BOOTS ON THE GROUND:
A YEAR IN THE LIFE ON FARM
Join us each month as we speak to farmers, estate managers and rural business owners across the UK as they tackle day-to-day issues on farm and give us an insight into the tools they use and their business operations.
Read our latest issue below, or scroll down to find out more on how some of our customers manage issues like harvest preparation, conservation, year end, boundaries, lambing and calving and more.
Rachel Wilks : Aug-Sep 21
Managing a mixed farm enterprise
We’ve bought less straw off the field this year as prices have dropped and it should be cheaper off the lorry later on. People didn’t have any reserves left in the shed last year because of the weather, which drove the high early prices.
There is much more awareness around environmental issues and farming and there are changes coming to reflect this. We are an environmentally friendly farm; we use very few sprays or fertilisers. We have a lot of woodland and wildlife-friendly areas so we have a good balance already, but going forward there is going to be more of a requirement to provide evidence of how you are providing solutions to environmental issues.
We have just joined the mid-tier countryside stewardship scheme for 2022 and will then have the option to change to the ELMS scheme in 2 years’ time. We had a lot of paperwork to do to work out what land we wanted to include in the scheme and how we can operate within the parameters of what is required, without it affecting us, which was a lengthy and time consuming exercise.
I am managing the family farm together with my own and my husband’s businesses, so I use Business Manager which makes it easy to analyse what prices we received, our costs and then to make comparisons.
Rachel Wilks helps manage the 500-acre family farm in Herefordshire, alongside her own and her husband Simon’s groundwork business.
The farm is mostly permanent pasture, short term leys, maize, barley or oats to feed stock over winter. Historically a dairy farm, they now have a suckler herd of 60 cows, 450 breeding ewes, as well as a holiday let. Rachel uses Farmplan’s Business Manager and Cattle Manager to keep this busy farm running as efficiently as possible.
“September is when we start getting the sheep back to the rams ready for lambing next year. We’re lambing in January now as I could see from the analysis within Farmplan’s Business Manager we were benefitting from better prices by selling early.
The bulls have been in with the cows and we are vaccinating and ear notch testing all the calves to become a BVD free herd, which will be a requirement in farm assurance by 2025. Calving is a dangerous time so I record everything through Cattle Manager to ensure that any ageing families aren’t being exposed to any unnecessary risks.
Looking to the future
We recently converted an old barn into a holiday let with the aim of creating more stable cashflow and to take advantage of the current staycation boom. I have been able to closely manage the costs of the project by using the ‘searchcode’ function within Business Manager. Now the barn is finished all income will also be allocated to the same searchcode so I can easily see how it is performing financially.
I started off using Business Manager purely for VAT purposes, but I’ve since moved additional businesses across because of MTD. I’ve got to record the information for MTD purposes, but I’m now also using that detail to looks at ways to benefit and improve the businesses.”
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“There are changes coming and we need to be able to embrace them. Whether that means we keep farming in the same way remains to be seen.”Rachel Wilks, Herefordshire farmer
Tighter management control
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Read previous issues of Year in the Life here:
Adam Whiteman: Jun 21
Adam Whiteman is part of a family-run farm in the West Midlands alongside his father and uncle. In this issue he discusses:
- Harvest Preparation
- Agronomist recommendations
- Maximising value
James & Laura Porter: May 21
Porters Farms is a family-run farm in Walpole, Suffolk. The farm operates arable land which includes crops of peas, beans, wheat, oats, OSR, barley, and linseed. Topics in this issue include:
- Measuring and managing boundaries
- Cost-effective approach
Scott Millar: Apr 21
Scott Millar manages a small livestock farm in Monmouthshire in partnership with his fiancée, Kirsty, beginning last year with 15 sheep. In this issue Scott discusses:
- Farmplan Business Cloud
Rachel Probert: Mar 21
Rachel Probert manages Rylstone Farm in Herefordshire in partnership with her husband, operating a small livestock farm of 50 breeding cows and 180 ewes. Rachel tells us about:
- Lambing and calving
- Year-end processes
- Comprehensive analysis
Will Haupt: Feb 21
Will Haupt manages Woburn Farms in Woburn, Bedfordshire and operates on 4,500 acres of arable land growing mainly cereals, beans, peas, pulses and oilseed. Will discusses:
- Boundary integration
- Agronomic strategy
- Efficient processes
Kris Grzelak & Robert Wilkins: Jan 21
Kris Grzelak manages LE Tuckwell Farm in Framlingham, Suffolk and operates on 1800 acres of arable land. Robert Wilkins owns Pallingham Farm which is a mixed farm comprising 250 acres of grassland, 500 acres of arable and 50 suckler cows. In this first issue of Boots on the Ground: Year in the Life, they discuss:
- Drainage schemes
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Mapping in Gatekeeper
Visit almost any UK farming business and most tractor units will be equipped with GPS controllers capable of variable application of seed and fertiliser. Along with yield monitors on combines, there is plenty of data to capture. But, what to do with it all?
Well, as the very definition of data suggests – collect it, examine it, consider it and use it. Farmplan’s Gatekeeper software can help you every step of the way.
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