Foodie Farm, Fife.
Winter wheat, winter barley, potatoes, other crops.
About the farmer
Jeff has always had an interest in agriculture, having grown up on the family farm just north of Dundee. After leaving school, Jeff studied for a degree in agriculture with SAC in Aberdeen before travelling around New Zealand for ten months. When he returned to the UK, Jeff took a job as a trainee agronomist with Crop Services and was with them for about 5 years, gaining his Basis and Facts qualifications. He then joined his wife and her family in their farming business, which has recently been expanded.
About the farm
The farm is about 10 miles inland from St Andrews, covering a range of soil types from heavy clay soils to some lighter sandy loam. Manure from their 400 fattening cattle goes into the soil at least once in the rotation and sometimes twice. This ensures the soils have a high organic matter and allows P and K applications to be scaled back.
Jeff is keen to ensure that the soils on the farm are kept in good condition. This is achieved by regularly soil sampling for pH, P and K and keeping a high level of organic matter in the soil, which is achieved by applying farm yard manure. Jeff said, “This should keep soil health high and maximise yield. We aim for as much productivity from the land while managing the inputs, providing a sustainable outcome is met.”
Cultivation and drilling approach
Jeff said, “We are a traditional ploughing and one-pass power harrow seeder combination unit. Last year we trialled a Claydon direct drill but right now the plough is looking better.
Rotation is staying much the same for the 2020/2021 season give or take 20 acres. The rotation all revolves around the potatoes (every 5 years): potatoes, wheat, oats, wheat and then possibly winter barley or 2nd wheat or oats.
Jeff also includes broccoli in the rotation. “We have a lot of cattle here (black and white dairy bulls). We whole crop the winter barley or oats for use as feed and squeeze in a broccoli crop straight after. So, the broccoli is in the ground by mid-July, in the fields that were oats or barley. This means that we’re getting 2.5 crops in a year.”
Biggest agronomic challenges
Jeff’s biggest agronomic challenge is the weather,but choosing the right varieties is also proving challenging, as well as deciding how much to spend on the crop.
“We tend to go belt and braces fungicides wise. It is an insurance policy really, as you never know what the year will bring. These are all big decisions.”
What do they most value about Real Results?
Jeff values being able to do the field scale trials in his own fields. He also finds seeing the effect of different fungicides very interesting.