A Lot Of The Land Is Used To Grow Crops, Crops That Produce Grain And Can Be Harvested With A Combine Harvester
We run a system that aims to promote healthy soil, so we try to minimize soil disturbance and are seeking working out ways to constantly improve the organic matter in our soils. We do this by running a diverse rotation and growing cover crops where we have the opportunity between crops, (for example between harvest and a spring planted crop) to keep the soil in good condition and to provide green manure. The sheep enterprise has an important role here as well in that not only do they produce manure but the grass adds to the diversity of our rotation.
Further we have an involvement in Environmental stewardship where we provide margins around our fields and carefully manage our hedgerows.
Our main crop is wheat, this is usually sown in the autumn and known as Winter Wheat. It is harvested in the following summer (usually August or September). Wheat has many uses, some of it is grown to be used by feed mills to produce animal feed or to be made into biscuits or breakfast cereals or the best quality wheat becomes flour for bread. We tend to grow a mixture of types but supply Weetabix for their cereals and Warburtons for bread, as well as local animal feed mills such as Faccenda Chickens or Heygates.
In order to fit in with our aims to keep the land in good condition, our rotation includes Oilseed rape which is grown for its oil and has many uses in the food industry along with it's industrial uses - even bio diesel! You can buy rapeseed oil to use at home for cooking instead of Olive oil – we certainly would recommend it!
The other crops grown include Linseed which is again used for it's oil, beans which are used as a protein source for animals, and this year we are trying a new crop called Canary Seed which is grown for the bird seed market.
One of the joys of farming is the machinery we get to use – its like playing with a box of exciting toys, so here is some of what we currently have:
John Deere Tractors
The combine harvester is a New Holland CR9070 which rather than using traditional straw walkers to separate the grain from the straw, uses a rotary system. It is equipped with GPS guidance and an on board weighing system which allows us to map the yield in the individual fields. The same GPS system is also used to steer the combine automatically which in theory should make the life of the driver easier as he or she contends with the changes in the crop.
The Combine Harvester
We have 3 tractors, they are all John Deere’s which is our favoured brand. One is an old '3350' model which doesn’t do much hard work these days and whereas the other 2 do most of the work in the fields and are linked to a GPS system to steer them. This allows us to be more accurate when cultivating or sowing.
To look after the crops once they are sown we need to apply fertilisers and chemicals to take out weeds as well as produce healthy plants. We have a self propelled sprayer and a fertiliser spreader that fits on the tractor.
The machines we sow the crops with are called seed drills, we have 2 types, one uses discs to minimize the amount of soil that is moved but we also have a cultivator type where we need to do more to the soil to produce a seedbed suitable for the seed we are sowing.