and achieving consistent yields under variable conditions. Mark has hosted trial work for other organisations in the past.
Russell Price and Martin Williams are between them hosting the new Monitor Farm for Herefordshire. Included in their rotations wheat, barley, peas, beans, oilseed rape and potatoes. Martin farms 800 ha arable crops on the banks of the River Wye at Fownhope, and also has a small flock of Jacob sheep and rents out land for grazing. Martin’s particular challenges are trying to decrease his cost of production, be successful in a very competitive market and to efficiently manage crops with limited chemical availability. On the Herefordshire/Worcestershire border, Russell Price’s arable farming operation includes 360 ha farmed in-hand, 290 ha contract farmed and 130 ha potatoes grown. The challenges faced by Russell’s business include black-grass, improving soil health, efficiency of crop nutrition and building a resilient farming business to withstand volatility. Working together to form this joint Monitor Farm, Russell and Martin are confident that this collaboration will allow them to make comparisons in their businesses, thus providing a wide array of topics around which local farmers can share knowledge and best practice.
Taunton-based Philip joined AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds from HSBC Agriculture, where he was Senior Agriculture Manager in the South West region. Having studied agriculture at university, Philip spent seven years as a Senior Business Management Consultant with ADAS before developing his career with HSBC. He brings substantial business management experience to the Regional Team, and a detailed understanding of the complexities of the industry in the region.
Philip Meadley farms 250ha near Driffield, approximately four miles from the North Sea coast. In a four-way family partnership, he grows milling wheat, oilseed rape, peas and barley. Phil is particularly interested in soil health, reducing fuel usage, addressing mycotoxins and looking at his whole approach to cultivations. http://cereals.ahdb.org.uk/driffield
Richard Meredith grew up on a family farm in Herefordshire, and is based in Ledbury. He joined AHDB first as a Regional Benchmarking Officer, providing benchmarking support to AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds, Eblex and DairyCo levy payers. Prior to that, Richard worked for five years with a machinery ring co-ordinating contracting and hire services in the agricultural and related sectors. As AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Regional Manager, Richard is passionate about helping to strengthen UK farm businesses, making them more resilient in the long term.
Richard Reed farms a mix of owned and contract farmed land and contracting totalling 1170ha with his father near Berwick-upon-Tweed. He grows winter wheat for biscuit wheat or distilling, oilseed rape, winter barley for malt, feed, and seed, spring barley, and tried 3ha spring beans in 2014. During the Monitor Farm programme, Richard hopes to look at improving soil structure and condition, work force succession, grain marketing and machinery and establishment costs.
Rob Addicott is a Duchy of Cornwall tenant farming 478ha in Somerset, divided between his home farm, shared land with a neighbour, and contracted land. The farm grows winter wheat, barley and OSR for feed, as well as beans for human consumption, on a six-year rotation and shares all of his machinery with a neighbour. Rob manages an on-farm office complex together with his father, and also belongs to a benchmarking group in Somerset. Topics for discussion include reviewing the machinery complement in the light of the mix of soils types and managing the soil.
Robert Fox is a farm manager based just outside Leamington Spa. The business is highly diversified, with a large enterprise around general storage and document storage, as well as machinery and labour sharing with another arable farm. Robert farms 400ha of owned and rented land, with a rotation of winter wheat, winter barley, winter oilseed rape, spring beans and spring barley. His challenges in the coming years include black-grass control, improving soil quality and introducing controlled traffic farming.
Roger Wilson farms in partnership with his brother Peter at Lower Odd Farm in Wiltshire. They have 170 ha owned land plus10 ha rented grassland. The arable rotation is flexible, incorporating winter wheat, oilseed rape, spring beans, winter and spring barley as well as grass leys. All crops are dried and stored on-farm. The farm has a beef herd which are fed home-grown cereals. Key challenges for the farm are the threat of ryegrass, inconsistent bean yields, rape establishment, pyrethroid resistance and managing the farm’s heavier soils. During the three years of the Monitor Farm programme, Roger would like to address topics including succession, soil management and the evaluation of variable rate fertilisers.
Russell McKenzie farms 750ha on predominantly heavy clay on the border between Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. He grows seed on contract as well as soft and feed wheat, and his usual rotation is wheat, OSR and spring beans. A Nuffield Scholar, Russ has been researching direct drilling in extreme weather in 2013 and 2014.
Sam Watson-Jones is a fourth-generation farmer growing feed wheat, OSR, oats and potatoes on a 485ha farm near Newport, Shropshire. The farm sells primarily to local grain merchants and Sam also has 180,000 broiler chickens. Sam has started sharing machinery for the potato side of the business and is interested in how he can collaborate with other arable farmers to achieve more on his enterprise.
Simon Oxley spent 20 years in Scotland carrying out applied research and giving integrated pest management advice to advisers and growers on a wide range of agricultural and horticultural crops. Simon currently manages the cereals & oilseeds Recommended Lists and agronomy projects at AHDB. Simon has worked on a wide range of research projects including Scottish Government funded advisory activities in plant health focussing on the monitoring pests and disease activities, and identifying unusual pest, disease and weed outbreaks. Cross institute research projects include cereal pathology projects, in particular work on barley disease epidemiology and management. Simon has been involved with training activities to both agricultural students and BASIS training to agronomists.
Tom Bradshaw is a partner in his family farm and grows 1,485ha of combinable crops – malting barley, milling wheat, peas and beans - to the west of Colchester in Essex. Apart from a small area of owned land, the majority is farmed under contracting arrangements and includes a wide range of soil types. He has been involved in Recommended Lists trials, and appeared on the BBC Harvest programme in 2013. Tom was recently elected to the NFU combinable crops board.
Tim joined AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds with more than 20 years of farm business experience in the East of England. Based at Huntingdon, Tim previously worked at the CLA, where he was Regional Adviser for the East of England. Trained in agricultural business management, Tim has also worked as a farm business consultant, specialising in the direct management of farms and contracting arrangements.