Why are Velcourt not direct/zero drilling on a large scale?

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Clients prefer to see their land farmed in a certain way perhaps? For someone unused to it, drilling into a load of green matter/cover crop doesn't look right?
I am learning just how much "not looking bad" stops people. Everything we do here probably looks terrible to most people who look over the fence, because their own picture is just so different.
I do think that farmers set a really low bar for themselves. in terms of what they see as possible, in terms of what they see as "enough profit to carry on another year" and relate a lot of it back to: more produce to sell=better chances

few wish to see that a farmer somewhere else in the world with massive risks and low costs can generally achieve much better business KPIs with a system they aren't familiar with, and explain it away so they don't need to be responsible for pee-poor-performance despite "great yields"
 

ajd132

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Suffolk
Mini Me is working on a Velcourt farm this year and they have a drill for every day of the week.
One is a dd, but they have ploughs too.
It’s pointless being like this. You either commit or you don’t. All you do is make your overheads go up by having every bit of kit available for every system. The only saving you get is a bit of fuel when you do decide to DD a crop.
 

ajd132

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Suffolk
Velcourt are a well respected organisation that offer a service to land owners. I have several friends who are former Velcourt managers. The prime directive is to make money for Velcourt and not necessarily for the client’s maximum advantage.
I suspect that with the ending of BPS, Velcourt will be forced to adopt Zero-till a lot more in future.
A big company like velcourt have a whole extra layer of overhead in their costs compared to most farm businesses.
 

MX7

Member
Location
cotswolds
A big company like velcourt have a whole extra layer of overhead in their costs compared to most farm businesses.
Please can you elaborate on what you say above,so that I can understand more about how Velcourt administration works when farming land all over the Uk.Thanks
 

ajd132

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Suffolk
Please can you elaborate on what you say above,so that I can understand more about how Velcourt administration works when farming land all over the Uk.Thanks
A whole extra layer of management and pensions etc for a big company like that
 

Humble Village Farmer

Member
NFFN Member
Location
Cb97ej
It’s pointless being like this. You either commit or you don’t. All you do is make your overheads go up by having every bit of kit available for every system. The only saving you get is a bit of fuel when you do decide to DD a crop.
Actually if you have a big enough farm and could afford 2 drills, there are several crops you might choose to DD and some you might not.
 

Nearly

Member
Location
North of York
It’s pointless being like this. You either commit or you don’t. All you do is make your overheads go up by having every bit of kit available for every system. The only saving you get is a bit of fuel when you do decide to DD a crop.
Actually if you have a big enough farm and could afford 2 drills, there are several crops you might choose to DD and some you might not.
5000 acres across different soil types and crops. I wouldn't want to rely on one drill in the new autumns that we're having.
 

Spud

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
YO62
It’s pointless being like this. You either commit or you don’t. All you do is make your overheads go up by having every bit of kit available for every system. The only saving you get is a bit of fuel when you do decide to DD a crop.
I disagree. If you are restricted to one system, you're stuck with it, wether that be weather restricted or overly expensive establishment. To me, direct drilling is as much a strategic choice as ploughing, the choice most often being dictated by rotation position.
I sow 600ac of combinable crops on four soil types and 300ac of cover crops. 3 drills.
 

ajd132

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Suffolk
Actually if you have a big enough farm and could afford 2 drills, there are several crops you might choose to DD and some you might not.
Yes two drills maybe more. But the cost of having the kit and staff on 5000 acres to do ploughing/max till and no till is very expensive. You can do it but my point is you aren’t actually gaining from a reduced overhead system. The only miniscule saving you would gain is some fuel on establishment. You still have to pay all the staff and buy all the machines for the ploughing.
if you are a smaller farm, with lots of older depreciated kit and family labour it’s a-bit different I suppose but is still kind of missing one of the main point. You really are just doing the odd bit of direct drilling when it suits which is fine if that’s what you want to do.
We’ve got rid of the majority of the cultivation kit but have got an old Ld subsoiler and a couple of old worthless John Deere and browns cultivators, fine for small areas if really needed but you cannot do 5000 acres with them!
 

