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Harvest 2021

Harvest 2021

There was a slight element of apprehension for Harvest 2021 within the business as the challenges of Harvest 2020 remained firmly in our memories. Whilst it is widely accepted that the industry is never straightforward, the previous year was particularly arduous and Dyson Farming were pleased to welcome improved yields and quality across the crops as Harvest 21 progressed. The well documented escalating costs of fertiliser and fuel added an element of pressure for the next harvest. Dyson Farming remain committed to investing in their soils with a renewed focus on cover cropping, utilisation of organic manures and advancement in precision technology such as “green on brown” and focusing on the wider environment whilst maintaining output at a lesser cost.

Cereal crops overall performed well with second wheat in some cases outperforming first. Reports of low bushel weights across several varieties were attributed to the frustration of a wet harvest without any rain. Increased volumes of ergot has been reported in some wheat samples; this was a consequence of the weather conditions and residual spores from previous cropping years however protein content across the board for milling wheat has been excellent. The largest area of winter wheat c.4,100ha is grown in Lincolnshire, the yields aligned with the 5-year average whilst Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire reported below their 5-year average.  

Spring barley results across the business have been encouraging with the entire crop for 2021 presenting low grain nitrogen levels and excellent germination which bodes well for malting barley requirements.

Energy and forage crops performed ahead of budget across the business and despite the spell of hot weather experienced in the middle of July which meant that an area of rye was set aside for combining as the dry matters were too dry, the overall quality has been good for gas production in our AD plants.

Potato yield was slightly below budget on processed however the packing potatoes yielded exceptionally well. Overall, the crop has performed in line with expectations and presented a good quality.

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Careers at Dyson Farming: Varied, cutting-edge and rewarding

Careers at Dyson Farming: Varied, cutting-edge and rewarding

Dyson Farming employs over 180 people with different skills and from different backgrounds.  Here we provide a snapshot of what a career at Dyson Farming can look like.

NOT JUST FARMING

There are a vast number of opportunities for individuals within Dyson Farming, from agronomists and natural scientists to accountants and commercial managers. It often surprises people what working for a farming business like Dyson Farming entails.

Dyson Farming’s HR Business Partner, Danniella Tomlinson:

“One day you can be recruiting for a harvest worker, another day it might be a joiner, another day it could be an assistant accountant position. It’s just so diverse.  People often assume you must be a farmer to work in agriculture. Dyson Farming is so much more than that and can offer amazingly diverse opportunities with excellent career prospects.”

OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

Dyson Farming is always on the lookout for bright, forward-thinking individuals, keen to develop their skills and get involved in new ideas and problem-solving.  Whether fresh from college or simply with an innate passion for farming, young people are the future of Dyson Farming; our average age is 39 as compared to the industry average of 59. 

We work closely with colleges such as Harper Adams University and the Royal Agricultural University, offering student placements to gain experience in their field of interest. We often have individuals come back to Dyson Farming once they finish studying.

Lucinda Smith is a graduate of Harper Adams University and is currently working at Dyson Farming as an agronomist, spending much of her time checking the crops in fields, reporting back her views and making recommendations to the farm teams for crop management.

Lucinda Smith, Dyson Farming agronomist:

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to complete the extra modules required for the Harper Adams graduate diploma in Agronomy with Environmental Management, funded by Dyson Farming. Going forward I am very excited to be responsible for the agronomy of all the potatoes at Dyson Farming.”

Dyson Farming also offers apprenticeships to individuals, which can range from crop technicians to land-based engineering. Jack Clark is an Apprentice Mechanic at Dyson Farming, helping to fix farm equipment and vehicles in need of repair.

Jack Clark explains:

“Dyson Farming support me a lot with training and courses such as first aid, manual handling and working at heights. I would love to progress further and reach my maximum potential within the company.”

INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY 

Dyson Farming is at the forefront of innovation and technology in the farming industry.  We are developing robots to pick strawberries and we have drones to map soil fertility, cameras on sprayers to spot weeds and bespoke software systems to interpret the huge amount of data produced.  Technology is already a big part of farming, and it is only going to get bigger.

Ed Ford, Dyson Farming’s Technical Agronomist:

“I started here as an agronomist and my role has evolved into technical agronomy.  Technology and data management are growing parts of the operations, helping to drive efficiency and productivity.  We are constantly striving for new ways to implement these technologies and being a part of this is extremely rewarding.”

FINANCE IN AGRICULTURE

We employ management accountants, finance officers and payroll administrators who apply their skills to manage the overall finances of the business, with the added benefit of a working environment surrounded by beautiful, rural views!

Catherine Roland, Dyson Farming’s Financial Controller:

“I oversee the day-to-day operation of the finance department. Working in agriculture is very different from any industry I have worked in before! No two days are the same. There is always so much going on and the decision-making process is fast, especially with the weather being a huge factor in our activities.”

RENEWABLE ENERGY 

Renewable energy production is not only an increasingly important part of our business, it also represents a huge opportunity to do more with the resources available to us. 

Dyson Farming’s Assistant Anaerobic Digester Plant Manager, Barry Buntin:

“I joined Dyson Farming in 2018 as an Anaerobic Digester operator at Carrington.  I was made Carrington AD supervisor in 2020 before being offered my current role in 2021. This progression has enabled me to gain in-depth knowledge of how the sites operate.

“Dyson Farming has invested in my growth by providing me with courses and training, ensuring I am well equipped to deal with my roles.”

A FAIR WAGE FOR A DAY’S WORK                

Investing in people is important, whether in skills development or career progression. We are also proud to be an accredited Living Wage Employer, joining over 8,000 other employers around the UK who voluntarily commit to paying above the minimum wage.  We believe everyone should get a good day’s pay for a hard day’s work.

Danniella Tomlinson, explains:

“The Dyson Farming team puts a lot of time and effort into their work. We invest heavily in our employees because they are our future and as the company grows, we want them to be part of the journey.”

HOW TO GET INVOLVED IN A CAREER AT DYSON FARMING

This article provides only a snapshot of the roles at Dyson Farming. There are many more that contribute to the success of the business.  If you are interested in a job with us, have a look at the exciting opportunities we currently have available here.

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Precision spraying technology: efficient, sustainable farming

Precision spraying technology: efficient, sustainable farming

Dyson Farming is the first company in the UK to use this technology commercially, and we will continue to advance and refine its capabilities.”

Sustainable food production and food security are vital to the nation’s health and economy. Efficient, high-technology agriculture has a vital role to play in producing quality food that is both nutritious and environmentally sound.

One of the latest pieces of equipment being introduced is precision spraying technology. Here at Dyson Farming, we have been working in conjunction with the technology company, Bilberry, to develop a camera system to identify and spray crop protection products only on targeted weeds, thereby reducing the amount used on our crops.

Traditionally, crop protection products such as herbicides are applied using a sprayer, an essential piece of farming equipment used to control weeds.  Weeds are a major issue as they create competition for the main crop, affecting its growth and yield potential. The fewer weeds there are, the less competition there is for the main crop, helping it to grow and protecting the health of individual plants. Reducing weeds also minimises the chance of contamination from unwanted weed seeds when the crop is harvested.

The new intelligent spot spraying camera technology means we no longer need to spray across entire fields; herbicides are only applied when weeds are identified.

How does it work?

A specialist camera network, made up of 12 cameras, is installed along the boom (arm) of the sprayer, which uses Red, Green and Blue (RGB) technology to detect and recognise weed species within crops. This technology can be retrofitted to any type or size of sprayer, making it flexible and compatible with many different machines.

As the sprayer operates in the field, algorithms within the onboard computer interpret the images collected by the cameras. As the computer identifies and detects a weed, it selectively turns the 144 nozzles, spread along the boom, on and off so it can apply the herbicide to the precise location, within 25 cm.

