Real results 50 profile - Andrew Pitts

Name: Andrew Pitts

Occupation: Agronomist

Farm: The Grange

Cropping: Varies, but predominantly wheat/OSR with some spring barley grown for seed. Wheat crop is 80% seed and 20% milling into Camgrain. All OSR goes to Camgrain.

Farm machinery:

CAT 765 with 4m TopDown & 6m Vaderstad drill. Claas 780TT with 12.3m header, RB 25 sprayer.

About the farmer:

Andrew is a second-generation farmer. He takes pride in his passion for agriculture and conservation, having won awards for both. He has often appeared in the media (TV and radio) and enjoys being involved in industry commentary. In 1998 he completed the Worshipful Company of Farmers Advanced Farm Business Management course which had significant impact on his business and in 2012 he undertook the Institute of Agricultural Management Leadership Development Programme which changed is life. He works with BASF on sustainable intensification and has appeared as a conference speaker in the USA and Europe, and is directly involved in shaping the Government’s new Agricultural Bill.

About the farm:

The farm is primarily devoted to seed crop production and Andrew operates a conventional, non-inversion crop establishment system (no ploughing for the last 10 years), using a 4m TopDown followed by drilling using a 6m Vaderstad drill. He is buying a direct drill with a view to reducing establishment costs.

He had also moved to a more liquid-based N approach to afford him more flexibility. Being a very hands-on farmer Andrew considers the most important tool on the farm to be his spade and no soil can be moved without the structure and condition being assessed. Soil health is paramount to crop productivity and he continually strives for improvement in both.

Farming philosophy:

Andrews’s approach to farming is very much a holistic one. A detailed study of soil types and yield mapping has led to 10% of his cropped area being taken out of production in the last three years, the poorer performing areas having been identified. This has made management easier and the plan is to take this further in the future and dedicate more land to environmental schemes if production costs continue to rise and there is too much volatility. HLS has already been introduced on the initial acreage and Andrew is constantly reviewing his options. He is a great believer in micromanaging different areas of his operation and although the system is geared to high inputs and high outputs, he believes there is always scope to perform better. His fixed cost structure will be more difficult to address, if more land is taken out of the rotation, or conversely, if the criteria stack up, then he may look at expanding but only if it adds value to the business.

Hopes for Real Results participation:

Andrew sees information sharing as a critically important way of maintaining progress. He hopes that by introducing new thinking into his own philosophy, it can assist him in making more informed decisions and developing both long- and short-term strategies.