Best Field Yield 2019: Gold Award
Best % of potential yield (East Midlands): 85% of 8.4t
Richard Budd runs Stevens Farm (Hawkhurst) Ltd, which is a father and son arable and fruit operation covering 1200 hectares of owned, rented and contract farmed land. The arable operation consists of 900 hectares of combinable crops with an emphasis on winter crops (oilseed rape, wheat, barley, oats and field beans). In normal years a small acreage of spring wheat or oats are grown. This year the spring acreage is about 60% of cropped area due to poor autumn conditions. Richard also grows 130 hectares of apples with storage, packing and marketing operations and directly supplies the major multiples. The remaining area - 170 hectares are down to grass and sublet for grazing.
The dominant soil type is Weald clay, with small areas of Ragstone, and Tunbridge Wells sand. In recent years Richard moved to a direct drilling system using a strip till drill (Sumo DTS) to improve soil structure, reduce waterlogging, and improve establishment.
Richard feels it is important to get the basics of his soil right, to ensure soil chemistry and biology will support high yielding crops. The father and son team have spent the last decade working to improve soil drainage, increase organic matter levels, and have been using variable rate technology to ensure that soil indices are corrected to the right levels.
Benefits of YEN Involvement
Richard believes that a key take away message from his YEN participation is the importance of sunlight in enabling high yields to be achieved. The typical cloudy conditions in May and scorching late June temperatures often occurring in the south east did not happen this year so the favourable weather conditions combined with late drilling (14th September) avoided any establishment problems. The absence of flea beetles, and a mild dry winter ensured a strong, healthy, big crop which got away early in the spring.
For Richard YEN has become an important benchmarking and analytical tool used to test farm practices. He uses the data provided in his YEN reports as guidance which encourages him to try different treatment programmes in subsequent crops. Richard feels that he is still getting to grips with the huge amount of information YEN provides and spends time sifting out the most relevant measurements that can be used to boost his crop yields.