There are two different forms of this spot spraying camera technology: ‘Green on brown’, which is used post-harvest to pre-drilling, where it picks up green weeds on a brown surface. There is also ‘green-on-green’, the ability to spot spray herbicide on weeds in a growing crop. The green-on-green algorithms are currently used in wheat crops across the Dyson Farming Lincolnshire estate.

Dyson Farming is the first company in the UK to use this technology commercially and at scale and we will continue to advance and refine its capabilities. Work is being undertaken in conjunction with Bilberry to extend the weed detecting algorithms into other crops such as oilseed rape, maize, vining peas, potatoes, and sugar beet. Richard Lee, Dyson Farming’s Sprayer Operator, has the responsibility of operating the equipment that automatically captures images of a crop as it moves through the fields. These pictures are then sent to Bilberry, who use them to build, train and improve their algorithms to identify and detect target weeds.

Why are we using this technology at Dyson Farming?

This technology was introduced to Dyson Farming in 2020 to reduce the application of herbicides across our farms. As Richard Lee explains:

“Implementing this technology was seen by the team as being pivotal in increasing efficiency, productivity and protecting the environment. It allows us to selectively apply herbicides where they are needed and move away from a blanket spraying approach. We are seeing reductions of up to 70%-90% of herbicide applications when using this technology.”

What does this mean for the future of farming?

In a world where increasing importance is being placed on protecting and nurturing our natural resources, this technology will allow us to be more targeted with our crop protection products. As Ed Ford, Dyson Farming’s Technical Agronomist, who is leading the work in this area explains:

“This technology not only helps reduce input costs but importantly helps with protecting the environment.  Looking forward it could also be used to gather information on other aspects of arable farming such as plant establishment and population data, tracking plants during different growth phases throughout the season which will give farm managers and agronomists actionable information that can be seen in real-time.”

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Dyson Farming Holiday Cottages: From redundant farm buildings to luxury, award-winning holiday retreats

Dyson Farming Holiday Cottages: From redundant farm buildings to luxury, award-winning holiday retreats

Sensitive redevelopment of redundant farm buildings is a key part of the approach to property management at Dyson Farming, ensuring the working history of the estate is preserved. It complements our overall farming ethos to create a long-term model that will leave a positive legacy now and in 100 years’ time. 

How it all started

The Dyson Farming holiday cottages’ journey began in 2018 when it was proposed that the derelict farm buildings on our farmland could be redeveloped to be given a new life and purpose. Work then started on transforming these buildings into modern, luxury holiday cottages, in a way that maintained and protected their heritage.

We now have 12 self-catering holiday cottages of varying sizes (sleeping 2 to 12 people) available across Lincolnshire, Berkshire and Gloucestershire which can be viewed here. They boast impressive 360-degree views of picturesque farmland, woodland and conservation areas and include a range of luxurious touches such as Dyson Technology products, hot tubs, pizza ovens and electric car charging points. However, it is the stunning, tranquil locations of our properties that make them special.

Dyson Farming’s Lincolnshire Property Manager, Lee Birch, mentions:

“Our holiday cottages have been designed to align with the quality and reputation expected of the Dyson Farming brand, using in-house skilled craftsmen and women to deliver the renovation of redundant farm buildings. Their situation is special, providing access to the countryside which would otherwise be unseen.”

Recent additions

The number of holiday cottages available continues to grow. For example, The Partridge is the latest self-catering cottage in Berkshire. Situated near Newbury, The Partridge is the largest holiday cottage with 6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms and accommodating up to 12 people. The Partridge was designed to ensure that larger groups of guests can enjoy their time together whilst still having the space to relax and enjoy their stay in peace.

At the other end of the scale, the Lincolnshire team are nearing completion on The Dovecote holiday cottage, located south of the Lincolnshire Wolds. This is a unique 2-person cottage with 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom, created from a structure originally intended to house doves, which will be available to book from December 2021.

