Ben Boundy (L) and Tom Trapnell (R)

Dairy farmers hope Nutrient Management Plan enables herd expansion

A farming partnership which converted from beef to dairy 12 months ago, hopes our Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) will allow them to expand their herd by growing more forage while reducing bought-in inputs.

Ben Boundy, of Thorne Farm near Holsworthy in Devon, farms in partnership with Herd Manager Frazer Martyn. They plan to increase their milking herd from 250 cows to 350 by growing more, better quality forage.

They recently had soil samples taken from all 40 grazing fields using our NMP service. They hope the results will provide them with the data needed to target inputs and maximise cropping yields, while meeting environmental and regulatory challenges.

Our Nutrient Management Plan helps farmers by:

  • Assessing current soil nutrition using soil sample
  • Looking at the nutrient requirements of different crops required to grow targeted yields.
  • Calculating the nutrients available on the farm from slurry and farmyard manure (FYM).
  • Assessing emissions using the fertiliser GHG Emission

Over the coming months Mr Trapnell will use the NMP and work with the team at Thorne Farm to plan the farm’s forage requirements and help them maximise their crop yields whilst reducing costs.

“If you don’t know the nutrients in your soils, how do you know how much to feed the crop,” said Mr Trapnell.

Using an NMP

He added: “This isn’t a bit of paper to sit on the shelf. This is an interactive tool where inputs and cropping can easily be amended according to the changing requirements of the livestock diet. The service from the Mole Valley Farmers’ team means we are here to support farmers through the journey and produce better forage profitably.”

Alongside the NMP, technology will also help Mr Boundy and Mr Martyn target nutrients where they are required. Mr Boundy said: “We have switched contractors and now work closely with A J Heywood and sons whose John Deere Harvest Lab has allowed us to monitor crop removal.

“They also have manure sensing equipment on the slurry tanker and umbilical, allowing us to see the nutrient breakdown of NPK in the slurry we are applying. This will become more important when we have the results from the NMP.

“The plan is to use all the information from the NMP and that gathered by our contractors to get a whole farm picture of where the requirements are needed.

“With the price of fertiliser, the cost of applying slurry and the Environment Agency requirements for soil sampling - and the pressure that will come in the next few years on nutrient mapping - it is sensible to start this ASAP.”

When the soil results are back, Mr Trapnell will use the NMP to provide targeted advice on the use of fertiliser, slurry and FYM, as well as any soil amendments required.

Mole Valley Farmers’ NMP:

  • Ticks all the boxes for
  • Provides a focussed
  • Maximises nutrient levels and
  • Targets nutrients only where they are needed and specifically for the crop needs.
  • Avoids the use of wasted nutrients, saving
  • Measures the emissions from fertilisers and helps reduce the farm’s carbon footprint.
  • Minimises risk to the

Cost of a NMP

Our NMP starts at £250 for the first 250 acres. With costs rising, it makes economic sense to value what you have, said Lisa Hambly, Head of Grassland and Soil Agronomy at Mole Valley Farmers.

“This programme will allow farmers to target the money where it’s needed. Nutrient Management Plan features in the Sustainable Farming Incentive Standards under ELMS. Our nutrient management information can help secure subsidies and evidence compliance with environmental regulations and standards,” she said.

“As well as being compliant with the ELMS Schemes such as the Sustainable Farm Incentive (SFI), and for farm inspections, considerable value comes in planning the crop and seeing what the return on investment is for buying fertiliser, or perhaps renting land.

“It’s for your soil health, cows and cropping.”

The Nutrient Management Plan is web-based and is run by FACTS qualified experts who specialise in grassland and forage crops, making it a bespoke service for livestock farmers.