We know how our varieties perform in trials but what’s even more important is how they perform on farm, and that’s where our Growers Club comes in.
We would like to introduce a new Growers Club member Richard Budd, who is looking forward to sharing his insights and experience with some of our varieties.
Stevens Farm (Hawkhurst Ltd), Rye Rd, Hawkhurst, Kent
Area farmed: 1330ha (1100ha arable, 150ha fruit, 80ha grass)
Soil types: Mainly Weald clay, some Tunbridge Wells sand and ragstone
Key crops: Winter wheat, winter oilseed rape, winter barley, winter beans, oats
Typical rotation: Varied according to season and soils
Main cultivations: Shallow chit followed by DTS drill/mounted direct drill.
RAGT varieties: Skyfall
Richard Budd manages 1100ha of arable land from his base at Stevens Farm, Hawkhurst in Kent.
The business owns, contract-farms and rents a mix of mainly grade 3 soils around the Kent/East Sussex border, mostly heavy weald clay and some Tunbridge Wells sand, as well as a block of ragstone grade 2 land.
The whole business is geared to quality. Over the past four years Richard has consistently achieved 10.5-13t/ha of full specification grain from his Group 1 milling wheats. Rejections and claims rarely feature.
Some Group 2 wheats are also grown. Breaks include winter oilseed rape, winter and spring barleys, oats and beans, ensuring a varied rotation and good entries for the wheat crop.
Yields are mapped and overlaid with NDVI crop sensing and soil maps to optimise inputs and improve underperforming areas.
Nearly all of his intended autumn sowing has been completed this season, including 600ha of wheat, 120ha of oilseed rape and 130ha of beans.
“We picked up a further 320ha of land this year so we’ve more to plant in the next couple of months,” says Richard.
Winter beans are sown until mid February as conditions permit, while winter oats grown on a feed-wheat priced contract for a local mill are treated more as a spring crop, being drilled any time from January onwards.
For the past six years, Richard has been using a Sumo DTS 6m drill for all crops. This year he has added a 4m mounted direct disc drill from the same manufacturer to drill areas that have been subsoiled or overwintered in green stubble.
“We don’t need the deep DTS tines after subsoiling or mole draining, and we can tread lightly on these areas with the mounted drill,” he says. “We can also use the tractor’s draft system to help penetration in dry conditions.
“We now have 10m of drill width at our disposal – had we not we wouldn’t have drilled as much this autumn.”
Subsoiling is only carried out where needed, and that need is diminishing after several years of DTS use, which has greatly improved soil structure.
All stubbles are stirred up using a Vaderstad Carrier fitted with CrossCutter discs set to a depth of 5cm, enough to chit volunteer and weed seeds.
“This gives us an effective green cover ahead of October-sown crops – I drilled wheat into foot high OSR volunteers this autumn and it worked really well, helping to dry the underneath so we could get seed drilled in good conditions.”
The system also works very well in providing well-rooted over-winter cover in stubbles ahead of spring crops.
Richard believes plant genetics will underpin the next agricultural revolution, helping growers to tackle disease and nutrition with less reliance on inputs, to farm in a more environmentally friendly way and to help tackle the challenges of climate change.
Indeed, one of the reasons Richard joined the Growers Club was because of the work RAGT is doing on BYDV resistance, and the commercial launch of this trait with RGT Wolverine.
“That variety is not quite right for us, as we don’t have much call for feed wheats in the south east. If it had been introduced into Group 1, 2 or even 3 wheat then I’d have grown 300 acres or more. No doubt it will appear in other wheats, and it will be an absolute game changer for us.
“Our direct drilling system, spring cropping and improved soil structure means we have more or less got on top of blackgrass, so top of my list now is widening our drilling window by pulling it forward to 20 September.
“But that would mean having to apply pyrethroids, which I haven’t done for 10 years. This trait could make all the difference.”
Skyfall – a top performer
Richard has been growing Skyfall since it was first recommended in 2014.
“We earmark it as one for the first varieties to cut,” says Richard. “It typically yields 11-13t/ha and gives up to 13.8% protein grain.
“It produces a good specific weight, typically 78-79kg/hl, and Hagbergs of 270-280. It also thrashes very well and provides a lovely clean sample.”
To learn more about RGT Skyfall download the latest datasheet.