ajd132

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Suffolk
I disagree. If you are restricted to one system, you're stuck with it, wether that be weather restricted or overly expensive establishment. To me, direct drilling is as much a strategic choice as ploughing, the choice most often being dictated by rotation position.
I sow 600ac of combinable crops on four soil types and 300ac of cover crops. 3 drills.
Yes, this is where smaller farms are much more manouverable.
 

cvx175

Member
Location
cumbria
Yes two drills maybe more. But the cost of having the kit and staff on 5000 acres to do ploughing/max till and no till is very expensive. You can do it but my point is you aren’t actually gaining from a reduced overhead system. The only miniscule saving you would gain is some fuel on establishment. You still have to pay all the staff and buy all the machines for the ploughing.
if you are a smaller farm, with lots of older depreciated kit and family labour it’s a-bit different I suppose but is still kind of missing one of the main point. You really are just doing the odd bit of direct drilling when it suits which is fine if that’s what you want to do.
We’ve got rid of the majority of the cultivation kit but have got an old Ld subsoiler and a couple of old worthless John Deere and browns cultivators, fine for small areas if really needed but you cannot do 5000 acres with them!
But the cultivation kit they already had before starting dd will be doing less so could be kept longer they wouldn't be going out to buy it all
 

ajd132

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Suffolk
But the cultivation kit they already had before starting dd will be doing less so could be kept longer they wouldn't be going out to buy it all
Very true. we kept a topdown for a while. I guess it depends if you are just strategically sometimes direct drilling or if you are committed to a whole conervsatiin ag/ not till system.
 

Spud

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
YO62
Yes, this is where smaller farms are much more manouverable.
Not sure how that thinking works tbh. It'd be easier to justify if we were twice the size!

Don't underestimate the cost saving of max til v direct drilling. Yes the kit & labour is still there. If it does less it costs less.

To an extent, it depends on time demands from other enterprises on the farm
 

teslacoils

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lincolnshire
What do all the staff do in winter under DD? Fair doos with family labour, but if your drilling window is smaller, just what do you do with the staff for four months of the year.
 

Spud

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
YO62
What do all the staff do in winter under DD? Fair doos with family labour, but if your drilling window is smaller, just what do you do with the staff for four months of the year.
Why is it ok with family labour? Do they not need an income too?

Wheat rape & Tenerife farms are increasingly a part time job. Bit of cleaning & servicing soon done.

Lads here still on 50+hrs a week, I'm half as much again. Stock & root crops keep us busy.

Besides, if you're max till to give staff summat to do, you have the spreadsheet upside down!
 

ajd132

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Suffolk
Not sure how that thinking works tbh. It'd be easier to justify if we were twice the size!

Don't underestimate the cost saving of max til v direct drilling. Yes the kit & labour is still there. If it does less it costs less.

To an extent, it depends on time demands from other enterprises on the farm
Because when you scale up the kit needs replacing more often and you need more staff. Trust me I know! Remember most big farms are renting or contract farming large areas so you lost a large chunk of income.
I bet a large amount of people contract farming do not realise that they are not making money in a lot of the years. Return to contractor vs overheads. Just because the cfa turned a profit does not mean that translates to profit for the contractor!
 

Spud

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
YO62
Because when you scale up the kit needs replacing more often and you need more staff. Trust me I know! Remember most big farms are renting or contract farming large areas so you lost a large chunk of income.
I bet a large amount of people contract farming do not realise that they are not making money in a lot of the years. Return to contractor vs overheads. Just because the cfa turned a profit does not mean that translates to profit for the contractor!
How is a contractor not making money?

Fair enough higher scale wears stuff out faster, and more kit means more capital tied up, but if it does less work it lasts longer, and if stubble to stubble costs can be lowered by strategic direct drilling, surely that equals more left in the pot?
 

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