Christopher Padfield  -  Post Formal Education - nurturing and growing talent?

I live on work on a 4th generation family farm on the Gloucestershire / Worcestershire border.  It is a mixed farm consisting of a Beef fattening joint venture and growing combinable crops.  We have been direct drilling all crops including maize for the last decade.  The farm is entered into an HLS scheme which is central to our focus on creating wildlife habitat around the enterprise. We also run some stubble to stubble contracting.

After working abroad in Ghana, Guinea Bissau and France, I worked for a local agricultural college mainly assessing NVQ qualifications.  I also achieved qualifications in Internal and External Verification and a PGCE (adult education).  I then set up a small training company where we offer training services, mainly LANTRA and City and Guilds qualifications, aimed at the land-based skills sector.

When not working, I love riding motorbikes and drinking whisky.  Not a great combination though a recent biking trip to Islay managed to get the best of both worlds.

I would like to thank all those supporting my Nuffield Scholarship, not least the Central Region Farmers Trust for their sponsorship, and my wife and parents for their support and backing.


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Arable farming, crop storage, contracting and house develope

Jack Bienz - Arable farming, crop storage, contracting and house developer. 11th July

Posted by Christopher Padfield on August 2, 2015

Appears in Business, Crops

Jack Bienz - Arable farming, crop storage, contracting and house developer. 11th July

 Jack and his family farm 1000 acres in Lacolle, near Montreal. It was really interesting to find a farm very similar in size, structure and outlook to our own. The clue to the type of soil in the area is in the name 'la colle' which means glue in French.  Our farm is in Corse which is very similar to the word for 'bog' in Welsh. Jack stopped milking 240 cows in 2007 changing to an all cropping farm. The dairy quota was also sold.  The whole quota and its value left me stunned and almost made the EU system seem rational (the moment passes quickly). This move was part of a farm ownership restructure facilitated in part by Elaine Froese.

 grain siloBerna Farms







Jack mainly grew maize and soya. However unlike other farms on my tour these were all non gmo. The  maize attracted a $30 tonne premium over the border in Vermont. The was no yield loss, though weed control was more difficult and inter row mechanical harrowing was carried out thanks to gps steering systems. The IP (identity preserved) soya was sold for human consumption to Japan with a premium of $130 tonne. Jack was passionate about soil structure on this heavy land.  Firstly he concentrated on ensuring the drainage was correct often moving to drains every 20 ft which was much closer than the subsidized systems put in in previous decades. He would also level out wet spots. Whilst he had experimented with direct drilling, he felt an extra pass with a cultivator led to consistently higher yields, and easier trash control. He used green manures where possible such as oil radish and also tried to establish wheat by spinning it into standing soya. The resulting wheat was entirely dependent on being covered in snow to survive the winter and therefore was not always succesful. Rye was spun into maize before the rows closed to act as a soil stabaliser.

There was also a new grain storage, handling and drying systrm built as a joint venture with a neighbour.  It could handle 5500 tonnes of maize drying 25 tonnes / hour (25% down to 14%) with a well designed full heat recoverery system leading to cooled grain being dumped into the bins.

 Points to ponder- even in a well managed, dynamic farm the use of outside expertise can be essential  (e.g. succession planning) to set the business up for the next generation.



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