Real results 50 profile - Richard and Steven Cockroft

Name: Richard and Steven Cockroft

Occupation: Farmers

Farm: Bowsden Hall Farm

Cropping: Winter wheat, winter barley, oilseed rape, vining peas

Farm machinery:

John Deere tractors, Simba SL, Philip Watkins Tri-Till, Khun 6-furrow plough, Lemken Solitaire combination drill, Class Lexion combine and Amazone ZATS spreader, Bateman self-propelled sprayer and Dalbo rollers.

About the farmer:

Richard and Stephen are brothers who grew up on a family farm in Yorkshire, where their father still farms. They both moved to Northumberland last year, taking on two farms around four miles apart.

After studying agriculture at Newcastle University, Richard returned to the family farm in Yorkshire and is now responsible for all arable operations across both Northumberland farms, totalling around 537 ha.

Stephen studied Rural Land Management at the Royal Agricultural College and spent nine years practising as a land agent in Somerset, then in Cumbria and North Yorkshire. He is a member of the RICS and a fellow of the CAAV and now manages the commercial flock of NZ Romneys and Highlanders, which are crossed to a Primera and the pedigree herd of Beef Shorthorn cattle.

About the farm:

Bowsden Hall is nearly all arable, whereas Felkington is a mixed farm that has historically supported high numbers of livestock in addition to the arable enterprise.

The farms have a range of soil types, predominantly medium loams of good depth with some area of “stronger land”.

Cropping is all cereals, growing HEAR oil seed rape, two-row feed barley and predominantly Group 3 & 4 soft wheat varieties. The farm also grows vining peas for the local group which offers an excellent break crop.

Farming philosophy:

Being new to the two Northumberland farms, they are all keen not to rush in and understand it will take time to get to know the farm and what works best.

They are open to using technology and other resources available to help achieve this, notably having mapped all soil for P, K, magnesium, pH and organic matter as a starting point last autumn. They plan to use variable seed rates and yield mapping next season and already use variable P&K applications.

The brothers have divided their roles according to individual strengths, with Richard focussing on the arable operations. He maintains a flexible approach to crop establishment, using both ploughing and minimum tillage, depending on soil type, cropping and field conditions. He is “on the ball” when it comes to disease control and everyone takes active involvement in the day-to-day running of the farms.

The brothers are clear that the farms must be viable in their own right and yield maximisation and cost reduction are key to achieving this.

Hopes for Real Results participation:

They hope to be able to gain a greater understanding of how they can manage crops to maximise yields, through the analysis of data and information provided through the RR network. The ultimate aim is to use results to help maximise profits.

This year’s trial is in a field of Monroe first wheat after oilseed rape.