The Lincolnshire team have several more planning consents for holiday cottages. Make sure to follow our social media platforms to stay up to date with the latest developments for all our holiday cottage projects.

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The future – more than just a nice place to stay

Our holiday cottages have already received several nationally recognised awards, including two Gold Standard Awards and an English Country Cottages award for the high quality of our service, cleanliness, and facilities. Up to the present day, we are very pleased to have an average 9.1 rating across all our holiday cottages.

On top of this, we also encourage people to explore the countryside and to take an active interest in farming and the environment that surrounds the cottages. This helps to improve the awareness and understanding of Dyson Farming’s innovative approach to farming and food production for the people staying.

Dyson Farming’s South-West Estate Surveyor, James Dawson:

“There is certainly an appetite for more holiday cottages. I think we could look at different buildings and areas for holiday cottages on the farms. Getting people onto farms is important to us, and I think offering education on rural matters and allowing people to come stay and see what we do is an exciting opportunity.

Looking forward, we also want to maximise the leisure opportunities for guests across our farms in Gloucestershire and Berkshire such as suggested walks and cycle routes to enhance their experience when they are here. Guests are also encouraged to try our quality farmed produce like Beef & Lamb and strawberries when relaxing in the cottages. The Lincolnshire team have made a great start on this, offering guided tours and simulated game shooting experiences to guests.”

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Peas: Good To Eat, Good For The Soil

Peas: Good To Eat, Good For The Soil

Our 2021 pea harvest campaign is now complete. The 18-strong team has worked around the clock for 58 days from June through to August to collect over nine thousand tonnes of quality peas, providing nutrition not just for consumers but also for the valuable soils across Dyson Farming’s land.

The importance of peas

Their high nutrient content, sweet taste, crunchy texture, and minimal preparation time makes peas the ideal ingredient or accompaniment for many meals.

Peas also play an important role in how we farm and look after the environment, particularly soils.  As they grow, peas capture nitrogen from the air which they use to flourish through the whole growing season. They also ‘fix’ a proportion of this nitrogen into the soil, making them great to grow and rotate across our farms, keeping the soils healthy and contributing towards Dyson Farming’s sustainable farming system.

Rotating crops around different fields is important. Planting the same crop in the same place year after year drains nutrients from the soil that future crops need to thrive. This is why we won’t grow our peas on the same land for 8-10 years in order to preserve optimum soil health.

Planning and technology

Growing a high-quality pea crop requires meticulous planning.  Before planting the seeds, individual fields are mapped using technology such as satellite imagery and electric conductivity scanning to assess soil structure. This allows us to vary the number of seeds we plant in different places to optimise crop performance, meaning we can plant more seeds into the poorer areas of soil and fewer seeds into the better areas, resulting in a more even crop from edge to edge.

When the crop reaches maturity, there is a window of approximately 48 hours during which the peas will be at their optimum quality.  We know when the peas are ripe for harvest by using a ‘tenderometer’ which tests the growing peas in each field and informs us when the peas are at their best.  If the planning is right, we can harvest peas at the right time and in the right field to achieve a consistent supply of high-quality peas.

Harvesting

The peas are harvested using a bespoke pea viner, which removes the pea pods from the plant and then open the pods to collect the individual peas. These freshly harvested peas are transported to the factory where they are washed, blanched and frozen within 150 minutes, to lock in the freshness and nutrients of each pea.

Dyson Farming’s 2021 pea harvest has been a good one. The weather has been kind, allowing us to keep to the planned harvest schedule. Peas need temperatures that are cool, but not too cold, to thrive.

But the good weather has also meant there was no rest for the harvest team, from the day harvest started all the way through to the last pea being delivered for freezing. However, the team has risen to the challenge and produced a fantastic crop of peas.

