A man stands in a field of sunflowers in the sunshine

Papley Grove Farm

Using satellites to improve soil quality

Diversification is key for Papley Grove. Using GPS to identify where best to farm has grown the business by 30%.

Farming has long been at the forefront of innovation, whether it’s using new machinery to plant, cultivate and harvest faster, creating new crops capable of producing greater yields, or deploying the latest technology to identify where best to farm.

Crop rotation and flourishing wildlife

At Papley Grove Farm, Martin is always looking for ways in which he can use new solutions to improve his land’s productivity. “Our aim is to have a prosperous, profitable farm that has a positive effect on the landscape,” he says. “That means being conscious of the impact the work we do has on the local wildlife.” Martin uses GPS technology to work out which parts of his land are best to use. When he identifies poorer soil quality, he takes that area out of crop rotation, returning it to wildlife. As the average crop yield improves over time, he can then get a higher return from the whole field. “We trialled it in 2014, and have since rolled it out across the entire farm.” But the investment in GPS isn’t just for his own land. “Because we’ve seen positive results, we’ve been able to get other farms interested, which means we can hire the service out to them and create a new source of income.”

Exploring new ventures

Connecting and collaborating with other farmers has also led to working with a national group involved in political lobbying and other activity, with and on behalf of nature-friendly farmers. “Our farms and revenues might be different, but we all face the same challenges – the weather, machinery breakdowns and just the general everyday unpredictability. Plus, it’s a good way of seeing what’s working for other people and thinking about how we might be able to use it.”

Martin’s use of technology goes beyond GPS. Since taking over the farm from his father, who sadly passed away in 2018, he has started investing in more modern machinery, including a seed drill with remote data transfer he can control from his office. Future plans include exploring more public-facing amenities, such as farm-shops, campsites and even learning centres to educate people on farming and the role it plays.

For Martin, having an open mind has meant he’s been able to explore new ventures and see the benefits of diversification. His advice to those considering new ways to improve their business is to speak to others that have done it.

“If you’ve got an idea, talk to other people in a similar situation. If you can, see it in person, and get to know the market you’re trying to be part of.”

If you're looking to diversify your farming business, contact one of our Agricultural Area Managers today to see how we can help.

Five ways to diversify your farm

1. Know your market

2. Build on your strengths

3. Invest in new skills

4. Collaborate with others

5. Be prepared to change as needed