J.N. Fuller-Shapcott & Co., Scottish Borders
Making efficient use of machinery is a key aim for David Fuller-Shapcott, who farms on very heavy brown forest gley, with a clay content of between 25-40 per cent. He is currently operating a min-till system and plans to progress this to no-till in the near future.
A key investment has been a min-till cultivator, which he says is simple to use, works well and fits in with the farm’s progression from inversion towards no-till.
A front fertiliser hopper and rear mounted small seeds box enables winter oilseed rape establishment in one pass. The Subdisc has a rear mounted coulter bar for ‘drilling the rape’ behind the packer roll. The electric signal for the OSR seeder box is taken from an adaptation to the fertiliser hopper metering wheel, reducing operational complexity.
By adding a sprayer front tank, filled from the rear, David has increased spraying capacity by 50 per cent.
He is doing five Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) trials this year, measuring indicators via tissue analysis and soil analysis, seeking to understand weaknesses in the system, for example, lack of nutrition in the soil.
Through YEN he says he is trying to work out how to produce greater yields from the same area and believes that if ‘you don’t change, you can’t expect things to get better’.
Although he does variable rate drilling, he has yet to be convinced by the hype surrounding variable rate fertilising.
David says moving to a direct drilling and no-till regime relies on continued availability of glyphosate with the alternative being a return to the plough, which he believes would be a backward step.
He does not have black-grass and wants to keep it that way, remaining vigilant over grass weed control.
The judges said about David: David is very positive about the sector which he is so passionately involved with and his forward thinking approach is evident in all aspects of his arable work. He has a clear vision for where he would like to take the farm in future, but is well aware of the threats coming over the horizon and will adjust accordingly.
On winning, David said: “We didn’t think for one moment we would win being up against such strong finalists. We try and look at all areas of our farm business and try and think out of the box. If you don’t make changes then you can’t expect things to be any different. It is too easy to get stuck in a rut. Tonight really has been worth every moment.”