Farmer Focus: First Open Farm Sunday attracts 719 visitors

Crops responded well to the recent moisture, which arrived just in time. Craft winter barley could well be cut by the time you read this and the oilseed rape will be desiccated.

Early wheat varieties Skyfall and Siskin are holding on to green leaf well, as are the mascani oats.

Low-input spring wheat and barley grown under HLS rules look incredibly clean, and although there are poppies and fumitory visible (which is the plan), I can’t wait until the last trailer is over the weighbridge as I think the maths will be eye-opening!

See also: Three low-cost ways to increase pollinators on farm

We have run three trials on farm this year looking specifically at: life after chlorothalonil; the effects of cover crops on spring barley grain nitrogen by varying nitrogen rates; and the use of foliar nitrogen products having taken a wheat crop to a base level.

It’s important we investigate things on our own farm and build our data set and confidence to try something different.

Environmental management

The Wallop Brook farmers had a great presentation from Liz Stockdale about methods to measure soil health as we focus on catchment-wide objectives.

It’s great to discuss cultivation systems, organic material types and rates, rotations etc with other farmers and share experiences.

With environmental land management schemes on the horizon, it’s more important than ever that catchment-wide objectives are identified.

Our first Open Farm Sunday was a huge success, with 719 people arriving on farm.

It was a massive effort from both the whole team and a brigade of more than 30 local volunteers. The energy and excitement around the farm was brilliant and it was great to see people of all ages interested in what we do.

Leaf does a great job of supporting host farmers – be it a small invite-only event or bigger.

Our post-lambing barbecue was on the evening of Open Farm Sunday, where we watched our blockbuster Countryfile cameo!

It was a fantastic opportunity to meet Matt Baker and his team and great to fly the flag for farmers and highlight some of the good work we’re doing.


Craig Livingstone is Farmers Weekly’s 2018 Arable Farmer of the Year. He manages 1,100ha in Hampshire with 215ha forestry, 85ha low-input grass ley and CSS and 800ha arable cropping. The farm supports 1,000 sheep in partnership.