Ben Abell

Occupation

Agronomist.

Address

Beeswax Dyson Farming Ltd, Lincolnshire.

Cropping

Winter wheat, winter barley, spring barley, OSR, peas, potatoes, other crops.

About the Agronomist

Ben Abell has been with Beeswax Dyson Farming Ltd for three years. He is the company agronomist across all the sites in Lincolnshire, Oxford and Gloucestershire. He has some help from third parties for field walking but he runs the Gatekeeper system which records all operations.

Ben started his career with Frontier where he gained his FACTS and BASIS qualifications. Thereafter he worked with Agrii before moving to his present position. He has a degree from Harper Adams.

About the farm

This very large business is owned by the Dyson family headed by vacuum cleaner tycoon and industrialist Sir James Dyson. Much of the land has been purchased over the last four years. This includes large blocks of land at Nocton and Carrington in Lincolnshire and estates in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Not surprisingly, given the geographic spread of the holdings there is a range of soil types from sand to silt. If pushed to generalise, Ben said that heavy soils predominate on the cereal land.

The farms are split into separate units for management purposes. There is further division which allows for specialised management for potatoes and energy crops. The potatoes are grown both for processing and for packing.

The business operates two large Anaerobic Digester (AD) plants in Lincolnshire. All the maize, forage rye and winter barley is used as feedstock.

Farming philosophy

At Beeswax the aim is to be industry leaders in farming, renewable energy and property management.

Cultivation and drilling approach

The approach is to very much reduce tillage. Ben added, “So much depends on crop & soil type so there’s huge variation across the farms. We do a lot of direct drilling and have a controlled traffic approach.”

Rotation

“We’ve AD plants with the Lincolnshire farm, so we grow energy crops up there, as well as vining peas, potatoes and sugar beet.

Crops that need long rotation go in first, then we figure out what to put in around them. OSR was a very good break crop but it’s going to be coming out of the rotation as it’s too difficult to grow.”

Ben also added that he wouldn’t grow spring crops on the lighter land.

Biggest agronomic challenges

Ben says that climatic conditions pose the biggest agronomic challenge. “We’ve extreme weather events increasing in frequency and no traditional seasons - very wet, to very dry.”

He added that the loss of active ingredients and products, such as pest and weed resistance and black-grass control is also a challenge.

What do they most value about Real Results?

Ben enjoys the interaction with other members, bouncing ideas around and learning what other people are doing.