Time fast coming for policy change
This years northern barometer grower admits changing grain fortunes are forcing him to re-examine his methods. Andrew Blake reports from East Yorks
FEW husbandry corners have been cut in recent years at Lodge and Manor Farms, Tibthorpe, near Driffield. But Caley Sackur, who runs the 510ha (1260-acre) wold farm with two full-time arable staff and help from the shepherd and groom when needed, reluctantly concedes some curves may soon need straightening.
Good profits in recent years see the farm with a well-maintained and flexible fleet of mid-powered tractors – all Fendts. There is sound modern tackle to match as well as some newer items such as a self-propelled Gem 24m sprayer.
"We are well kitted up, and I think we have cut labour to the minimum for the standards we want to achieve. Our high input/high output system has paid up to now." Falling cereal prices may merit an less intensive approach, but it is a route he prefers to avoid for the time being.
"If we were prepared to do a slightly rougher job the figures might add up. But we are very keen to get the husbandry just right. You dont change until you really have to. The talk has often been worse than the reality – up to now!"
With a policy of growing top quality crops mainly for specific markets, Mr Sackur has about two-thirds of his wheats in breadmaking types, including the aging Avalon which finds a ready home at a local mill. Most are grown in the more fertile first wheat slot to maximise the chances of 11% protein. All second wheats are Riband mainly for biscuit making, a spread of winter varieties easing drilling pressure. Most seed is home-saved after careful drying in Simplex bins.
Winter barley, mostly Halcyon but with 10ha (24 acres) of Regina this year, is all for malting, about half grown on contract. Mr Sackur was a regional winner in last years Barley-to-Beer competition.
Vining peas have been grown for 30 years for Birds Eye at Hull. "They are a very valuable break." Oilseed rape is all commercial Apex. "All our set-aside is natural regeneration. We havent seen any great reward from cropping it."
Mr Sackur is a member of Arable Research Centres and finds its local variety and agrochemical trials information invaluable. "Its my way of keeping up to date with the latest technology and chemicals."
The farms have two continuous flow grain driers with 700t of bins and about 2200t of on-floor storage.
Intensive farming methods using all the tools available is the way forward for northern barometer farmer Caley Sackur of Tibthorpe, near Driffield.
Lodge & Manor Farms 1997 cropping and typical yields
winter wheat (Avalon, Hereward,
winter barley (Halcyon, Regina)79(194)3.0(7.4)
winter oilseed rape (Apex)85(210)4.3(1.8)
vining peas83(204) – –