Ninevah Farms, South Yorkshire.
Winter wheat, winter barley, spring barley, OSR, spring wheat.
About the farmer
Nigel farms with his brother Adrian. He left school at 16 and started work as a contractor before being able to buy some land. Between them the brothers own 250 hectares and operate seven contracts. Nigel has been BASIS qualified for 15 years.
About the farm
Nigel farms a wide range of soils with everything from blow away sand to peat, loams and boulder clay. He is a great believer in tracks and the business has three Claas Challenger rubber-tracked tractors.
To help with black-grass control, no cultivations are carried out after the end of September, with stale seedbeds sprayed as required. Some fields have no black-grass and some have either non-resistant or fully herbicide resistant populations.
When doing his BASIS training he recalls someone told him that a farmer has up to 16,000 possible decisions to make to grow a crop. It starts with the choice of field and crop and goes on through all the possible options of inputs and timings. Fortunately, a lot of it becomes second nature, he says. Nigel drives the sprayer which helps him to get to know the crops.
Cultivation and drilling approach
Nigel’s approach is based around ‘treading lightly’ whilst soils are stable and, only moving enough soil as is necessary. He believes that if you have glyphosate and a high output sprayer you ‘may as well let the sprayer do the work’. Crops are established by subsoiling followed by the Culitpress.
The Vaderstad is used as used both as a conventional drill and as a semi-direct drill and 50% of the fertiliser is now applied as liquid.
Winter wheat drives the rotation which is currently being assessed. Moving away from oilseed rape and finding an alternative break crop is a challenge. Beans and linseed have been tried but, they too have their individual challenges. This year there is a larger acreage of fallow as a means of a break and, an opportunity to build soil health and structure prior to winter wheat. With one eye on future ELMS parameters this alongside cover cropping may offer an alternative to oilseed rape.
Biggest agronomic challenges
An alternative break crop to oilseed rape and effective insecticide treatments.
What do they most value about Real Results?
It sense checks Nigel’s own agronomy i.e. he uses it to benchmark what he does across the rest of his farms and learns from the results.