Case Studies - George Neal, Nottinghamshire

Last updated: 10 Feb 2016

Name: Mr George Neale

Region: East Midlands

Farm: Hall Farm, Kneeton, Notts

Size 400 ha

Background

Hall Farm is a mainly arable farm near the River Trent, the Neale family have been there since before the 1920s when the farm was purchased from the Caernarvon family. Ancient mixed species hedgerows surround most of the fields.

The main cropping is wheat and oil seed rape with some sugar beet. Beef cattle are grazed each summer on the rig and furrow fields near the village.

The farm has a shoot.

The soil is mainly clayey loam soils.

What environmental management do you undertake on your farm?

We were in ELS but it expired earlier in the year. Most of our points came from very low input grass and we are continuing with the low input management now that the ELS has ended.

I have margins around all of my fields that are a minimum of 4m wide but I chose not to put them into ELS as I wanted to be flexible on how I manage them. I like to be able to run on them when needed and also to cut 3m next to the crop through the summer. This provides a dry area for the chicks to use. The area next to the hedge is left to provide shelter and nesting habitat for birds.

The margins not only provide an area for game and farmland birds but also act as a good no spray buffer protecting the hedges. Where the margin is against shading woodland I keep it wider as the land isn’t productive here and it provides more habitat for the birds and protection to the woods.

The woodlands have been increased in size over the years to take out poor land and enhance the value of the woods.

I like to have tall hedges, primarily for the shoot, but this means unless they are roadside ones they only get cut every other year. I don’t follow a strict rotation and some go 3 years without a cut but they are mostly over 2m high. Whilst we have inherited many old hedgerow boundaries we have added to this so that all fields are hedged now.

How will you meet your EFA target

We will use areas that have game cover on them (13ha) and a further 2 ha that is less productive and that we are considering planting with trees in the future.

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