Across both our colleges we farm nearly 1,000 hectares of land over five farms based in two diverse locations; within the Vale of York and in Cumbria. Students studying at both colleges have access to all five farms enabling them to gain valuable work experience in different upland and lowland farming terrains and alternative farming systems in both high and low rainfall areas.
The College’s farms include a significant dairy, beef and sheep heard alongside a strong arable provision. The College has a robotic milking parlour facility at Westfield Farm on the main College campus in addition to a traditional parlour. Our farms are an integral part of the college; they are well equipped with a wide selection of machinery and facilities for both commercial and educational purposes.
Over the past years we have conducted a range of commercial trials these include:
Winter Wheat Variety Trial
The College has planted six different varieties of wheat 24m apart, allowing students to see the different characteristics of each variety in growth, vigour and disease resistances.
Dow Agri Sciences Trial
Dow have a commercial trial at the College, trying out different herbicide actives on broad leaf weeds in small plots. This enables students to learn weed identification, identify chemical active ingredients and targeted weeds.
In 2015 we conducted a fungicide trial at Headley Hall Farm where teams of students picked their own fungicide programme in a crop of Winter Wheat. This was a plot trial which was taken to harvest and was also conducted commercially with Bayer where the results were analysed and students could examine different diseases.
In the 2015/16 academic year there is a Barley Trial commencing in April with spring barley where different herbicide choices are made to look at different broad leaf weeds.
Agro Vista Trials
In Spring 2016 the College planted some companion crops with oil seed rape and some cover crops before direct drilling maize into it. These trials have been undertaken on behalf of Agro Vista.
Oil Seed Rape Seed Treatment Trial
This trial is in partnership with the Spanish firm Modesto, who are trying to develop a phosphate seed treatment, the seed will be drilled using a plot drill operating at different rates.
The College conducts a maize trial every year, where a selection of maize varieties are planted and harvested and results analysed commercially with Grain Seed Ltd and KWS.
The College operates a number of small scale farm trials in our Dairy Unit throughout the year. At Westfield Farm the College has both a robotic parlour and a conventional dairy parlour, this allows our students to experience these two forms of milking in addition to analysis of the output from each method. Currently the robotic milking group is yielding three litres per cow per day higher than the milking parlour stock are and they are averaging 2.8 milkings per day, whereas in our parlour we are only milking twice a day.