Dyson Farming Assistant Farm Manager, Rhys Jones reflects on the season:

“Credit goes to the team, who have worked so hard in what has felt like a long season, just because we have not stopped. We are also grateful for the support of the local haulage companies, who have helped move the crop from the fields to the freezer factory with great efficiency.”

What is next for our peas?

Once frozen and packed, our peas are sent directly to retailers and caterers like Baxter Storey and Caterlink for their chefs to use in restaurants, dining rooms and school canteens across the country. 

This year we are delighted that Dyson Farming’s peas will also be available in Marks and Spencer stores.  This required us to pass the Marks and Spencer quality control audit and put in place a system to deliver peas from field to the factory in 120-minutes, hence the name ‘speedy peas’. These peas will be identifiable in Marks and Spencer stores with Dyson Farming’s name on the packaging this autumn.

Preparing for the next season

With the completion of the 2021 harvest, the team are now concentrating on gathering data so they can begin planning for the next crop.

There is also the job of maintaining the machines. With the pea viners running continuously for 24 hours over 58 days during harvest, they are worked hard. The team wash them down before the winter overhaul, when they will be sent away to be stripped down and rebuilt.

Rhys Jones, on the future of Dyson Farming peas:

“Our focus is always to look after our soils and improve the quality of our crop. Innovations in technology and new pea varieties will be factored in when making plans for the 2022 crop. It’s important we get these plans right so we can enjoy another great season next year.”

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Dyson Farming’s strawberries: as the first crop ends, a new one begins…

Dyson Farming’s strawberries: as the first crop ends, a new one begins…

Dyson Farming’s strawberries: as the first crop ends, a new one begins...

The first harvest of Dyson Farming’s strawberry crop, grown in the 15-acre glasshouse in Carrington, is now complete. During the 5-month long harvest, we produced and sold 470 tonnes of strawberries (approximately 23 million berries!).

The meticulous care and attention to the crop by the team has enabled us to produce delicious strawberries which have been sold across the country. 

How it began

The strawberry glasshouse journey began in 2020, with the planning and construction of the 15-acre glasshouse. It has been an amazing journey since then, growing quality strawberries at scale, out of season, and in a sustainable way. 

The concept of sustainable strawberry production came about when we challenged ourselves to come up with the best way of using the excess heat that was being produced from our renewable energy operation. Rather than waste this heat, the glasshouse, which now sits adjacent to the anaerobic digester, captures and uses the heat to sustainably produce strawberries at a time of year when outside temperatures are too cold. You can find more information about how the glasshouse works here.

Dyson Farming Glasshouse Manager, Angel Angelov, reflects on the early days:

“Despite my many years of experience in this field, we had a bit of a challenging start. We needed to build a new team that was capable of learning to work together in a short space of time. Fortunately, the team very quickly settled into their roles and understood what the expectations were. Within the first two to three weeks of the picking season, we had formed hard-working, efficient teams in both the glasshouse and packhouse.”

It is all about the quality

We have been working closely with national retailers, local farm shops and restaurants to sell our strawberries. It is a testament to the team that the quality of the Malling Centenary variety was such that it achieved Marks and Spencer’s top tier approval, Red Diamond Label, and was clearly identifiable in stores with the Dyson Farming logo displayed on the packaging. 

What has made our first season particularly rewarding has been the positive feedback from those who have bought and tasted our strawberries.  We actively encourage people to take an interest in how we farm and with the strawberries, people have taken the time to contact us directly with their opinions, complimenting us on their taste, colour, shape and consistency. 

We take great pride in producing the best possible quality products and this positive feedback will continue to motivate the team going into the autumn season when our second crop of strawberries will be available. 

Moving on to the autumn crop

In preparation for the autumn crop, the hard work continues. Within 3 weeks the team will remove the old crop and thoroughly clean the glasshouse, all growing troughs and irrigation lines in preparation for planting 700,000 new strawberry plants for the autumn season.

