TRELONK FARM – BY ROBERT AYRES

My first ten weeks on Trelonk farm have been both a challenge and a joy. Having moved down from Derbyshire just before Christmas I find a unique mix between horticulture and agriculture that I have not been able to find anywhere else. A bridge between two disciplines that are often looked at in different lights.

There has been a lot of thought and planning going into this season, with a selection of new crops and ways of growing them to start producing essential oil crops, while also taking what experience we have had from the previous two seasons to focus on our carrier oils and narrow down what crops will be both productive and profitable in the main fields. To this end we are reducing the area of Sunflower crops and increasing our cropping area of hemp from 8 hectares to 18 hectares. The hemp licence has been resubmitted to the Home Office, so we now have a licence to grow hemp for oil rather than fibre. This is a very exciting period and a crop that I have been eager to grow for a long time. Our hemp variety will be Finola which has a good oil content while not growing very tall so should be able to withstand the high winds that we have here. The agronomics of such a crop are limited compared to the normal arable crops, so I aim to look at using different nutrient plans over the three fields we are growing it in to see what fits best to this estate. The potential this crop has is phenomenal and I look forward to seeing how it progresses through the season.

With the dawn of essential oil crops on site such as Lavender, Rosemary and Lemon Balm, I have had to start mechanising the estate to be able to cultivate and bed form ready for these plants coming in May. Now Trelonk has its first tractor on site which is already hard at work lifting and replanting our stock of roses. This is an essential piece of equipment that will be working hard all season and for many seasons to come.

On a gusty day in February, I braved the elements with our agronomist to dig some holes in our fields to see what our soil health is like, and I am pleased to say that we are healthy, with no compaction and a good worm count. I am just waiting for soil sample results to come back from the lab so know I exactly what nutrient and pH we are starting with so a nutrient plan can be put together for this year. Field work has already starting, with the winter crops being sprayed off in preparation for cultivating the fields. The main aim is to be drilling our seed four weeks earlier than last year to bring harvest dates forward so the weather does not hold us up at this important time. With starting the season earlier, we also have our bees on site earlier as well, with the first four hives already in field and more to come soon.

This is a very exciting time on the farm as we start to see plans coming into action, and I hope for a productive season and plans coming to fruition. Time will tell, and I look forward to updating you with news as the season progresses.

Trees planting Feb 2021
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