Double daring

2014 is set now to be a year we’ll never forget here at Lower Heath. We found out in June that we’d been successful in a bid to manage another 550acres of arable on a farm in Hampshire – a project to see how a well performing arable unit can do the role of a top-rate farm manager at distance, which would more normally be carried out by, say, a firm of land agents. So far so good, so we’ll see how the project unfolds.

Just before harvest we found out we had been successful in winning the bid for 780ac of arable land, three farms over which we are thrilled about – another welcome challenge.

These two projects will double our arable area – a daunting prospect which became very real when the first invoices for seed and agchem for this season arrived!

We have also taken on the rental of 100 acres of stubble turnips and a further 200 acres of grass for the sheep with three new landlords – just as well as all the ewe lambs left the farm last week to go to their new homes as breeding stock and 180 new ewes arrived on the same lorry – we are due another drop shortly of 250 which will see us put 600 ewes to the ram this year – three times the number we did last year and three times the area of grass to manage!

Sheep in Royston

We are in the final throws of filling the grain stores here – we have stored about 2000t of OSR for a local merchant for several years now but this year we have a new store to fill and so did 2500t of wheat as well which has added to the strain this harvest alongside getting our own and customers’ grain in.

Storage in Royston

We had a good harvest in yield terms – all previous cereal records broken on all field blocks and our farm average wheat yield beaten by over 1t/ha and the spring barley 0.75t/ha. The rape wasn’t so special – averaging 3.48t/ha. I just wish I’d sold the 800t for £155 back in Feb that I so nearly did instead of the 150t I actually did! Hey ho.

All this, plus a new farm worker to find and another baby due at Christmas, as well as being made a Monitor Farm is making for one hell of a year!



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.