Winter wheat makes up over 35% of our cropped area. We mainly grow wheat for animal feed, with usually four or five varieties used each year to maximise agronomic benefits. Wheat is sown between October and December to then be harvested in the summer months, usually August. It is stored on farm.
Oilseed Rape is also another main crop on the farm. Again, about four different varieties are chosen each year to be grown. Oilseed Rape has a variety of uses such as cooking oil, animal feed and biodiesel. Rape drilling is completed in August with the Oilseed Rape being one of the earliest crops ready to harvest in July.
Combinable peas are grown each year for both the animal feed market and also for human consumption. We grow large blue varieties. Peas are drilled in the spring and harvested using the combine in August. The peas are harvested dry.
Spring Barley is grown on the farm due to its competitiveness against our nemesis grassweed, blackgrass. Barley will either be sold for malting (beer production), distilling or may be sold for animal feed. Usually sown in March, spring barley is ready for combining in August.
All combinable crops are stored on farm.
Some Wheat, Barley and Peas are saved after harvest to be used as seed for the following year. As part of Integrated Crop Management (ICM) this seed is tested prior to drilling to see if it needs fungicide dressing.
Sugar Beet is grown for British Sugar on a contract. The seed is drilled into warming soils in the spring with harvest occurring between October and February when the British Sugar factories are operational. Once it arrives at the factory for processing, it is processed to extract the sugar content of the plant. Sugar beet roots are approximately 18% sugar.
Potatoes are almost a year round crop on the farm. Planted in the spring, they then require irrigating, or watering, from May until August, weather depending. In a dry year they could require irrigating right up until lifting in October. Irrigating is done using boom irrigators which apply the water gently and evenly. As far as possible, water is applied overnight to minimise losses.
Potatoes are lifted in late September and October using a Grimme self propelled harvester with a tank. This means that trailers can be left on the headlands to be filled rather than multiple tractors and trailers having to drive simultaneously up and down the field. This is both safer and better for the soil structure as less compaction is caused.
The harvested potatoes are graded into boxes and stored on farm in a modern 5000 tonne Aspire shed, which was built in 2017 with the aid of a European Union grant.
Potatoes are sold into the chipping trade from November through to July. For this, they need to be graded again and then weighed into paper sacks.
The potato crop cycle spans three years. In the first year the seed is grown on a specialised seed producing farm. These seed potatoes are then transported to potato growers for planting the following spring in year 2 and harvesting in the Autumn. Then, in year 3, the potatoes are stored and then sold to whichever market they have been produced for.
Most combinable crops on the farm are baled, alongside straw purchased in swath from other local farms to be baled and carted back for storage in stacks at Dyke Fen Farm. After a contract with the power station at Sleaford is fulfilled, the remaining straw is sold through merchants to livestock farmers in the west of the country and occasionally also exported to The Netherlands.
Take a look at our gallery to see our how we have grown and looked after our produce in the fields for many years.