Blog •  30/10/2020

“2020, a harvest to forget”: Nick Down is making big changes to his operation

Harvest 2020 may not have been easy, but we’re ploughing (not literally) ahead with plans for the future at Yattendon Estate.

 

Our 100ha of winter linseed just scraped 2t/ha thanks to the wet autumn and winter, dry April and then unexpected frosts in May. Yields swung from 1.5t/ha to 3t/ha, depending on the exact location and the yield maps certainly made some interesting analysis.

 

Winter wheat was also incredibly variable, with yields anywhere from 6.5t/ha to 11t/ha. However, on average we achieved 8.5t/ha. Fortunately quality has been ok and will meet group 1 specification.

 

Spring crops continued the same pattern with variable yields and quality. Spring wheat again met group 1 milling spec but Planet spring barley was more variable. There will be more feed than malting but we had made some significant savings on input costs through the spring.

 

Finally, we had 220ha of spring linseed which gave us an average of 1.7t/ha. However, given that back in June it was flowering three inches off the ground, we weren’t particularly surprised!

 

Following the results from this year, we’ve made a few changes for 2021.

 

Now we have some experience in how to manage winter linseed, the area has increased to 208ha and has established well. We have 330ha of hybrid winter barley which has also been drilled and looks good.

 

Winter wheat drilling has been a little frustrating but we now only have 60ha left to go in on some lighter land. We’ve stuck with group 1 varieties for 2021 but we’re closely watching other varieties for 2022.

 

We’re optimistic about our progress so far – we’re in a much better position than we were last year.

 

Going forwards, we have some changes planned for the farm as we look to the future and continue to embrace the Resilient and Ready mindset of the Corteva and LEAF programme.

 

We’ve submitted a mid-tier Countryside Stewardship application that we hope will receive the green light for January 2021.

 

Our proposed plans will see us taking 10% of our arable area out of production going into a range of different options. We have plenty of low yielding and awkward parts of fields that will deliver a significant benefit to our biodiversity.

 

We hope this will also bring about some significant savings on machinery, which will in turn improve our carbon footprint. We’ll be able to move from two combines to one and we’re gradually improving our soils which will also allow us to reduce the intensity of our cultivations for a number of our crops.

 

The application itself was a huge piece of work but we learnt a lot in a short period of time.

 

We hope to hear soon if we have been successful, but we’re conscious that the Covid-19 pandemic has created unavoidable delays. Cultivating resilience and making sure the business is ready for the future has never been more important.

 

 

 

ABOUT

Farming in Berkshire

 

2,000ha of combinable crops established in a min-till system, as part of the 3,200ha Yattendon Estate

 

The Estate is also home to 130ha of Christmas trees and 160 let properties plus 40 commercial and light industrial units which have been converted from old farm buildings.

Nick Down Combine
Nick Down Combine

Harvest 2020 may not have been easy, but we’re ploughing (not literally) ahead with plans for the future at Yattendon Estate.

 

Our 100ha of winter linseed just scraped 2t/ha thanks to the wet autumn and winter, dry April and then unexpected frosts in May. Yields swung from 1.5t/ha to 3t/ha, depending on the exact location and the yield maps certainly made some interesting analysis.

 

Winter wheat was also incredibly variable, with yields anywhere from 6.5t/ha to 11t/ha. However, on average we achieved 8.5t/ha. Fortunately quality has been ok and will meet group 1 specification.

 

Spring crops continued the same pattern with variable yields and quality. Spring wheat again met group 1 milling spec but Planet spring barley was more variable. There will be more feed than malting but we had made some significant savings on input costs through the spring.

 

Finally, we had 220ha of spring linseed which gave us an average of 1.7t/ha. However, given that back in June it was flowering three inches off the ground, we weren’t particularly surprised!

 

Following the results from this year, we’ve made a few changes for 2021.

 

Now we have some experience in how to manage winter linseed, the area has increased to 208ha and has established well. We have 330ha of hybrid winter barley which has also been drilled and looks good.

 

Winter wheat drilling has been a little frustrating but we now only have 60ha left to go in on some lighter land. We’ve stuck with group 1 varieties for 2021 but we’re closely watching other varieties for 2022.

 

We’re optimistic about our progress so far – we’re in a much better position than we were last year.

 

Going forwards, we have some changes planned for the farm as we look to the future and continue to embrace the Resilient and Ready mindset of the Corteva and LEAF programme.

 

We’ve submitted a mid-tier Countryside Stewardship application that we hope will receive the green light for January 2021.

 

Our proposed plans will see us taking 10% of our arable area out of production going into a range of different options. We have plenty of low yielding and awkward parts of fields that will deliver a significant benefit to our biodiversity.

 

We hope this will also bring about some significant savings on machinery, which will in turn improve our carbon footprint. We’ll be able to move from two combines to one and we’re gradually improving our soils which will also allow us to reduce the intensity of our cultivations for a number of our crops.

 

The application itself was a huge piece of work but we learnt a lot in a short period of time.

 

We hope to hear soon if we have been successful, but we’re conscious that the Covid-19 pandemic has created unavoidable delays. Cultivating resilience and making sure the business is ready for the future has never been more important.

 

 

 

ABOUT

Farming in Berkshire

 

2,000ha of combinable crops established in a min-till system, as part of the 3,200ha Yattendon Estate

 

The Estate is also home to 130ha of Christmas trees and 160 let properties plus 40 commercial and light industrial units which have been converted from old farm buildings.

Get in touch

Read more about our Resilient and Ready sustainability programme here