The autumn season will also bring with it new challenges compared to the summer season as relatively warm nights and longer days in August will affect the eventual sugar levels in the strawberries. There is a lot of competition for the sugars produced by the plants, and if the growing conditions are not right, not enough sugars are built up in the final berries. 

To prevent this from happening and to ensure top quality is achieved, shading screens have been installed to help control the sunlight, extra CO2 is applied, and plant food recipes are carefully adjusted to feed the plants through the 60,000 metres of irrigation pipes. The team will be taking it very steady, using all their knowledge and expertise to ensure the plants are not put under any undue stress which could affect the quality and yield.

Following the success of the first crop, the second crop of Dyson Farming’s strawberries will be ripe and ready to eat by the end of September.

What about the future?

Angel Angelov explains:

“Whilst our focus remains on producing top-quality strawberries, we are also determined to keep looking to the future and continuing to innovate.  This might include expanding the glasshouse and packhouse facility, growing new fruit varieties, developing robotics for the glasshouse operation or installing growing LED lights to extend the season further over the winter period (December, January and February). We have got off to a good start and I am very excited about what the future has in store.”

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Bird Surveying across Dyson Farming land. Why is it so important?

Bird Surveying across Dyson Farming land. Why is it so important?

Bird Surveying

The importance of Birds

At Dyson Farming we have a team dedicated to protecting and enhancing the environment, who take great steps to monitor and improve our Natural Capital, which includes soil, ecosystems, air and water. The birds that benefit from a healthy farmed environment use Dyson Farming land for feeding and nesting and importantly, provide us with a good indication of the overall state of our natural capital. 

Monitoring their numbers provides us with important insight.  We conduct regular surveys, and the results provide us with data to assess landscape management activities, monitor success and to tailor future improvements.

 

Monitoring bird life

We have been conducting bird surveys for the last 3 years across Dyson Farming land in Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire and South Gloucestershire. Bird Surveys are carried out twice a year and take a few hours to carry out in each transect. The areas we survey are known as Transects, and surveyors walk from point A to point B along a defined path. They count the number of individual birds (of each species) that are either seen or heard within a specific distance from their path. The same approach is replicated every year to establish a trend.

Bird surveys are conducted from a list of 1km squares, chosen at random across key areas of Dyson Farming land. Locations are not chosen based on where we expect a high number of birds, as it is important for us to see the overall success and management of the habitat across the entirety of Dyson Farming’s land.

We are fortunate enough to have bird experts who are skilled enough in distinguishing a bird through the naked eye, binoculars and telescopes, or by listening for bird sounds. Understanding how to visually identify a species of bird takes great knowledge and experience, picking out the different colours, sizes and flight patterns of the bird. Similarly, distinguishing them through listening to the bird calls and songs takes a well-tuned ear.

Bird Surveying Technology

In addition to having expert knowledge and experience, surveyors utilise technological support. A handheld Trimble uses a Global Positioning System (GPS) to locate to the correct transect, which means the surveyor can record the information accurately for the survey.

They also use a Pear Geographic Information System (GIS) to extract the information collected from a survey.  This produces a map of Dyson Farming and displays the surveyed area, visually displaying where the surveyed species are on the landscape and how environmental management is undertaken in that area is benefitting numbers.

Evaluation of the recently conducted Bird Surveys

The results of our most recent bird survey have just been assessed.  They showed that across Dyson Farming land, different landscapes benefitted different species. For example, on Nocton Fen, there were a notable number of Yellow Hammer species, whereas in Oxfordshire, the Corn bunting species were thriving.

Of particular importance are the ‘Red List’ bird species which are UK Birds of Conservation Concern and are the most vulnerable.  They include Grey Partridge, Lapwing, Curlew, Woodcock, Marsh Tit, Skylark, Starling, Song thrush, Mistle thrush, House sparrow, Tree sparrow, Yellow wagtail, Linnet and Yellowhammer. It is these species that are at the top of the list when it comes to encouraging their numbers on the farms and helping to reverse their decline nationally. 

