The farming system at Culworth Grounds is a modern twist of the traditional mixed farming system with an arable rotation integrated with livestock (sheep, cattle and pigs) and bloodstock.
The emphasis of the arable cropping is on spring crops, including spring beans, spring barley, spring oats, linseed and soya with winter wheat making up circa 20% of the arable area.
The farming operation employs state of the art farm machinery and equipment, designed to maximise efficiency and minimise environmental impact.
The cropping plan is determined each year depending upon commodity prices, weather conditions, soil conditions and the wider farm management matters such as machinery and operator efficiency planning.
Grass leys are used as a break crop, taking land out of the arable rotation and using it for winter grazing whilst also taking up to two crops of hay and/or haylage from early June.
The premium grade hay and haylage is used on the estate by the bloodstock operation with the surplus being sold off the holding to supply premier equestrian yards - racehorses, show jumpers and eventers.
After harvest, all arable land destined for spring cropping is cropped with cover crops including stubble turnips and fodder radish. The cover crops are established as soon as possible after the previous cereal crop has been harvested and the straw removed.
These cover crops use up any residue nutrients in the soil and provide a series of benefits to the farm. The cumulative effect of the huge volume of roots helps to create better soil structure, which helps the soil to drain better.
Also, the canopy formed by the leaf of the crop helps to protect the soil from the winter rains by breaking the fall of the rain and allowing it to run down the stem of the plant before it filters through the soil via the root canals and percolates through into the subsoil and the drainage system.
The turnips also provide a very appealing home to wildlife; partridges, pheasants, hares and others before the crop is grazed by sheep and drilled again in the spring with a spring crop.
All of the tractors, sprayers and combines are guided by GPS, which has a series of significant benefits;
· Consistent cultivations and even seed placement
· Consistent application of fertiliser and sprays
· Reduces overlapping, which reduces wear on machinery, reduces use of inputs (seed, fertiliser and sprays)
· Reduces fuel usage
· Reduces operator fatigue
Rubber tracks and wide tyres
There are a number of compelling advantages to be gained by using rubber track and wide tyres on tractors, trailers, balers and sprayers etc, which are both economic and environmental benefits.
· Reduced soil damage by reducing soil compaction
· Reduced wheel slip to under 1%, which reduces soil damage, improves fuel efficiency and increased output.