Area - 500 acres
Type - Arable and Livestock
Soils - Heavy Evesham Lias Clay, Blue Clay, Red Marl
Cropping - Wheat, Barley, OSR, Beans, Maize, Grass
Machinery - Mzuri Pro-Til, Mzuri Rehab, Case Puma 215
Farming the Future: The Mzuri Pro-Til Revolution at Pirton Court Farm
Nestled amidst the tranquil beauty of Worcestershire’s countryside, Pirton Court Farm thrives as a 500-acre arable, livestock farm under the expert management of Nick Baxter. Embracing the spirit of progress and sustainability, Nick has embarked on a transformative journey with the Mzuri Pro-Til drill. This state-of-the-art technology has revolutionised crop establishment and environmental impact on the farm, marking a turning point in Nick’s approach to farming practices.
Traditionally reliant on conventional establishment methods, Nick’s curiosity was piqued by the Mzuri system’s potential to enhance crop performance and reduce environmental impact. After witnessing a demonstration of the Pro-Til, he wasted no time and acquired the Pro-Til 3T in 2018, supported by a Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) grant. Five years on, the Pro-Til has become an indispensable part of Nick’s farming resource, fostering increased efficiency and productivity.
In addition to the arable side of the business and giving even more reason to streamline the labour requirements of crop establishment, Pirton Court Farm operates a 60-head suckler herd, whose progeny, combined with bought-in rearing calves, contributes to a herd of 150 cattle finished on-site annually. Additionally, up to 300 store lambs are purchased from late Summer to early Autumn and grazed until they reach optimal condition the following Spring.
With a balance of arable and livestock enterprises to cater for, Nick’s crop rotation encompasses Wheat, Barley, Oilseed Rape (OSR), and Beans as primary crops, while Maize and Rotational Grass are grown to provide fodder for the finishing cattle. However, limited storage capacity restricts the farm’s ability to expand its crop rotation. To optimise the soil’s nutrient levels, Nick incorporates break crops, reducing the consecutive production of cereals.
To achieve the best results, Nick follows a strategic approach of planting Stubble Turnips after harvesting Barley, to finish the store lambs on. Once grazed, the field receives an application of farmyard manure before sowing with Spring Beans. This allows the following crop of Wheat to capitalise on the nutrients introduced by the previous crops, resulting in higher yields and superior quality.
The Mzuri Pro-Til has proven to be a game-changer for Pirton Court Farm, delivering consistent and robust crop establishment. Equipped with independent coulters, each with its own depth wheel, the Pro-Til ensures accurate seed placement and optimal soil-to-seed contact, leading to quick germination and vigorous growth.
Since adopting the Mzuri system, Nick has noticed significant fuel savings and continuous soil improvement. The system promotes leaving previous crop residue on the field surface and straw retention to prevent soil erosion and minimise moisture evaporation whilst increasing organic matter. Moreover, the system enables the soil to retain water more effectively, mitigating leaching and topsoil runoff. Soil tests have confirmed that the previously compact Evesham Lias Clay soil at Pirton Court Farm now showcases improved structure and fertility.
The Mzuri Pro-Til’s environmentally conscious approach resonates deeply with Nick, who has witnessed a decrease in foliar diseases and consequently reduced the need for fungicide applications. This shift towards fewer chemical applications aligns with the farm’s commitment to sustainability, especially as environmental pressures from the Government continue to rise.
The wide row spacings of the Pro-Til are designed to allow for increased air circulation, reducing fungal pressure and promoting robust crop growth. Furthermore, the enhanced light interception allows plants to thrive even during consistently wet growing seasons, granting a remarkable advantage to farmers facing such challenges.
Nick’s experience with the Mzuri system has not only improved crop yields but also optimised operational efficiency. Employing the Mzuri one-pass system for uniform seedbed sowing has resulted in reduced labour costs. The Pro-Til’s efficiency has been so transformative that the farm no longer requires a third full-time staff member.
Nick comments “We no longer spend three days working a field before drilling.”
Over time, Pirton Court Farm has witnessed a rise in gross margins attributed to the decreased expense of establishing crops using the Pro-Til. This cost-effectiveness and increased crop quality has resulted in a thriving farming enterprise.
As Nick Baxter’s success story continues to inspire neighbouring farmers, the Mzuri Pro-Til stands as a beacon of innovation and sustainability in modern agriculture. With its capacity to improve crop performance, minimise environmental impact, and optimise resource utilisation, the Pro-Til represents the future of responsible farming.
Nick’s journey with the Mzuri Pro-Til showcases the potential for positive change when farmers embrace cutting-edge technology and adopt practices that harmonise with nature. As more farmers join this progressive movement, the landscape of agriculture is poised for a greener, more sustainable future. In Worcestershire’s green fields, Nick Baxter’s story stands as a testament to the power of innovation and the triumph of sustainable farming practices.