Dyson Farming manage the habitat to enhance the species found within the landscape with the approach of ‘not one management regime fits all’. The following are a variety of different management strategies we conduct for red listed bird species:

  • Hedgerows are cut on a variable rotation from 1 to 3 years to provide a variety of nesting and foraging habitats for Tree Sparrows, Yellow Hammers.
  • Fallow plots, which is the process of working land in dedicated small plots for Curlew, Lapwing and Skylarks, for them to breed on or near by.
  • Managing woodland to promote the successful breeding of Woodcock, Song Thrush and Marsh Tit.
  • Managing the wider farmland with margins and wild bird cover for the benefit of Skylarks, Linnet, Lapwing, Grey Partridge, Starling.

As Ian Willoughby, Dyson Farming’s Environmental Coordinator, explains:

“We will continue with the same methodology for surveying birds that has already been established to allow us to compare data year on year. The surveys are a key part of environmental management and I believe it will provide important baseline data for when Environmental Land Management is introduced. It is also a very practical way to measure and demonstrate Dyson Farming’s environmental achievements, not only internally for operational staff but also externally to those who, like us, believe bird life is fundamental to a flourishing natural farming environment.”

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The story behind Dyson Farming’s South West Beef & Lamb production.

The story behind Dyson Farming’s South West Beef & Lamb production.

The story behind Dyson Farming's South West Beef & Lamb production.

We believe our meat is special, not only because it tastes great, but we also have an interesting story to tell. Our overall farming ethos is to create a long term, regenerative model that will leave a positive land legacy now and in 100 years’ time. Our farming practices have been designed to protect and improve animal wellbeing and to look after the environment.

The South West is where our livestock farming started and just over two years ago, we began working with Farleigh Road Farm Shop, a local farm shop near Hinton farm, selling them lamb and whole carcass beef. The partnership is still going strong, with beef & lamb going there every week, and importantly, clearly labelled as Dyson Farming so that people can be reassured that it is indeed our beef & lamb.

We have learnt a lot in this time and gradually we have expanded our customer list into a variety of different butchers, restaurants, pubs and hotels. On top of this, individuals can purchase beef & lamb directly through our website.

We also supply beef & lamb to Dyson’s Malmesbury Head Office every fortnight, and this collaboration has allowed us to develop a close relationship with Dyson’s Executive Chef, Joe Croan, who uses our beef & lamb to feed over 4000+ Dyson employees at three separate catering locations. The feedback we get from Joe is invaluable and his experience as a top chef helps us understand what he requires in terms of meat quality and consistency.

Award-winning quality

It is important that our beef & lamb quality is tried and tested. To do this, we entered the Taste of The West competition last year to get some feedback from independent food experts about the quality of our meat. This included the tenderness, taste, visual appearance and packaging of the cuts. We were delighted that our topside joints, ribeye and sirloin steaks achieved GOLD awards, with the topside joint selected as the highest placed beef product in the 2020 competition.

Innovating in Beef & Lamb quality

Part of the Dyson Farming ethos is to keep on innovating.  We use technology to generate a digital footprint for every animal, tracing its parentage and place of birth and allowing us to track all movements as well as its health and wellbeing.

We have also been working closely with the team at the GoodBeef Index to grade our cattle, allowing us to monitor cattle as they grow.  They have developed a scanning process which provides us with a measure of future eating quality, nutritional value, and environmental credentials. This helps us develop diets and handling systems to produce the best quality and environmentally sustainable beef.  This type of meat grading is similar to those used in places like the US, Australia and Japan. It is a relatively new innovation and is only used by a handful of farmers in the UK but could become more widely used in the future.

As Peter Lord, Dyson Farming’s South West Farm Manager, explains:

“The GoodBeef Index is hugely helpful for both us and our customers; we receive a quality score which endorses our product, and our customers understand the different grades of meat under this system. This transparency allows both parties to set a fair price and being able to rely upon a certain quality goes a long way to ensuring consistency of quality. For consumers, it gives confidence that the meat they are purchasing is great quality with genuine provenance.”

