Farmers Weekly‘s Farmer Focus columnist Robert Law is this year’s Cereals 2010 host farmer. FWi asked him for facts and figures about the farm.


Farm Size

Farming a total of 1500ha in the Royston area. 524ha is owned, 414ha is on a long term-tenancy, with the remainder on contract farming, short term lets and management agreements. A further 500ha is managed in Nottinghamshire.

Soils

Mainly light shallow loams overlying chalk, P/K indices mostly 2+, pH 8+

Rainfall

15 year average 580mm. “Every year at Chrishall Grange is a drought year!”

Rotation

Most of the land is farmed on a first wheat/break rotation. Some of the sandier land is on a three-year rotation with winter barley grown as a second cereal.

Wheat (420ha)

All soft wheat varieties: Consort, Wizard, Ambrosia, Scout and Istabraq.

Average yield is between 9-10 t/ha but in 2010 field yields varied from 7 to 12.6t/ha due to soil type/moisture.

Barley (120ha)

Variety: Carat

Yields: Five-year average 7.3t/ha (2008 9t/ha, 2009 5.5t/ha)

Cereals-Logo
Cereals 2010 will take place at Robert Law’s farm near Royston, Hertfordshire on Wednesday 9 and Thursday 10 June.
It features more than 64ha of stands and live demonstrations including crop plots, working cultivations, Sprays and Sprayers, post-harvest technology, business alley, potatoes and renewables.
For more details go to the Cereals website
Winter Oats (125ha)

Varieties: Gerald and Mascani

Yields: Five-year average 7.3t/ha

Winter Rye (83ha)

Variety: Caratop

Yields: 5t/ha ( all grown continuously on reclaimed gravel extracted pits)

Peas (62ha)

Variety: Zero 4

Yields: 3.6t/ha

Sugar Beet (125ha)

Grown for a contract of 8250t

Other crops (90ha)

About 90ha of seed crops grown a year including, for 2010, two varieties of fodder rape grown for seed, stubble turnips for seed and mustard.

Rotational grass (34ha)

240ha of permanent grassland to support a 2500-ewe flock supplemented by 240ha of catch crop stubble turnips and sugar beet surplus to quota. Store lambs bought in depending on feed availability.

Marketing

All cereal crops are grown to Conservation Grade standards. All of the barley, oat and rye crops are contracted to Jordans/Ryvita, which also has 25% of the wheat crop. The balance of the wheat crop goes to three soft wheat mills that are within 20 miles of the farms. The Zero 4 peas are grown for seed under contract as are the rape, mustard and turnip crops.

Labour

Two Scottish shepherds

Arable Manager

Senior tractor driver/fitter

Two tractor drivers/spray operators

No students, casuals or part-timers (except for the farm secretary)

Contractors only used for beet harvesting , baling, tree/hedge planting, lambing, scanning and shearing.

Conservation

All land is in ELS and CSS; 40ha of woodland restored and planted in the past eight years, 27km of hedgerows planted and restored, 16km of linear access created and new educational classroom/meeting room opened in 2009.

Machinery

2009 New Holland 30ft 9080 Combine

2008 Fendt 300hp 930

2006 Fendt 240hp 924

2006 Fendt 165hp 716

2003 Fendt 165hp 716

2002 Fendt 165hp 716

Landquip 24m trailed 4000-litre sprayer

Landquip 24m mounted 2500-litre sprayer

Kuhn 24m pneumatic spreader

KRM fertiliser spreader

Vaderstad 6m system disc drill

Kuhn power harrow/drill combination

Kverneland six- and seven-furrow ploughs with furrow press/crosskill roller combinations

Sumo sub-soiler c/w seeder box

Grain Storage

6500t spread over four farms; 1800t in ventilated bins the rest in on floor stores with gas burners/fans.

Technology

All land is GPS mapped by Soyl for P, K and Mg applications, combine has GPS yield mapping. The Soyl N sensing system is being used for the first time this year.


Advantages of Farming in this area / on these farms

• Easy working, freely draining soils, low wearing rates

• Large fields

• Good access/road connections/proximity to ports

• Local markets for produce eg local mills, farm shops , butchers and sugar beet factories

• Large population within area creating markets and diversification opportunities

Disadvantages

• Constant threat of drought

• Drought-prone soils

• Take-all

• A constant battle against a large population of hares, rabbits, pigeons and deer who are determined to eat you out of house and home.

• Large non-farming population who keep a very close eye on what one is doing but whose knowledge of country things is limited to The Archers and Emmerdale.

• Very expensive area to live in which can cause problems when sourcing labour.


Robert L Law

• First-generation farmer

• Eternal enthusiast and optimist

• Believer in mixed farming, the environment and the part we should play as custodians and the Scottish Rugby team.

• Greatest concern for the future of farming; succession, manpower – the lack of both – followed by red tape bureaucracy.