Stratton Farms, based in the picturesque Somerset village of Stratton on the Fosse is home for two neighbouring Duchy of Cornwall tenant farmers, Jeremy Padfield and Rob Addicott. Jeremy operates from Church Farm and Rob from Manor Farm.
Working together as neighbouring farmers has brought many benefits to Rob and Jeremy such as shared machinery and investment costs. It has also allowed them to take up a number of precision farming techniques to help their businesses become more sustainable.
The farms are primarily arable but also have beef and sheep enterprises. In addition to this, the partnership runs an arable contracting business within an eight mile radius of the farm. The farming partnership operates around 1350 acres of arable land with soil types varying from stony brash, heavy clay to loamy soils.
Winter wheat (feed and milling), winter barley, spring barley, oilseed rape and spring beans are grown in the rotation. Other break crops grown include lupins, linseed, canary seed and red clover leys. Many of
the crops are sold and delivered direct to a local feed mill whilst others are sold to premium export markets or grown on contract to a specific end user. All straw is utilised within the livestock enterprises or sold to local farms. All fields are broken down into zones and soil tested every three or four years. In addition, variable rate nutrients are applied using GPS technology to ensure accurate placement. Stratton Farms also encourages its contracting customers to adopt the principles of IFM whether that is low disturbance establishment of crops to soil zoning and regular testing of nutrients and organic matter in order to help make their clients businesses more resilient and sustainable.
There is a further 440 acres of land which is in grassland or is involved in agri environment schemes. The grassland area is made up of permanent pasture, red clover or herb legume leys.
The 300 beef heifers are bought in as four week old calves and are reared on farm and sold to a local butcher or to the local livestock market. The breeds are Aberdeen Angus and British Blue and they are grazed throughout the spring and summer, housed through the winter months and fed home grown silage, barley and beans. The manure from this enterprise is stockpiled and spread on the arable fields which increases valuable nutrients and organic matter and helps keep soils in good health.
The sheep enterprise is evolving at Manor Farm where they graze virtually all year round. When the cattle are housed in November, they often follow on to the pastures where the cattle have grazed throughout the summer. Cover crops are also grazed extensively over the winter and lambing starts in March.
Stratton farms are also an AGRI – EPI farm which allows researchers and developers a test bed to trial new precision farming engineering and technologies.
Rob and Jeremy share many common interests and conservation is one that they are both passionate about. For many years they have been involved in agri-environment schemes and currently have around 1,150 acres under a Mid Tier agreement of which around 16 % of the land is in conservation management practices. These range from low input grassland, herbal leys, wild bird seed mixes, legume fallows and a comprehensive hedgerow management plan with most hedges being cut 1 year in 3. Over 20 acres of trees and 2,000 metres of new hedges have been planted in recent years and an ancient orchard has also been restored.
Rainwater is harvested and used for a variety of uses including drinking water for cattle and for filling the sprayer. Two solar installations on the rooves of farm buildings supply electricity to the farming business and also help to run the grain drier at harvest. Another renewable project has been a biomass boiler running off woodchip which provides energy for three houses.
Stratton Farms have always been keen supporters of LEAF Open Farm Sunday. Since the initiative was launched in 2006, the number of people visiting Stratton Farms has grown from hundreds to thousands. In addition, the partnership welcomes many visits throughout the year from school children, local wildlife groups and farmer groups and works with the educational charity Farmlink. An abundance of footpaths and bridleways across much of the farmland allows walkers and riders to be educated along their route with LEAF information boards.
Farming is still the core of the partnership but over the years
the two families have diversified their businesses operating a range of
enterprises from horse livery, storage units, cut flower and vegetable gardens
to pop up café’s. Some traditional cattle buildings at Manor farm were also
converted into high quality offices where now 50 people are employed in a
beautiful rural setting. There is also a site for a direct access community,
providing a place for change for many rural homeless people, as well as giving
them meaningful activity in a newly established community garden as well as
woodworking and pottery workshops.
Visit this farm
Click here to arrange a visit to this LEAF Demonstration Farm.