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Using technology in farming

Modernising for long-term success

Young farmer embraces technology to secure succession for the family farm business. Read how the Williams are using modern methods to get the most from their farm.

The challenge

The Williams are a sixth-generation farming family who have owned their farm in Covington, Cambridgeshire, since 1918. Collectively, they own 175 acres of arable land along with 2 farmhouses and rent 250 acres of grassland, which carries a herd of pedigree Hereford and cross-bred cattle. They carry out contracting work and straw baling, and also have a separate building business that undertakes local farm building and ground works.

The farm is managed by husband and wife, Simon and Julia Williams along with their 3 sons – Oliver, Ben and Rupert.

As part of their long-term business plan, the family wanted to increase the output of the farm and its assets to provide an increased income for their 3 sons. Eldest son Oliver always had a passion for livestock, gaining considerable experience on a neighbouring farm. Oliver began to research building a dairy farm in 2010 and, after several years of looking at different systems, decided to go down the precision farming route, with robotic milking machines and automated feeding.

The Barclays solution

Sheelagh Paraella, Agricultural Manager at Barclays, arranged a joint visit with Barclays National Agricultural Specialist Oliver McEntyre to go through the Williams’ finances and budgets, and take a look at the proposed system to find a way of supporting the innovative project, to help the family achieve their ambitions. Barclays’ specialist agricultural credit team, based in Cambridge, fully supported the application, which was successful.

The building work for the new dairy commenced in January 2014 and with one building already completed, groundworks have now started to install the robotic milkers. Heifers have been purchased and a contract is in place with a milk supplier.

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