Vale of Belvoir Monitor Farm

Name:
James and Michael Parker
Location:
East Midlands
Farm sectors:
Cereals & Oilseeds
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About Vale of Belvoir Monitor Farm

  • Sherwood Farms has been a monitor farm since May 2019
  • Total farm area: 560 ha increasingly flexible arable rotation includes winter wheat, winter oilseed rape, winter barley, spring barley, winter beans, winter triticale and spring linseed
  • The farm is also home to 72,000 laying chickens, a mixture of free range and colony
  • Their soil ranges from heavy clay to clay and sandy loam

Father and son team James and Michael Parker farm at Sherwood Farms in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire. Their soil ranges from heavy clay to clay and sandy loam. James and Michael’s 560 ha increasingly flexible arable rotation includes winter wheat, winter oilseed rape, winter barley, spring barley, winter beans, winter triticale and spring linseed.

Sherwood Farms is also home to 72,000 laying chickens, a mixture of free range and colony. The eggs are packed and sold onsite. Both James and Michael want to increase the efficiency of their business and to produce crops as economically as possible.

Before becoming a monitor, farm James and Michael planned rotations in response to the different land types they have and the pressure from specific weeds. A min-till was already in place and they hoped to work towards semi-controlled traffic over the coming years.

They are looking forward to comparing their business with other farmers facing similar challenges, identifying where improvements can be made. Tackling black-grass and flea beetle by altering drill dates was one of the avenues of investigation identified at the outset of the Monitor Farm, along with other focuses which can be found in the launch meeting report.


Vale of Belvoir Monitor Farm meetings & reports

Soils & Cultivation – 5 March 2020

Past cultivation policy at Sherwood Farms:

  • Plough based, followed by power harrow.
  • Followed by a Simba Toptilth, then drilled with a conventional tine drill.
  • Moved to a set of Simba 23C discs with a press towed behind.
  • Usually, two passes per year followed by a conventional tine drill.

Current cultivation practices:

  • Two light cultivation passes, 2-3cm depth, using a Sumo Mixidisc.
  • Cambridge roll.
  • Leave undisturbed 3 weeks prior to drilling.
  • Drill with minimal disturbance using an Amazone Cayena.
  • Mole plough heavy land every 4-5 years.

In addition to discussing cultivation regimes on the farm, extensive and informative talks regarding soil health and cultivation strategies were given, the full accounts of which can be found here: VoB Monitor Farm Soil & Cultivations Meeting Report | AHDB

 

Crop Nutrition – 16th January 2020

Discussions took place on how improving soil health can reduce the amount of external nutritional inputs needed. This is particularly relevant as the farm has a significant spend of cereals nutrition.

Past nutritional inputs at Sherwood Farms included:

  • Manganese being added to deficient areas – saw an increase in leaf area.
  • Manganese and Magnesium have been added every year since then.
  • Phosphites being added to aid winter rooting.
  • Biostimulants being used although their contents were unknown.

Previous tissue testing analysis indicated low Phosphorus levels despite levels in soil being high, this was the same with Potassium.

James and Michael aim to create a crop nutrition programme and have had their soils tested in two contrasting fields in November 2019.

Full details of the meeting can be found in the VoB Monitor Farm Crop Nutrition Meeting Report.


If you would like to be included in the email invite list for future meetings, contact Judith Stafford (East Midlands Cereals & Oilseeds Knowledge Exchange Manager) via judith.stafford@ahdb.org.uk or on 01335390023.

Upcoming Meetings

28 June 2022, 4:30 PM - 28 June 2022, 7:00 PM

Sherwood Farms, Melton Mowbray, Leicester, LE14 3AR

You are invited to join us for a Summer Farm Walk at the Vale of Belvoir Monitor Farm meeting hosted by James and Michael Parker.

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