Farmer Focus: A positive trip to this year’s YEN Awards

The farm had a successful trip to the Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) awards conference held in Peterborough at the end of January – a true testament to our staff, who share our same eye for detail.

However, it’s not all about the awards – it’s about the learning.

See also: Lincs wheat grower claims top prize in 2023 YEN Awards

About the author

Annabel Hamilton
Annabel Hamilton farms 1,100ha of arable in the Scottish Borders with her parents. The arable area grows 65% winter and 35% spring crops. She is Basis and Facts qualified and runs a pick-your-own pumpkin patch. The farm finishes more than 300 Limousin cattle a year.  Follow Annabel on Twitter @annabelhami11
Read more articles by Annabel Hamilton

This is our third year taking part in the network run by crop consultant Adas.

The organisers have done a remarkable job in developing this project, for which they must be congratulated.

We have learned valuable lessons which are improving our yields across all crops.

YEN now has a large database of high-performing crops, which allows us to access the characteristics of high yields.

The conference was a great start to the year for me. This was down to three main reasons:

1) It was a positive and engaging event

2) I enjoyed the company of forward-thinking people

3) Most importantly, I discovered how we can improve our farming business without relying on other people.

What has become apparent while being involved in the process is that while wheat yields in the UK are plateauing, the top proportion of entrants taking part in YEN are seeing their yields increase.

One common theme is the application of livestock manures. We now run seven muck for straw deals with various neighbours.

It is a straight swap which ensures we receive our own straw back in lieu, which safeguards our land being free of grassweeds, and shares the work load of moving the straw and muck.

Increasing our organic matter levels is now at the top of our long-term business strategy. We are now looking into a poultry unit to increase our own supply of organic manure, as well as adding another rung to the business ladder.

YEN is not about throwing the kitchen sink at a crop, but attention to detail.

Having a robust nutrition programme along with increasing our organic manure applications has allowed us to reduce our total applied nitrogen, another aim for our long-term strategy. 

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