Real results 50 profile - James Forrest

Name: James Forrest

Occupation: Farmer

Farm: Forrest Farms

Cropping: Winter Wheat (High % seed crops), OSR, Winter Barley, Spring Barley (seed), sugar beet, spring beans (seed), Parsley.

Farm machinery:

Quadtrac/Challenger rubber tracked crawlers GPS enabled, Vaderstad cultivation/drill equipment, 40 metre self-propelled sprayer (spraying and liquid fertilizer).

About the farmer:

James is a wonderfully motivated, dedicated and passionate farmer. He says ‘he never wanted to do anything else.” James comes from a farming family and is the 5th generation to farm in Suffolk. He has a 9 year old son who is keen on farming and very much hopes he will carry on in the future. James was handed the reins of the farm in 2008 when his father died unexpectedly. But as he says “I had the best tutor in my father” so have carried on the business in a similar vein.

James gained a National Diploma in Agriculture at Writtle College before returning home to work on the farm. He employs an independent agronomist Peter Riley who has advised him for almost 15 years. James says that Peter is involved with several larger farming businesses and buys his inputs from Fram buying group.

James is a modest man and as he says “I don’t want to be seem blowing my own trumpet or coming across as cleverer than others. It is ESSENTIAL that he is fully consulted on any PR actions and that he sees ALL copies related to the farm. Although I can appreciate his modesty, I can also see his passion for farming. He prefers not to report on his yields or financials of the farm.

About the farm:

James farms just over 1400 hectares, of owned, rented and contract farmed land. The soil is mostly of the Beccles (sandy clay loam) and Hanslope (chalky boulder clay). Some of the contract farms are on lighter soils.

He grows first wheats, mainly for seed (tries to avoid second wheat), winter barley and oilseed rape as his winter sown crops and sugar beet, spring beans, spring barley and for the first time this year, parsley.  Wheat varieties grown are KWS Siskin (Group 2), Reflection (Group 4), Santiago and Kerrin. He uses Adexar, Librax and Aviator in wheat. For rape his varieties are Picto, Wembley and Alizze. He has always grown some spring crops. Currently around 20% of the farm is down to spring sown crops. He intends to continue growing sugar beet whilst able to achieve good yields. He likes to keep as wide rotations as possible.

He tries to run modern up to date equipment bought from suppliers with a good back-up service. He is keen on Vaderstad machinery. He establishes his cereals with a Vaderstad Rapid drill.  He has had a long relationship with Vaderstad and considers their machinery as “good stuff!” He also uses the plough within the rotation.

James has invested in machinery for sugar beet drilling and harvesting and so will continue with the crop, which generally is a good spring break crop. He aims to start lifting as the factory opens and he aims for good yields and to have finished lifting by Christmas.

Unbelievably he has almost no black-grass on the home farm. Glyphosate has been used whenever possible on stubbles and bare land to help reduce populations. Being a seed grower, his land has to be clean and if any black-grass is spotted it is hand rogued. Spring cropping has helped to reduce this risk. He sees spring crops as a good opportunity to use chemistry with a different mode of action in broadleaf crops to the chemistry used in winter cereal crops.

Farming philosophy:

His philosophy is based on a strong belief that the soil is the foundation of all farmers’ living and it is important to look after it for the long term. He has been incorporating straw back for almost 30 years as well as adding to organic matter with FYM, green waste and Limex. He has invested in flotation type tyres and has moved to rubber tracks too in order minimise against any compaction problems or damage to the soil.

He says that he doesn’t chase every last penny on the farm, but says you must get the rotation to suit the farm, keep crops clean, time inputs well, spread workloads and produce the best crops you can. By getting these basics right and the soil right – its structure, Indices and drainage- all add up and contribute to a well-run and profitable farm business.

James says the majority of his fields are under drained, moled on a five to eight year cycle and ditches are cleaned when necessary.