Discover our latest video showcasing CTF and potatoes from soil preparation to storage

We’ve launched our latest video showcasing controlled traffic farming (CTF) with potatoes with the first 8 row planting potato planting system in the UK featuring:

  • 6m Standen Powavator
  • 8 row combination planter
  • 6m Kuhn power harrow and planter combination
  • Grimme 8 row potato planter
  • CAT Challenger MT865C
  • Horsch PT 280 sprayer
  • Grimme 4 row Tectron 415 self propelled harvester
  • Grimme combi cleaner loader
  • Grimme fall breaker
  • Automated box fillers

 

Read more about P.X. potato farming with CTF

Interested to learn more about controlled traffic farming? James will be speaking at the Farming Scotland Conference

Join our Managing Director, James Peck, at this year’s Farming Scotland Conference on 13th February 2020. We have successfully used Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) in growing and harvesting his potato crop – believed to be a first in the UK.

P.X. Farms has been using CTF with a range of crops, including combinable crops and sugar beet since 2010 across five counties with varying soil types and has reduced soil compaction from 86% to 13% in the process. In 2019 he applied CTF to farming potatoes for their first time and states great success in improving efficiency and yield.

We are a multi-faceted agribusiness, farming more than 10,000 acres of combinable crops, potatoes and sugar beet on owned land, farm business tenancy, contract or vegetable license basis. Our Founder and Managing Director James Peck believes passionately in farming scale and driving forward innovation in the industry. He has built the business to provide field to mill services that can adapt, innovate and overcome farming challenges.

Working closely with specialist machinery manufacturers to modify kit for CTF, we have been able to devise a system which improves soil health and reduces compaction. With potatoes, the reduction in soil compaction is expected to be up to 50%, providing lasting soil structure benefits. Efficiencies have also been achieved by reducing cultivations, improving the yield and ultimately enhancing the profitability of the enterprise.

Commenting on the innovation, James says: 

“Our business ethos is to drive innovation and efficiency into farming practices so that the sector is fit for the future. We’ve invested heavily in state-of-the-art technology to help create new opportunities, as well as greater efficiencies and yields.”

He adds:

“We are delighted with the results from our first season using CTF with potatoes. It allows for a greater diversity of crops in the existing broad rotation, which in turn provides the opportunity for a better return back to landowners.”

James will be speaking at the forthcoming Farming Scotland Conference where he will showcase his innovation to delegates from throughout the Scottish farming sector. For more information about the conference and to register, click here.

Follow the conversation – @Pxfarms @FarmScotConf #FarmScot20 #ControlledTrafficFarming #CTF

 

Using Controlled Traffic Farming with potatoes to reduce compaction and improve soil health

Continuing to pioneer innovation, we’ve applied controlled traffic farming (CTF) to our first time growing potatoes in 2019. Since 2010 we’ve been using CTF instead of large scale random traffic across a broad range of crops including sugar beet, and have successfully reduced compaction from 86% to 13% with a 12m system. With sugar beet and potatoes, we usually see about 140% compaction, which we aim to reduce by 50%.

Our Managing Director James Peck has worked extensively over the years with machinery manufacturers to modify kit for CTF. Farming potatoes was no different and saw James teaming up with Grimme and Kuhn to modify the existing kit to work with CTF tramlines to facilitate growing potatoes. CTF improves soil health and reduces clod and soil compaction. This means that there is less need for extra cultivations.

We prepared the soil for potato planting with the 6.00m Horsch Terrano and 6.00m Standen Powavator. Planting was done with the eight-row Grimme GL860 Compacta planter which was sourced from The Netherlands which was used with the modified Kuhn power harrow. We use a 75cm row system instead of 90cm row system mostly found across the UK.

Check out our video of potato planting:

 

We use precise technology like real-time kinematic (RTK) and GPS for accurate application without overlap across our broad rotation of crops:

 

The first potato harvest took place with the Grimme Tectron 415 Harvester. Using a self-propelled harvester with running gear reduces compaction and prevents deep ruts.

The Grimme RH 24-60 Clean Loader provided an onsite cleaning operation reducing the need to trailer the potatoes too far. With dryer soils at the beginning of the potato harvest, we used pickers on the platform to remove any clods. Discover our team in action below:

 

Potatoes were sorted with the Grimme PowerCombi TOMRA Field Potato Sorter and loaded in the store with the SL816 Storeloader and direct to our haulage lorries with the lorry filling attachment.

Our diverse crop rotation allows us to rotate crops throughout the year by combining modern technology with traditional farming practices. Now introducing potatoes into this rotation, we plan to choose potato varieties well suited to the field types. Using Integrated Crop Management helps conserve wildlife havens, enrich biodiversity, improve pest control, soil health, crop quality and yield, and cash flow. We can also simplify labour management and farming efficiencies.

PX Farms, Cambridgeshire: Soil focus pays – feature in Profi

 

Using Controlled-Traffic Farming (CTF) to limit soil compaction has enabled Cambridgeshire-based PX Farms to grow a wider range of more profitable crops and boost yields by improving soil quality, says managing director James Peck. “In a difficult harvest you can really see the impact, because the combine and chaser bin are running in defined areas, and only those areas are affected by wheelings, as opposed to trailers running randomly around the field,” he comments. “As technology advances, the benefits can only increase, as we will also be able to define the arc for the combine’s headland turns. In addition, if we are looking to farm with robots in the future we will need to be able to control every aspect of their movement around the field.”

