Harvest results
A slow harvest finished at the start of September when the spring beans were finally harvested with results from all crops disappointing. Wheat yields (variety Robigus) were down 17% from last year’s 10.4t/ha to 8.64t/ha. This was in line with the national trend. Spring beans (variety Syncro) averaged 2.56t/ha down from 3.1t/ha last year. There were large variations between the fields. At one end of the spectrum 1.23t/ha on the “lapwing field” whilst the highest yields were 3.92t/ha. The oilseed rape averaged 2.4t/ha with overall the minimum tilled fields, or part fields performing slightly better than the broadcast ones. However, this is not the whole story as the overall gross margin for the broadcast are likely to be higher. Although the yields were disappointing the overall profitability of the farm will be at it’s highest due to the high wheat pices. This year we sold the majority of the wheat at over £150 per tonne compared to £70 last year.

This years cropping
Crops for this year include 78.91 ha winter wheat (Oakley), 43.15 ha oilseed rape (expert) and 31.35 ha spring beans (Syncro). We will be maintaining our set-aside for this coming harvest at approximately 14hectares because of agreed long-term research commitments. The 14 hectares comprises the 6 hectares of non-rotational set-aside in wildbird cover, 6 metre margins and 8 hectares of rotational set-aside which is being used for the yellow wagtail trial. 

Winter bird numbers
The first whole farm count of the 2007/08 winter took place in October. Despite some significant changes on the ground, i.e. no long term set-aside, the counts were very high. The total count was 1329 birds, the second highest count recorded, of 41 species (joint highest species richness). However, when 'game' birds such as pheasant and red-legged partridge, and woodpigeon are excluded it is the highest count recorded - 1002 birds. More proof that we are doing something right here. Highlights were: 153 yellowhammers (highest count), 102 skylarks, 70 redwing (highest count) and 53 robins (highest count). One stonechat and three corn buntings were recorded. Skylark numbers have continued to rise since the October count with 170 recorded on the broadcast oilseed rape fields alone in the last few days. Another whole farm count will be completed shortly.

The farm has had some good exposure over the last few months, featuring on Countryfile and Farming Today. We have also had a short piece in Farmers Weekly featuring our results from this year. Darren Moorcroft gave an excellent presentation about the farm at the RSPB AGM and Chris Bailey has given six local members group talks around the country.

Future Open Days.
We will be opening the farm for a number of open days next year so if you would like to visit the farm then please get in touch with chris.bailey@rspb.org.uk. The dates are shown below:

Farmers Open Days: 21st May, 24th May,
Public Open Days: 7th June, 9th July