2012 Arable Farmer of the Year: Guy Poskitt

Guy Poskitt’s drive and professional approach, that made him a winner in the vegetable growing sector, is proving to be just as successful for his combinable crops.

Over the years, he has transformed the family arable farm into a major vegetable supplier to Asda and he is one of the retailer’s biggest suppliers of carrots and also supplies parsnips and swede. He sells into the food service, wholesale and manufacturing sectors.

It started as a small operation with carrots being washed in a farm shed. Today the firm employs 220 and its packhouse is capable of washing up to 300t/day of vegetables.

In recent years Guy has expanded the arable part of his business and is currently growing nearly 800ha of wheat and 200ha of sugar beet. This is part of his strategy of spreading financial risk. In contrast to the vegetable sector, crops can be sold forward bringing some certainty to his business.

Guy continually looks at adding value to all his crops. For example, reject carrots used to be sold to local farmers as stock feed. But he is now processing and selling them as prepared, ready-to-cook batons.

Farm Facts: Kellington, East Yorkshire 
  • Total area of 2,360ha, of which 2,330ha is cropped
  • Farming across 10 sites
  • 17 full-time farm staff
  • Cropping: carrots, swede, parsnips, sugar beet, winter wheat, ware potatoes, oilseed rape, spring and winter barley

And the shavings produced making the batons are sold to a soup manufacturer. As he says, “It’s all about getting the most out of the crop.”

In the past six months, Guy has successfully launched the Poskitt Mini Peeled Carrot. It’s a bold move being one of the first farmer-branded carrots and is being sold in major retail chain Asda.

He is also looking to get the most out of his other crops by adopting the latest technology. He admits to not having the best land, but he is looking to get the most out of it and has increased sugar beet yields to 80t/ha by adopting a multiple fungicide strategy to maintain green leaf in the autumn.

Wheat averages 8.3t/ha and oilseed rape 4.88t/ha with the highest yields approaching 12t/ha for a crop of Grafton and 6.4t/ha for Excalibur oilseed rape.

Winning Ways
  • Very passionate about cropping
  • Full utilisation of crops
  • Knows he hasn’t got the best land, but making the most of it
  • Looking to drive up yields

He uses the Soyl mapping system for matching P&K fertiliser applications with crop requirements, reducing P&K use by 15%. Adopting the N-Sensor saw a 5% reduction in nitrogen use.

He is also continually looking at reducing pesticide use. For example, Guy is working with Garford in developing a prototype vision-guided band sprayer to target weeds with glyphosate and believes he can use one-third less spray.

“Guy showed huge determination to build up his business from a small beginning. He looked for profitable opportunities and equipped himself with a dedicated and positive team. He has great energy and enthusiasm for farming, his team and his business – a very worthy winner”
Jock Willmott Strutt & Parker

Similarly, he is examining ways of removing the use of Vydate from potato and carrot growing. A trap crop is being successfully used to tackle potato cyst nematode populations with bramble weed.

Guy takes pride in his conservation plan, with many species of birds seen on his farm, and he has taken measures to cut his carbon footprint, including recycling straw used for protecting carrots over winter and reducing fuel use.

The wider farming community is also benefitting from his experience. He is the current NFU county chairman in East Yorkshire and sits on the North East Horticulture Board, pushing for the interests of UK growers.

Sponsor’s view

British Sugar logo“Guy and his team demonstrated a passion for the farming business and amazing drive to expand and achieve improvements in everything the farm and food processing business does”
Paul Bee, agricultural communications manager

Other finalists

William GribbonWilliam Gribbon
Snailspit Farm, Swaffham, Norfolk

Prompted by the potential reduction in single farm payments, William made plans to recoup some of the loss with his own brand of premium new potatoes and investing in storage. He also grows niche crops such as herbage and rye.

Tony BambridgeTony Bambridge
Wood Farm, Marsham, Norfolk

Seeing a gap in the premium potato seed market, Tony successfully established a seed business in north Norfolk that offers a just-in-time delivery service. He has a close eye on costs and excellent engagement with his staff.

More on this topic

Keep up with all the news from the 2012 Farmers Weekly Awards.

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