Real results 50 profile - Tim Beaver

Name: Tim Beaver

Occupation: Farmer

Farm: RJ Beaver

Cropping: Winter wheat, Winter barley, spring barley (malting), sugar beet, and oilseed rape

Farm machinery:

Main tractors are a MF 6499 and JD 7230, 20m Knight sprayer mounted on a JCB Fastrac, Kuhn fertiliser spreader, Kuhn power harrow/drill combination, 9280 Massey Delta combine (due to be replaced)

About the farmer:

Tim is a passionate young farmer with plenty of enthusiasm and a strong desire to make a success of the business.

He is the fourth generation of the farming family and despite growing up on the farm and always having a great interest in farming, he acknowledges it wasn’t a “given” he would go into it. He graduated from Newcastle University in 2002 with a BSc in agriculture and worked in field trials for the Scottish Agricultural College for a year, before returning to the farm with renewed “energy and desire”. During his time at Newcastle he also did some teaching two days a week.

Tim has a strong technical knowledge and is BASIS & FACTS qualified, which allows him to do all of the farm’s agronomy and input purchasing.

He took part in the NFU’s Sugar Industry Programme in 2014, which encourages young growers into the beet sector and he now sits on the NFU Sugar Board, which he joined in 2016. He is not afraid to ask difficult questions in order to get a better deal for farmers.

While he takes on a lot himself, Tim is open to new ideas and using the experience of others. “I’d rather listen to what others with more experience say than learn from my own mistakes.”

About the farm:

The farmed area comprises land rented from Burghley Estate plus an area on contract farming agreements. Soil is predominantly light Lincolnshire brash which can be prone to early drought and is unlikely to produce the highest yields. “We’re often fighting for every penny trying to maximise yields on the more marginal land.”

Cropping is typically split 60:40 between winter and spring sowing, largely to spread workloads, but also to manage issues such as black-grass. The farm grows wheat for Weetabix, with Britannia, Santiago and Cougar representing the main varieties. Venture winter barley and Propino spring malting barley are also grown together with OSR and sugar beet. Achieving good quality is therefore key for Tim, not only for the human consumption markets, but also because farm-saved seed is used every year.

A plough-based establishment system is still used on much of the area, although minimum tillage has been successfully brought in for OSR establishment. Tim says the Sumo Trio seeder allows better moisture conservation and encourages deeper rooting.

Farming philosophy:

Attention to detail comes through in everything Tim does, whether that is his approach to agronomy, crop marketing or financial costings for every operation. Being tenant farmers adds extra importance to managing costs and maximising productivity, something Tim seems to do well.

He is constantly fine-tuning farm practices and knows the true cost of production, which allows him to make well-informed crop marketing decisions. He is also in an Openfield crop marketing group and values the opportunity this provides to share ideas with other farmers.

Protecting and enhancing soil health is at the heart of his farming strategy and he is keen to embrace new technology to achieve this, providing it delivers a financial benefit. The whole farm has been soil mapped by SOYL and he uses variable rate P&K and variable seed rates. He also conducts regular digs to examine soil structure and crop rooting, while using cultivations and crop inputs to help maximise root growth.

Tim is fully aware of the challenges posed by issues such as fungicide resistance and black-grass, employing various measures to mitigate risks, such as using a varied spray programme and spring cropping.

Hopes for Real Results participation:

Tim is constantly assessing the performance of products used on the farm to ensure any investment delivers a worthwhile margin, so joining Real Results is a perfect extension to that process.

It is also a good way of furthering his own knowledge and experience.

“We do trials every year in some form or another. If there’s a small mistake with the drill, fertiliser spreader or sprayer, for example, we like to mark out that area and look for any differences through the season.”

He is keen to identify differences in fungicide performance under the farm’s own conditions and compare results to the standard approach used elsewhere on the farm. This season’s trial is in a field of Britannia winter wheat, in which he has already noticed significant yellow rust incidence which could affect results.