Farmer Focus: Saddened by sudden passing of our estate owner

Shortly after my last article, here at Lower Hope we were shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of the estate’s owner, Clive Richards, aged 83.

It has left a huge void for us all and his drive and passion for the estate was felt all the way through the ranks.  

Personally, I will be forever grateful for the faith and trust he put in me to manage a sizable farming operation, with the opportunity to express and try new ideas.

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His enthusiasm for providing young people with opportunities was clear to see and one that Herefordshire YFC will be very grateful for as he did so much to help the organisation flourish. 

Mr and Mrs Richards brought the Lower Hope Estate in 1984 and made the estate and Herefordshire their home.

From the start, Mr Richards had a clear vision of the direction he wanted the estate to take. In just over four decades it has become a multifaceted enterprise, with sustainable agriculture and environmental enhancement as its core values. One thing that is for sure is he has left quite a legacy.

In 1986 the Clive and Sylvia Richards charity was formed, and now gives away £1m-£2m a year, benefiting many schools, sports clubs and hospices within Herefordshire.

On the farm everything has reacted to the rain in a positive way. Fortunately, before the downpours started we were up together with field work including option establishment for Countryside Stewardship schemes.

Time will tell whether my decision to apply a non-SDHI to most of our wheat for T1 was a good one or not! My focus has been matching input to potential, maximising margin and using varietal strengths.

Our spring crops are all racing away now. I have been really pleased with the establishment from a set of 3in coulters on the drill. These have worked very well in hard conditions after intense sheep grazing. Historically, this has been a situation where we have had to lightly cultivate. 

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