Biog: Philip Partridge farms 330ha of arable and 40ha of permanent pasture in partnership with his mother Sylvia and sister, Joy, near Ipswich, Suffolk. His late father, Mark, moved to the farm in 1953. The current rotation is wheat, barley (spring and winter), rye, beans and this coming season, soya for the first time. He has a small flock of sheep and 200 head of fattening cattle which are bought in as stores and fed on a mixed ration of home-grown cereals and pulses. The soil types are Hanslope, Beccles, Burlingham, Newport and Melford – Philip is very keen to learn more about his soils and to improve soil fertility. He is married to Anita and has two children, Karl and Fabian.

Title: Mixed harvest prompts rethink for 2017

Harvest 2016 was a mixed picture. Our Glacier winter barley yielded a disappointing 3t/acre, wheat varieties Reflection yielded 4t/acre and Evolution did well at just over 4t/acre. Winter bean variety, Tundra, was disappointing too, yielding just over 1.5t/acre, despite looking great during the growing season. However, the highlight of the harvest was a four-wheat blend that I trialled following the lead from Steve Childs in Kent, it was by far our highest yielding crop.

We also trialled rye for the first time in partnership with KWS, it fits well with our rotation, particularly with our blackgrass issue. I’m no longer growing rape, I’m just not brave enough!

Our wheat is sold into local pools because we are short of storage on the farm. Last year our wheat price ranged from £115/t to £130/t – a long ways shy of the £200/t in 2012. Thankfully drying costs have been minimal and we fatten 200-head of cattle on the farm, so we can walk the grain off the farm on four legs instead of four wheels which helps spread the risk.

Looking ahead to 2017, we are trying four different wheat varieties – Siskin, Graham, Marston from DSV and Anapolis from Hutchinsons. We will continue to grow rye and plan to grow soya for the first time next spring – in theory, it fits well. Drilling is recommended into May which gives us an opportunity for a late blackgrass spray and it helps spread the spring workload.

Soya will be an interesting trial driven by a conversation with David Naughton of Soya UK – he currently contracts growers for 1,000 acres of production, he wants to increase it to 3,000 acres this coming season.

We also plan to join the local AHDB cost of production Benchmarking Plus group, I think it will be very valuable in focusing my mind on what works financially and what doesn’t.