Matthew Nichols’ enterprise continues to broaden, with extra contract spraying and liquid fertiliser work in addition to a sizeable contract farming settlement on the horizon.
His transfer to a regenerative system is bringing extra livestock onto the farm, one thing which he had in his sights on the judging go to final yr.
See additionally: Farmers Weekly Awards: 2022 Younger Farmer of the Yr
His part-time worker, Mark Burrell, has taken on a close-by farm tenancy and is grazing sheep on Mr Nichols’ cowl crops.
This gives each precious fodder for Mr Burrell’s inventory and earns Mr Nichols some money along with the agronomic advantages of the quilt crops.
“That is working nicely,” he says. “Particularly as Mark additionally has grazing on a neighbouring farm, making inventory motion and administration simpler.”
- 60ha rented from household
- Offers unbiased agronomy recommendation on 2,200ha
- 1,400 pigs on B&B contract
- Half-time assist
- Regenerative and zero-tillage system
- Winter wheat, spring and winter beans, OSR, linseed, spring barley, bare oats, cowl crops, natural leys
- Contract spraying and liquid fertiliser software on 8,000ha, set to double in 2024
- Direct-drilled 350ha this season, 600ha anticipated in autumn 2023
The rising spray workload had been posing a labour downside, with Mr Burrell busy lambing for a part of the spray season and the very seasonal want for assist due to the big quantity of contracting work.
Nevertheless, that is now resolved, with a self-employed sprayer operator becoming a member of the crew this week.
Final yr noticed Mr Burrell doing a lot of the spraying and Mr Nichols doing the drilling.
Since then, the agronomy space has grown, with Mr Nichols strolling one other 400ha, bringing the agronomy service whole to 2,200ha.
The enterprise does the spraying on about 30% of that space, whereas about 350ha was contract-drilled this time.
All fertiliser purposes are liquid, with an enlargement right here too this yr as a big spraying buyer can be transferring to liquid fertiliser.
The farm runs two a lot of B&B pigs in batches of 800 and 600 head, and Mr Nichols is at the moment going via a expensive planning course of to transform a grain retailer to pig housing for the 600 batch.
He continues to modernise different buildings regularly and is bettering the yard with a Countryside Stewardship (CS) capital grant.
A brand new sprayer wash space and biobed are additionally below building, which can incorporate a brand new spray retailer and washroom for employees.
Nevertheless there was no grant assist for this.
The contract farming settlement is on heavier soils and also will be transferring to a extra regenerative system, utilizing a broader vary of crops and Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) rotational choices.
The plan is to regularly transfer to a extra even stability between spring- and winter-sown crops, for each workload and soil well being causes.
Extra info wanted on SFI
Mr Nichols’ dwelling farm is in a Mid-Tier CS settlement, with two years to run, by which era he can be clear about what the SFI presents.
He’s ready to listen to extra in regards to the requirements earlier than he can decide their attraction, significantly on nutrient administration and built-in pest administration.
Mr Nichols’ profile as a 2022 Farmers Weekly Awards winner has seen him approached to talk at a number of occasions, one thing he says takes him out of his consolation zone however was additionally considered one of his ambitions on the judging final yr.
He’s a part of a benchmarking group of seven or eight farmers that meets a number of instances a yr. “It’s a great factor to do,” he says.
“It injects some self-discipline on prices and helps you get a greater deal with on them. It additionally makes you turn out to be extra organised as a result of it’s important to put together for the conferences.”
That is all of the extra useful in a market that noticed him promote wheat at £330/t and £180/t final yr, averaging greater than £250/t.
His wider business involvement has additionally grown since final yr. He’s now chairman of his native NFU department and is on the native NFU crops board and the steering group for the AHDB’s Ripon Monitor Farm.
Final yr additionally noticed Mr Nichols and his spouse, Kate, get married and, as he places it, they farmed their manner round New Zealand on honeymoon, visiting contracting companies in addition to household farms.
The Farmers Weekly 2023 Younger Farmer of the Yr
Farmers Weekly 2023 Younger Farmer of the Yr is sponsored by Map of Ag.
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