Small farm low maintenance advice

Drumbroider

Member
Mixed Farmer
I am looking for suggestions on cropping that I haven’t thought of. I have a round 80-100acres that I have been grazing and cropping for fodder and am looking to see if anyone has and suggestions of alternative cropping ideas that are low maintenance. I work outside farming as well as running the small farm. I have machinery to maintain it as it is but would be happy to change if needed.

it’s at around 180m above sea level in central Scotland. Is a clay soil, top souls varies from about 400-600mm and has relatively good drainage and maintained to a good standard. We also have a small livery yard but don’t want to expand that much more. Not easy to get on the ground in winter due to the weather in the area but generally fine in summer.

I am not looking for a huge income as my other job is the main bread winner. It needs to pay for its self and make a wee bit to make the time worth while. Don’t want to plant trees all over it as I live in the middle and have nice views so not keen to replace them with a forest.

interested to see what everyone thinks would be the best plan for the long term. I love farming and would do it full time if it payed more than my other job but that’s not likely on the farm I have. Pluswhen I did do it full time in the past the stress v profit just doesn’t stack up. Not the way I was doing it anyway.
 
I am looking for suggestions on cropping that I haven’t thought of. I have a round 80-100acres that I have been grazing and cropping for fodder and am looking to see if anyone has and suggestions of alternative cropping ideas that are low maintenance. I work outside farming as well as running the small farm. I have machinery to maintain it as it is but would be happy to change if needed.

it’s at around 180m above sea level in central Scotland. Is a clay soil, top souls varies from about 400-600mm and has relatively good drainage and maintained to a good standard. We also have a small livery yard but don’t want to expand that much more. Not easy to get on the ground in winter due to the weather in the area but generally fine in summer.

I am not looking for a huge income as my other job is the main bread winner. It needs to pay for its self and make a wee bit to make the time worth while. Don’t want to plant trees all over it as I live in the middle and have nice views so not keen to replace them with a forest.

interested to see what everyone thinks would be the best plan for the long term. I love farming and would do it full time if it payed more than my other job but that’s not likely on the farm I have. Pluswhen I did do it full time in the past the stress v profit just doesn’t stack up. Not the way I was doing it anyway.
What in the cropping is creating the workload?

I am assuming you are conserving forage... Do you need to?
 

Flat 10

Member
Location
Fen Edge
Grow spring barley get contractors to do most of the work that you have no time for. Then sow stubble turnips to let someone else graze. Repeat. No idea if this would suit but relatively sustainable. You won’t make fortunes but it keeps the place tidy? I assume you are ploughable or you wouldn’t have asked on cropping.......
 
Grow spring barley get contractors to do most of the work that you have no time for. Then sow stubble turnips to let someone else graze. Repeat. No idea if this would suit but relatively sustainable. You won’t make fortunes but it keeps the place tidy? I assume you are ploughable or you wouldn’t have asked on cropping.......
How do you get stubble turnips to grow in central Scotland after spring barley. In my experience you wouldn’t get much of a crop.
 

Drumbroider

Member
Mixed Farmer
What in the cropping is creating the workload?

I am assuming you are conserving forage... Do you need to?
Currently do Haylage on bits of it for the livery’s, do a bit of grazing rental on some bits and aftermath on what’s cropped. It’s not a bad system for me but interested to see if their is anything else I can do that I haven’t thought off.
 

Drumbroider

Member
Mixed Farmer
Grow spring barley get contractors to do most of the work that you have no time for. Then sow stubble turnips to let someone else graze. Repeat. No idea if this would suit but relatively sustainable. You won’t make fortunes but it keeps the place tidy? I assume you are ploughable or you wouldn’t have asked on cropping.......
All ploghable. It’s the wether that’s killing me recently. Seems to be getting wetter and wetter when the grass is ready to cut and last year I missed the boat as I would have needed a boat. That combined with another job and contracts being a bit hit and miss made last years crop a disaster.

Plus everyone seems to have jumped into Haylage in my area now and selling it for peanuts. Think people must be struggling with the sums on the expenses as the prices they are selling it for they can’t be making any money.
 

Frodo

Member
Location
Scotland (east)
Where are you in central Scotland?
If in they will rent land for peas/potatoes/brassicait would be ideal. My rotation would be peas wheat potatoes sb broccoli sb
 

Drumbroider

Member
Mixed Farmer
Where are you in central Scotland?
If in they will rent land for peas/potatoes/brassicait would be ideal. My rotation would be peas wheat potatoes sb broccoli sb
Don’t think we would have much joy on that rotation. To far up the hill I think. Near Falkirk.
Plus I am more interested in keeping away from renting it all out. I enjoy farming and want to do it myself but trying to find something manageable. I have lots of options if I do long term let’s but the rent is low and will loose me money overall with subsidies (I know that may change soon) I am currently better making a mess of it and breaking even then renting it out financially.
 
