Sponsored by: Spaldings

Max Chenery

Whatton Estate Farm, Leicestershire

Determined to take a fresh approach to running a farm he took over two years ago, Max Chenery has focused on marketing, crop rotations and establishment.

New crop marketing techniques are beginning to allow the farming business to set its own prices for crops. He has started growing spelt, 60 hectares for harvest 2018, which is dehulled and either sold to mills or milled and sold to end consumers including bakers and farm shops.

He also wants to reduce volatility in the business by getting closer to the end consumer.

While spelt is slower to drill and combine, bulky to store and has a yield lower than conventional wheat, it requires half as much nitrogen and fungicides and he is looking to increase the area grown.

He is also hoping to press, bottle and sell oilseed rape to local farm shops and to set up a farmer co-operative to sell wheat directly to mills for a cost plus type fixed contract, reducing exposure to grain market volatility.

Max is also looking at potential end markets for beans, such as brewing them to produce beer.

Changing practises

Crop rotations have been changed to include a higher level of legumes in order to reduce the need for artificial nitrogen. They include wheat, oilseed rape, barley, grass leys for the beef enterprise and beans and soya have been introduced with plans also to make use of cover crops.

He is moving away from deep cultivation previously practised on the farm to direct drilling and is trying to build more carbon into the soil to improve soil structure, stability and fertility.

Looking ahead Max is doing a lot of soil sampling with the aim of finding a way to reduce chemical and fertiliser inputs.