Hosted by Graham Potter
The Grange, Baldersby Park, Topcliffe

 

The event

On the afternoon of the 27th September a group of 20 farmers and supply chain partners visited Graham Potter on his farm at Topcliffe North Yorkshire. Graham is a precision farming enthusiast, constantly looking to push the boundaries of what is possible using novel farming techniques and new technology as it becomes available.

 

Background

Graham runs the 500 acre arable family farm with real attention to detail. He grows spring barley, wheat and OSR and rents out land for potatoes. He maximises returns by making the best use of all of the resources he has available. The key to this is the Farmplan Gatekeeper software that he uses to manage the data he collects, from every individual field operation carried out around the farm. The system provides him with the detailed management information from which he makes all of his forward planning decisions.

 

 

Graham Potter - Thirsk

Areas of specialism

The specialist software enables them to capture key information, helping them make production decisions based on up to date and relevant data. The system also records soil maps that accurately detail soil nutrient levels, allowing him to use variable rate fertiliser applications, providing the plants with the precise nutrients they need, accurately placed, which in turn helps to reduce his overall input costs.

Graham pays similar attention to detail when it comes to spraying and is able to variable rate spray, again optimising chemical usage. They also closely manage in field compaction by all farm machinery, confining any traffic to the existing wheeling’s where ever possible.

Graham grows spring barley for malting and to ensure the crop goes into the best possible seed bed, he sows a cover crop over winter. This cover crop which is a mixture of fodder radish, vetch, black oats, clover, and buck wheat is drilled straight after harvest using a single pass with a Sumo combination cultivator and drill. Following this it is rolled and a small amount of N fertiliser is applied to get the cover crop off to a good start.
Group Learning

Those that attended were impressed by Graham’s attention to detail, and his enthusiasm to make consistent marginal gains, driving profitability in a difficult market environment. It was also clear that if he feels the technology is available to solve a particular farming challenge, he will not accept an equipment manufacturer saying that the solution he envisages is not possible.

His proactive use of cover crops was also a point of learning for the group, developing his own ideas in terms of the varieties, types and mix of cover crops used. Whilst he experienced cover crop establishment difficulties last year in some of his fields due to weather conditions, his plans now encompass a flexible approach to manage unfavourable seasonal weather conditions.

Many of the management practices Graham employs not only allows him to get more from less but also makes the business more resilient and so in practice, Graham is truly profiting from sustainability.