Guy Prudom

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Together with his parents, Guy Prudom rents three farms totalling about 324 hectares (800 acres) of predominantly upland pastures.

Guy runs about 230 suckler cows and 65 replacement heifers, using Stabiliser bulls on the cows and Angus bulls on the heifers. The herd is spring calving and replacement heifers are sourced on-farm.

Calves are weaned at about 200 days old, at an average weaning weight of around 285kg, and put on a home-grown ration consisting of crimped grains, wholecropped beans and grass silage. Finishing cattle are weighed monthly, sold deadweight to either Dunbia or Dovecote.

When the latter units were taken on, the family began the transition to an organic farming system, which they stayed with until around 2016 when  they lost a 48.5ha (120-acre) all-grass tenancy, and the decision was made to return to conventional agriculture, although lessons learned from being organic are still used.

On the arable front, the decision was made to move away from min (max) till and rotational ploughing to strip tillage. The family has been crimping cereals for nearly 20 years, which has brought the harvest date forward by up to three weeks. Another advantage has been the amount of weed seeds collected in the grain tank and removed off the field.

Wholecropping beans has been another major bonus. Everything is removed from the field, weeds and all.

Autumn-sown cover crops in front of spring cropping has been undertaken since 2007. Cover crop mixture has evolved into a 75 per cent black oat, 20 per cent mustard and 5 per cent stubble turnip mix.

As an experiment, a winter forage rye was direct drilled into wheat stubble for a winter cover crop. This was wholecropped at the end of April 2023 and provided a useful amount of forage.

Soil testing has been integral for more than 15 years and is carried out on a four-year rotation across the whole farm.

The family has used bio-stimulants since their organic days – Atlantic Gold, a seaweed extract, on the beans at emergence and full flowering, has proved particularly successful.

Electric fencing about a metre from the hedges and stone walls has helped create the perfect space for wildflowers, insects and mammals.

The farm is six years into the strip till, Mzuri system, and soil organic levels are now pushing 4 per cent across most fields. The soil improvements mean cover crops can now be established by just using the rear coulter bar,  saving soil damage, diesel and time.