Read more as a Profi subscriber

It’s all about the P.X. Family – James Peck

Without the P.X team, we wouldn’t be where we are today – our 38 strong workforce are the core of our business.

We provide high quality accommodation to our team and plan working shifts in advance so we are able to give our families real quality of life working in an agricultural environment. This results in staff retention and stability. 

Investment in training is vital to us. In addition to our current staff training programme, last year we started the P.X. Farms Graduate Programme, which employs one new young person every two years, and puts them through a range of farm experiences – including combining in Australia.

We also organise regular educational trips and speakers’ meetings for all farm staff to encourage continuous learning. Most recently a group of staff, including the current P.X. Farms Graduate Jamie Willoughby, went on a learning trip to SIMA in France.

We’re always investing in ways to keep our team and those working around them safe, and looking after our team’s health and well being. Recent examples include the new CCTV system on our latest lorries to ensure drivers are more aware of their environment and who is around them, and the purchase of an onsite cherry picker to reduce the need for our team to go up and down ladders.

But it’s not just our employees we feel are part of the P.X. Family, it’s the partners we team up with – our machinery suppliers, trades people like plumbers,builders, electricians, those with specialist expertise and our clients. Together we build the foundation to expand and the opportunity to provide value.

 

The threat to farming’s future

Never before has farming faced so many challenges: the pressure to feed a burgeoning population, climate issues, the growth of veganism and increasingly urban populations, price pressures, Brexit and so much more. Farming in today’s environment is undeniably a challenge, and sadly I fear any farmers not adapting to the changing environment may pay the ultimate price.

As a businessman, as well as a farmer, my response to this is how can we ameliorate this risk? How can we draw on the experiences of other industries to help us overcome the challenges?

The role of us all is to look after each other. Employers, staff, neighbours, people in the industry -we all face difficult times especially with mental health and health and well being. It’s important we consider those around us and how we can help support each other. The Worshipful Company of Farmers’ recent ‘Health & Wellbeing Research Report’ published in April 2019 highlights the challenges around mental health, long working hours and rural isolation. It makes recommendations to support each other through support groups and evidence-based learning, encourage collaboration and introduce a nationwide programme like FarmStrong in New Zealand.

The future of farming is two fold for me: it’s supporting and working together through the challenging times and celebrating the good times; and about combining scale for efficiencies of economies and specialism to build value. Supporting each other, blending the latest research with practical agricultural knowledge, and implementing best practice farming techniques all help underpin a strong industry foundation to create premiums, increase yield, reduce inputs and protect our countryside that we can all benefit from.

I’ve travelled extensively over the years to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the US, China, Canada and India to see first hand the application of innovative farming techniques which we’ve been able to adopt and develop to the benefit of our customers and our own farms.

That experience, in particular, was the motivation for me to drive P.X. Farms to be a leading innovator in arable farming here in the UK. And to be a business that can credibly and capably support others to give farming a future.

A key driver for me is to ensure we make money for our customers and remain profitable for future stability. Though innovating can be costly and you might fail, it’s what you do next and how you adapt that is crucial.
We’re a professional and highly skilled agribusiness dedicated to ensuring profitability for both our clients and our family farm, whilst working in harmony with the countryside.

Major investment in safety and service for high-spec fleet

Over the years we’ve made significant investment in telematics for our haulage fleet to improve safety and service. This gives everyone peace of mind during the haulage process. In 2019 we’ve installed cameras on our newest lorries for an all round view to improve visibility and safety of the surrounding environment. These cameras record in real time and transit wirelessly back to the office. The footage also helps us to identify areas where we need to support our drivers with training.

Back in 2010 we introduced innovative telemetric software that monitors the exact location of our lorries 24 hours a day. We’ve been successfully using this for nine years now and it is a valued part of our haulage service. It gives the exact locations of our lorries 24 hours a day, ensuring that constant communication is maintained between the office and customers, and routes are planned effectively.

Our 12-strong fleet of high specification 44-tonne lorries driven by trained, dedicated drivers. The fleet hauls grain, sugar beet, fertilisers and other agricultural products across the UK for a wide range of farming clients, with drivers trained to use fork-lift equipment.

P.X. Transport Planner Nick Durkan said: “What makes P.X. Farms haulage unique is the investment the company makes in both staff training and state-of-the-art equipment, like our onsite lorry washing facility, which is used by our uniformed drivers daily. Our team pride themselves on offering a top quality service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and keeping in regular contact with customers to ensure utmost efficiency”.

 

Check out our latest testimonial from Harlow Agricultural Merchants:

Harlow Agricultural Merchants have used P.X. Transport to move grain for the last five years. The service Nick provides is of the highest quality, at fair rates. We know we can send him work and not hear anything until the weighbridge tickets are returned to us, which saves everyone time, and naturally, money. I would have no hesitation in recommending P.X. as a top-class haulier.