Three years ago, Rob Timmis decided the time was right to take the plunge. After weighing up the options he made one of his biggest ever investments.
He built a 8,500t grain store on his farm to replace outdated buildings and it is now the focal point of his operation.
Mr Timmis disagreed with advice that storage units should last 30 years and build his to last a lifetime and set about designing it.
“On the old unit, the system worked fairly well, it was just a bit outdated. The buildings were old and needed money spending on them, so you either spend money patching them up or go for a new one, which is what we did,” he explains.
Having joined family farm in 1997, Mr Timmis decided to build the store more like a commercial- style building than an agricultural one.
“It’s been built to last and probably to a higher spec than we need. All the steel work is galvanised. It’s got a 40mm composite panel roof and concrete walling that is vertical rather than horizontal so that it is integrated with the floor slabs,” he explains.
The store is split into different sections. The end houses the high-tech cleaner and dryer. In front of this is a 200t tip, which helps maximise the 35t an hour drying capacity, taking out 5% moisture.
“With the trench conveyors feeding it automatically and no bins to change over, once we’ve finished combining we can shut the doors and leave it going all night. We come back in the morning and it’s empty,” he explains.
This productivity and making the most of every second are key to Mr Timmis’s farming ethos and in keeping with the “whole package label”, which he expects the store to bring.
“Being able to tip a trailer in 15 seconds and getting it back in the field is a huge asset. We are able to take grain at a high moisture level safe in the knowledge we’ve got the equipment to rectify it,” he says.
The main part of the shed is the 5,500t main store, with two separate 1,500t stores making up the rest of the unit.
The sheer scale of the unit has seen Mr Timmis letting out storage. This is an offer utilised by some millers, who have covered themselves for the possibility of another poor start to harvest by storing grain at his farm.
Mr Timmis has taken advantage of the storage to sell grain when he wants.
“Because we know we can store everything we harvest, we aren’t pushed into selling tonnages forward, so we can take advantage of weather markets and sell when it suits us.”
As general guide, Mr Timmis looks to sell a third of his grain forward, a third after harvest and the final third when markets are favourable.
“We know our cost of production, so once we sell that first load we are trying to sell it as much above this marker as we can.
“We will aim to sell on a rising market and try not to sell below that start price,” he says.
Without the new storage unit, Mr Timmis says he would have to sell around 1,500t straight off the combine, but following the investment he has more flexibility.
Another of Mr Timmis’s key investments has been precision farming, and all his equipment uses auto guide, which he sees as a necessity in modern farming.
“We started around seven or eight years ago with mapping on the combine, but also with the steering side of things and it’s just evolved over the years.
“The extra work rate you can achieve is staggering. You’re not having to concentrate on the steering side so mentally it’s less straining and you can concentrate more on the setup- it makes a huge difference,” he says.
Mr Timmis has seen savings on chemicals through section control on his sprayer, allowing for automatic nozzle shut off. Alongside this, Mr Timmis has seen big savings in variable nitrogen applications and has now implemented variable P and K and lime applications.
“The fact we’ve got big fields, varying soil types, heavy to light land, of course they are going to need different nutrients.
“We noticed a very uniform field last year. Although this year has been very wet, the precision farming and variable nitrogen has helped massively,” he explains.
Mr Timmis admits precision can be a big investment, but over the years as technology has advanced it’s become cheaper to enter into precision farming.
CASE STUDY: Rob Timmis
HOME FARM, SHROPSHIRE
Rob Timmis manages 970ha of land in Shropshire. The business consists of two separate farms that lie 30 miles away from each other. Home Farm extends over 565ha close to Lilleshall, with an extra 160ha in Ellesmere, both just north of Telford. Soils range from light sand to heavy clays.
The rest of the land is divided up into contract farmed land or forms part of various agreements set up by Mr Timmis. There are also 15 commercially let farm buildings.
Winter wheat and oilseed rape are the key crops on the farm, with winter wheat taking up 50% of this year’s acreage. The farm employs one full-time worker and two harvest students during the summer.
One of the biggest changes on the farm since Mr Timmis took over in 1997 is moving to minimum tillage.
Weve been min tilling one way or another for around 10 years. One of the major decisions in doing so was to keep the amount of equipment we needed to a minimum and reducing the amount of labour, he says.
He uses a 5.8m Gregoire Besson Discordon, which has discs, tines and a packer roller followed by a set of Cambridge rolls behind to firm it down and make it weather- proof.
He then lets the ground green up with weeds, sprays those off and then on the majority of his land the field is drilled.
Selected kit list
Class Lexion 760TT
Amazone ZA-TS fertiliser spreader
6m Horsch Pronto drill
4.4m Horsch Terrano
5.8m Gregoire Besson Discordon
Six-furrow Kverneland plough
12.8m cousins rolls
CAT Challenger 865C
JD 7260 R/JD 7530
Trailed Knight 36m sprayer
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