YEN Competition winners - farmer profiles

 

Shaun Watson 

 

Best % of potential yield  

Best Field Yield

Gold

Gold

Sponsor

Bayer

Location

East Holywell

Variety   

Reflection

Proportion of yield potential

Yield

64% of 20.0 t/ha

12.8 t/ha

 

Shaun farms with his brother Anthony and father Phillip at Holywell Farms Ltd.  They are mainly tenant farmers of The Duke of Northumberland near Whitley Bay in the North East of England.  Their operation size is 1500 acres with a further 500 acres farmed on contract for Northumberland Estates.  Shaun operates a 100 horse livery yard and a small herd of Belgian blue cattle.  All operations are done in house with some seasonal staff brought in at harvest.

Cropping includes winter wheat, winter barley, OSR, Oats and rye grass for our horse hay and haylage enterprise.  Soil types are a mixture of light to medium soils with some open cast land to put us to the test! To establish our crops we are a great fans of the plough, we then press, then sow with a Vaterstaad Rapid and finally follow with a good rolling. 

Shaun says their farming philosophy is to keep it simple and pay close attention to detail.   The use of IPF mapping for soils, variable rate fertiliser(P&K) and seed applications, together with the “little and often” approach for nitrogen applications led to his winning yield.  Shaun firmly believes in the value of improving the soils through organic matter and has been using compost and sludge on his fields for the past 7 years.  

 

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David Fuller - Shapcott

 

Best % of potential yield

Silver

Sponsor

BASF

Location

Kelso

Variety   

Zulu

Proportion of yield potential

Yield

63.5% of 18.6 t/ha

11.8 t/ha

 

David farms 1,000 acres of owned, rented and contract farmed land as a family business. His operation is dominated by arable farming on sloping heavy clay soils, based in the Scottish Borders, where cultivations have been traditionally plough based. David has been moving towards a non-inversion strategy, and the last two years’ YEN entries have both been from non-inversion established crops of first wheat behind oilseed rape.

This season was characterised by very high autumn rainfall with lots of water logging which resulted in difficult conditions for rooting.  David tried to drive rooting in the spring by applying nitrogen early in the season, through use of PGR’s and by applying SDHI at T1.  He thinks that soluble carbohydrates in May are very important, and that there is scope to do more to measure them, especially to get more information on difference in varietal performance.  Unfortunately David experienced lots of seed shed from the crop at harvest due to rains and believes that his yield would have been much higher if he had been able to harvest a few days earlier. 

“Being part of the YEN has provided a fantastic learning opportunity and has focused our efforts on addressing ways to drive both establishment and early spring rooting and also to look at soil health in a new light.”  

 

 

Brian Matheson

 

Best % of potential yield

Bronze

Sponsor

Individual entry

Location

Black Isle

Variety   

Zulu

Proportion of yield potential

Yield

62.5% of 17.3 t/ha

10.8 t/ha

 

Brian farms with his wife Caroline and daughter Rachel at Ballicherry Farm on the Black Isle in Scotland.  The farm is predominantly arable with 600 acres of combinable crops, 60 acres of potatoes and 80 acres of carrots.  Brian’s operation also includes 140 commercial ewes and 100 wintering cows and attributes his excellent soil fertility to including the livestock in his rotation.  Brian participated over the past three years as an AHDB monitor farm. 

The winning field had been in continuous grass for 10 years and this, together with a comprehensive fungicide programme and careful attention to soil and plant nutrition contributed to this success.  Other field treatment included a double dose of his normal sulphur application, and late nitrogen applied in May.  All in all attention to detail and timeliness with spraying programme are key.  

 

 

David Hoyles

 

Best Field Yield

 Bronze

Sponsor

Hutchinsons

Location

Lincolnshire

Variety   

Motown

Proportion of yield potential

Yield

59% of 20.7 t/ha

12.2 t/ha

 

David farms 700ha of grade 1 Wisbech series silt, based around 3 farms, very close to The Wash, and below sea level.  David thinks that the cooling sea mists have contributed to his high yields by keeping the crop alive for longer. 70% of the farm land is owned by the family, and 30% farmed under FBT.  David has a 7 year rotation including potatoes, wheat, beetroot, sugarbeet, let land (cauli/broc), mustard, and vining.peas.  There are 3 full time staff and.  8 seasonal staff.supporting the farming operation. All land is under drained, with land drains jetted every 3 years.  Average field size is 17ha.

GPS steering and Controlled Traffic systems are used across the farm, except for vegetable harvest.  Tyre selection and pressure rates are adjusted to suit soil conditions and 1ha Soil sampling and pest sampling enables variable rate application of nitrogen and nematicides.

David adheres to Red Tractor crops standards, Red Tractor Produce, LEAF, Nurture and M&S Field to Farm standards to suit a range of buyers and has planted pollen and nectar grass margins, wild bird food and flower rich field corners around the farm. 

David produce approx. 350,000 kWh electricity / year using a wind turbine and solar panels, making them 70% self sufficient.  Data from the solar panels in June has been useful in trying to predict how crops may yield at harvest.

David has been on the YEN podium 3 times and has appreciated the technical information provided by ADAS, as well as the networking and sharing of ideas.   Farm yield averages are 2016=10.70ha, 2015 = 14.07ha, 2014 = 11.76ha, 2013 = 10.51ha.  David hosts the Bayer wheat fungicide and variety trials and also has wheat plot trials as part of Holbeach Marsh Training Group (HMTG) which helps to independently look at nutrition, fungicides and PGR's and take to yield at harvest.

 

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