Sustainable Beef & Lamb production

Livestock production is an important part of our circular farming system, utilising land that is more suited to grazing. Dyson Farming holds one of the largest single countryside stewardship agreements in the country, protecting sensitive farmland and providing food for bees and other invertebrates that pollinate our crops and livestock have an important role to play in this.

Our beef cattle are cared for on our farms to high animal welfare standards, and when appropriate, housed in state-of-the-art open barn facilities. They eat a mixture of dedicated forage crops and cereals such as wheat and barley that grow on our farms. 

Sheep were introduced to our farms to help better utilise permanent pastures and to add valuable nutrients back to arable land while grazing cover crops over winter. Again, every animal can be traced to its mother and place of birth and are well suited to the climate on our farmland.

What about the future? 

As Peter explains:

“We have learnt a lot about livestock production since we started, and I am excited about the future. For a start, there is the scope to be much more vocal about the things that we are already doing. People are becoming more interested in where their food comes from and how it is produced. 

The beef & lamb we produce is appreciated by our customers and we take pride in our sustainability credentials. The opportunity is to keep on innovating and explaining to people what we do and why we do it, so they are reassured that they are getting a quality product.”

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Water: Dyson Farming’s Approach To Protecting This Critical Natural Resource

Water: Dyson Farming’s Approach To Protecting This Critical Natural Resource

Water: Dyson Farming's Approach To Protecting This Critical Resource

The importance of water

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water”.  As WH Auden wrote, water is critical to life. 

Here at Dyson Farming, water is an important part of our natural resources.  It sits alongside soil, air, and biodiversity on the farms, all of which contribute to our natural capital account, produced annually, to ensure that how we farm protects and enhances our farming environment.

The quality and availability of water that flows through our farms affect our ability to grow crops, raise livestock and nurture other plants and wildlife.  It also impacts the quality of drinking water that eventually flows through the taps into households.  How we monitor and manage water is therefore essential. 

Managing and monitoring water quality

At the heart of our approach is analysing water quality before it enters and as it leaves via the watercourses that flow between our fields.  This gives us a better understanding of the impact farming practices have on water quality and on the surrounding environment.

We base our farming practices on Integrated Farm Management.  This combines modern technology and traditional methods to increase farm production whilst protecting vital resources such as water.  For example, ‘precision farming’ technology means we can apply plant protection products to specific plants as opposed to whole fields, dramatically reducing usage.  Similarly, water courses are surrounded by uncropped ‘buffer-strips’ of land and other field margins which protect water courses and provide a continuous corridor of habitat and forage for wildlife.

Recently, water analysis was undertaken on six watercourses across the Lincolnshire Estate at Nocton Fen, Dunston Beck, Cranwell, Stubton, Carrington and Edlington.  We worked with Anglian Water to agree a suite of indicators, which they typically use at their water treatment works to measure water quality.  Nitrate, phosphate, biological oxygen demand, suspended solids and plant protection products were assessed at the Anglian Water laboratories. Overall, we are pleased to report that the results showed that water quality across the estate is good.

Example of water sampling at Carrington:

Example of water samples collected and stored, ready for analysis. 

As Dr Tom Storr, Dyson Farming’s Research Agronomist explains: 

“The water leaving the fields contained nitrate levels below the drinking water limit and phosphate was either in the good or high standard category. Water was clear and had a low biological oxygen demand too.”

“We plan to continue our partnership with Anglian Water, measuring the water quality on an annual basis during the winter period when the drainage from the fields is high.  By monitoring our water resources, we can be confident that everything is being done to protect and enhance the water quality on our farms, which will benefit the environment, wildlife and the produce we grow for our customers.”

Head Office

The Estate Office,
Cyclone Way, Nocton,
Lincoln LN4 2GR

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