Recognising that our light sandy soil will never yield record harvests, we aim for the markets with a quality premium: milling wheat, biscuit rye, millet for birdseed, linseed, seed barley.
The cultivation of fields has recently moved to a no-till régime, in order to avoid upsetting the soil structure every year with deep-ploughing. We direct-drill with rare tactical use of a plough if absolutely necessary to correct a severe problem.
Here we are direct drilling at Bisterne – this was an early practice session direct into maize stubble. Note how dusty the sandy soil appears. We are hoping to add body and organic content to it by building up the top 10 cms of soil structure without ploughing. The small yellow wheels are the Güttler wheels which close up the slot and prevent rooks stealing the seed!
We have a medium size John Deere combine. It has to be small enough to work in our many 18th Century (and earlier) fields. When we drive between fields, the large “header” attachment at the front gets unhitched and towed lengthways behind the combine.
The crop, once harvested, is unloaded into a trailer and then brought back into the farm.
Once trailered back into our store, the crops await the contractors’ lorries to pick up the produce for processing. Any surplus will go to the docks at Southampton for export.