A 690 acre, family owned farm combining a mainly arable business with cattle and sheep. I am the fourth generation and my wife and I have three sons and a daughter.
Farmer: Keith Harris
Address: Manor Farm, Silton, Gillingham, Dorset, SP8 5PR
Member since 1996 and LEAF Demonstration Farm since 1997
Silton Manor Farm is a 690 acre, family owned farm combining a mainly arable business with cattle and sheep. Soils vary from predominately stone brash to medium clays. Harvest and much of the cultivation are done by the family with contractors helping outside school holidays. Wheat is the main crop and sold to local merchants. Varieties are selected to suit the soil type which varies across the farm. Wheat grown is mainly for livestock feed, whilst some milling wheats are grown for biscuit-making and bread. Winter oilseed rape and arable silage are typical break crops. Flower crops are often grown including borage, Echium and Corn Cromwell. As well as incorporating the straw from the break crops, wheat straw is also incorporated to raise the soil organic matter content. All crops are established using minimal tillage wherever possible.
The farm has a 4.9mW solar PV installation in the middle of the farm, predominantly on an old landfill site, which provides valuable energy for the local community.
The farm has a mixture of margins, from one to six metres wide, areas of rough grass in wet, tricky corners or carefully placed around the farm for maximum benefit. These act as buffers between hedgerows/ditches and the crop and provide valuable habitats for birds, small mammals and insects. Beetle Banks divide the larger fields to provide wildlife havens and even harbour beneficial insects which help to control insect pests in the crop. Skylarks, brown hares and snipe are often seen on the farm.
The farms’ water comes from on-farm springs which also feed the lakes and wetlands. Burning chipped wood from the farm provides heat and hot water for the farm house, office and other buildings with the benefit of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).
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