Currently do Haylage on bits of it for the livery’s, do a bit of grazing rental on some bits and aftermath on what’s cropped. It’s not a bad system for me but interested to see if their is anything else I can do that I haven’t thought off.
Wouldn't it be simpler then to rent out the grazing, and buy-in the winter fodder for the Livery? I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but if you struggle to actually make hay/haylage because of other work constraints, maybe time to consider an alternative?

I can see a bit of cropped cereals might be useful for straw for the livery system too, but do you really want to be ploughing up the land? As the good Doctor has said, you need to be geared for cereals unless snear neighbour wants to grow them...?
 

yellowbelly

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
N.Lincs
Have you got any young farming neighbours wanting to branch out on their own?

Come to some share farming type of arrangement so they can look after your grazing livestock. That way you're not just letting out your grassland and still have some involvement/control.
 

Drumbroider

Member
Mixed Farmer
Have you got any young farming neighbours wanting to branch out on their own?

Come to some share farming type of arrangement so they can look after your grazing livestock. That way you're not just letting out your grassland and still have some involvement/control.
I’m only 38 myself so keen to do it myself. Looking to set it up as a retirement business.

I have neighbours that would be keen to take it on but it’s not worth it. The rent for a year works out to less than the subsidies and after a few years all the fences need done as they don’t maintain thinkings like I do myself. Plus if I get beasts on it they make a lot of mess and damage any fences that aren’t electric. About half have been upgraded and have hot top wires but not done everything yet.

I would think about stock myself as a buy graze for a bit then sell method. Fattening lambs or beasts for a while. I grew up with stock and although I enjoy it I’d prefer to be tractor based.

I may already be doing the best I can with what I have. Just think it’s worth a bit of brain storming after last year.
 

Drumbroider

Member
Mixed Farmer
Wouldn't it be simpler then to rent out the grazing, and buy-in the winter fodder for the Livery? I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but if you struggle to actually make hay/haylage because of other work constraints, maybe time to consider an alternative?

I can see a bit of cropped cereals might be useful for straw for the livery system too, but do you really want to be ploughing up the land? As the good Doctor has said, you need to be geared for cereals unless snear neighbour wants to grow them...?
I don’t think cereal is the option to go for. I have mentioned why not fully let it in other comments.

It is a struggle to may Hay/Haylage and I have bought it in in the past so that is an option I am comfortable with. But if you don’t farm you don’t get any subsidies and I also enjoy farming. Need to have machinery for the livery land anyway so no big hassle to try for haylage/hay. If it goes wrong I can try and flog it to local beef guys.

the issue is I have more land than I can use the hay/Haylage on and would like to do something with it. I was planning on going bigger on the fodder but it’s proving hard in the wether windows we have and before I commit was looking at options.
 

DrWazzock

Member
Location
Lincolnshire
But won’t the subsidies gradually be withdrawn anyway going forward, even if you farm it yourself? So letting it would be no disadvantage from the subsidy aspect. Might be different in Scotland but that will be the case down here.
If we want income from the government down here then we need to enter into stewardship agreements and even then they are no longer as generous as BPS but more in line with the return you’d expect from a crop.
 

czechmate

Member
Mixed Farmer
I’m only 38 myself so keen to do it myself. Looking to set it up as a retirement business.

I have neighbours that would be keen to take it on but it’s not worth it. The rent for a year works out to less than the subsidies and after a few years all the fences need done as they don’t maintain thinkings like I do myself. Plus if I get beasts on it they make a lot of mess and damage any fences that aren’t electric. About half have been upgraded and have hot top wires but not done everything yet.

I would think about stock myself as a buy graze for a bit then sell method. Fattening lambs or beasts for a while. I grew up with stock and although I enjoy it I’d prefer to be tractor based.

I may already be doing the best I can with what I have. Just think it’s worth a bit of brain storming after last year.

Crikey, it does sound grim (weather wise) if you are struggling to make wrapped bales!🌨
 

Rejuvenating swards: Which option is best?

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Written by Brian McDonnell

Maintaining grass quality during mid-season grazing is important. Farmers can maintain quality by entering ideal grazing covers of 1,300 – 1,500kg DM/ha, and grazing down to a residual of 4cm every rotation.

If you are now in a situation where cows are not cleaning out paddocks as well as they should be, leading to the development of steamy grass within the sward, here are some options.

Common options for rejuvenating swards include:

  1. Take a silage cut, probably into bales, remove the material and start again with the aftermath...
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