Real results 50 profile - Toby Hogsbjerg

Name: Toby Hogsbjerg

Occupation: Agronomist

Farm: Swinbrook Estate

Cropping: Winter wheat, winter barley, oilseed rape, spring wheat, winter and spring linseed, and spring beans.

Farm machinery:

Class Lexion 760 Terra Trac, Challenger 765, Fendt 724, MF 7718, MF 6480, 6M Kuhn Cultimer, 6m Horsch Sprinter, Chafer 30m trailed sprayer (4000l).

About the farmer:

Toby grew up on a farm in Sudbury, Suffolk and after attending Harper Adams and gaining an HND (Agric) started his career with Broadoak/CoOp Farms near Kings Lynn, Norfolk. Here he specialised in root production and after having been made redundant, then took up a position at P.G. Rix (Farms) Ltd., Gt Horkesly in Essex, where he became involved with potatoes and managed their irrigation and storage. After seven years with PG Rix, he left to move to Southern Ireland to manage a 700 ha business with the aim of growing onions for the supermarket trade as well as cereals, potatoes and other vegetables. In 1998 his travels took him back to the UK and to the Cotswolds estate of Swinbrook which he currently manages with a team of just two permanent staff, compared to the seven that operated the farms when he first joined.

About the farm:

Toby farms a variable range of soil types from traditional Cotswold brash to heavy clay, clay loam and SCL. Inherent fertility and depth of soil is often an issue, especially in dry years that can often make crop management particularly challenging. Organic manures are applied routinely to improve structure and fertility and to induce the soil to work at its best potential. The diversity of soil types means that at Swinbrook crops are grown and managed with specific markets in mind to maximise the potential of each. Spring cropping features as an important part of rotational strategy in order to facilitate the spreading of manures and weed management, e.g black grass (although not fully resistant). He uses variable rate seeding, again to utilise the different soils’ potential although variable rate fertiliser trials have not been successful or economic.

Farming philosophy:

Good soil management is crucial to achieving his production targets, according to Toby, and routine soil sampling coupled with prescriptive and targeted fertiliser applications are essential to maintain indices. He maintains that agchem products should be used judiciously (in an ideal world he would love to farm organically), but appreciates that yields and margins would not be achievable without them. However, his strategy is to use the product which is technically the best fit to do the job and to use timings and dose rate to best effect. He believes that growers have been led into a practice of “easy option” farming over the years, especially where it comes to agrochemical input.

Hopes for Real Results participation:

Toby believes that by having access to shared data and information, it will naturally give rise to more informed decision making and better strategy implementation. Subsequently, that will allow him and other members of the circle to focus on achieving better results.