At P.X. Farms, we understand the importance of reducing environmental impact and input costs while increasing crop yield and farming efficiency. Led by fourth-generation farmer and P.X. Farms Managing Director James Peck, we are custodians of the land, dedicated to improving the condition of the land to hand it over to future generations. We work with highly skilled and trained agronomists. Drawing on our unique, in-depth knowledge and expertise we promote healthy soil through soil sampling, efficient drainage, long term management, and cutting edge farming practices. In particular, controlled traffic farming (CTF) and good drainage have permitted rotational change that would otherwise have not been possible.
James Peck explains: “We are in our 10th year of CTF, reducing the trafficked areas of land from 86% to 13%. Now 87% of the land is untouched by a tractor wheel for 12 months, and we have seen the soil restructure.”
The soils surrounding our base at Scotland Farm are chalk and boulder clay, which restricts the ability to grow certain crops. But due to the improvements in the soil from CTF, the soil indices have improved by almost a grade. Where drainage had initially been put in place much of it had failed, so we have added new drains which prevent water pooling on the land and soils becoming compacted.
By minimising compaction, we can grow sugar beet and potatoes which need high-quality soils to thrive.
“Wheat takes a back seat.” says James. “It can be drilled later into healthier soil and weed control is made easier as the strong crop growth can outcompete weeds.”
We now drill wheat from September to February instead of in October, grow the first wheat and due to the improved soil conditions can drill following root crops. Dependent on the soil, P.X. Farms grows between eight and 15 crops in rotation – and James explains: “A longer rotation makes for healthier crops and gives more opportunities to control problem weeds such as black-grass, brome and couch. Research has shown that if we simply switch to spring crops, weeds soon adapt, but a wide rotation with a range of timings can avoid this.”
Drainage schemes have been designed by experts in drainage, William Morfoot Ltd. They have been draining land across the UK for almost half a century, and have designed drainage to work alongside our CTF patterns, installing mole drains in the same direction as the tramlines and wheelways.
Find out more about our long term soil health programme.