Meet the NFU Combinable Crops Board

16 November 2023

Three combines harvesting crops in a field

The NFU Combinable Crops Board meets regularly and supports members throughout the sector and sets the path for future sustainable growth. 

Matt Culley

NFU Combinable Crops Board chair

Matt farms in partnership with his brother in Hampshire, currently managing 650 hectares of owned and contract farmed chalk loam, clay cap and gravel soils, supporting wheat, barley and oilseed rape over the four coarse rotation.

Wheat is grown for the feed market, with a small area grown for seed. Winter barley is feed and spring barley is for malting. The farming partnership also runs a grain storage business with drying facilities and a soft fruit enterprise.

James Cox

NFU Combinable Crops Board vice chair and NFU South West Crops Board chair

James farms 260 hectares of Cotswold Brash soils near Tetbury, Gloucestershire. The farm produces malting barley, milling and feed wheat, milling oats and oilseed rape.

The farm is currently managed under a HLS agreement having previously been in the Cotswold Hills ESA.

James is also a member of the Molson Coors Growers Group steering committee and the local NIABTAG technical committee. He represents the NFU Combinable Crops Board on the Red Tractor Crops & Sugar Beet Board.

Andrew Davies

NFU Combinable Crops Board member, NFU Cymru

Andrew farms over 300 acres at Redlands Farm outside Haverfordwest, on the Pembrokeshire Coast. He grows winter and spring barley, winter wheat and winter oilseed rape.

He also runs his own well respected agronomy and seed business, spanning the three local counties. In addition to his duties as chair of the Welsh Crops Board, Andrew is also a member of the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society Council and Estates Committee.

Jamie Burrows

NFU Combinable Crops Board member, East Anglia

Located just 20 miles from London’s Marble Arch and farming on the fringe of St Albans, Jamie is one half of Sandcross Farming LLP who farm c1000ha of cereals, mostly in the south of Hertfordshire.

The joint venture has a mix of owned, tenanted and contract farming agreements, growing milling and feed wheat, milling oats, feed and malting barley, peas, beans and, for the time being, oilseed rape. 

Due to the complex nature of the soils in South Herts, ranging from heavy clays to gravel, Jamie and his colleagues cover a wide range of cultivation and drilling methods. However, a happy medium of min-till normally takes place on 50% of the land farmed. All grain is sold through Openfield going to homes relatively locally, usually within 50 miles.

At home, the family farm has diversified, with an 80-horse livery and riding school, with all hay and straw produced in house.

Having been involved in the NFU locally since returning home from Harper Adams in 2005 Jamie has gradually become more and more involved at a regional level and now, as well as being Hertfordshire NFU County chair, he is also East Anglia Combinable Crops Board chair. He is also an ex-Cereals Development Programme participant, and keen to get others involved in these types of initiatives.  

Jamie is passionate about achieving the best for cereal and oilseed producers, and proud to represent the cereals interests of East Anglia members.

Olly Harrison

NFU Combinable Crops Board member, North West

Olly farms 950 acres on the urban fringe near to Liverpool. He farms a mixture of owned, tenanted and share farmed ground along with some contracting.

Cropping includes wheat feed, malting barley, oilseed rape and beans, all of which is direct drilled.

Olly also rents out office accommodation in converted barns that used to house cattle. Alongside the arable enterprise, he recycles tree waste into biomass and some composting.

Olly also represents the NFU Combinable Crops Board on the Red Tractor Crops & Sugar Beet Board.

Andrew Williamson

NFU Combinable Crops Board member, West Midlands

Andrew farms near Bridgnorth in south Shropshire, where he is the managing partner of the family farming partnership. He returned home to join the partnership in 1999 after completing an honours degree in chemistry at the University of Bristol and working on farms in Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

He farms 900 acres of combinable crops, wheat, oilseed rape, oats, barley and beans.

Alongside this, he lets out some permanent pasture for sheep grazing and all the land he manages is covered by a HLS scheme. The business uses precision farming techniques extensively and is beginning the journey into conservation agriculture.

Andrew is also involved in a joint venture machinery sharing agreement with a neighbouring farmer.

Peter Gadd

NFU Combinable Crops Board member, East Midlands

Peter is a third generation farmer of arable crops in the area of South Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands region.

Having achieved an OND in agriculture, Peter has subsequently farmed a mix of owned and rented land of varying soil types growing predominantly winter cereals and oilseeds, and spring beans. He has represented the cereals policy interests of Nottinghamshire growers through many facets of the industry, including the NFU since 1981 and a six-year spell on NFU Council.

Focus has been on achieving high yields with attention to detail, operating as a sole trader with the assistance of contractors for specific tasks as required. Peter has had a grower representation role on AHDB’s Cereal and Oilseeds Research & KE Board for six years while overseeing significant levy investment for growers. Special areas of interest are IPM and PPPs.

Additionally, Peter has seats on the PGRO RL Pulse Committee and also on the AHDB RL Wheat Committee. Now chair of East Midlands Regional Combinable Crops Board, Peter currently has a role in the Red Tractor Technical Advisory Panel overseeing the standards review.

James Mills

NFU Combinable Crops Board member, North East and NFU North East Crops Board chair

James farms in a family partnership on a 200 hectare mixed farm.

Livestock are an important part of the rotation, grazing stubble turnips and cover crops. All cereals are produced with the focus on supplying local markets. A mixed wildlife offer represents an environmental diversification, alongside a recently developed wedding venue.

James Standen

NFU Combinable Crops Board appointee

James is the farms director for Newcastle University Farms, managing around 1200 acres of arable, two dairy herds and a 140 sow breeder finisher unit. The farms are commercial operations but have a strong research and teaching focus. 

James also farms in partnership with his wife on 300 acres in North Yorkshire, growing combinable crops and running a small flock of New Zealand Romneys. With a large ELS/HLS scheme, the farm is LEAF Marque accredited. 

James is a governor of Askham Bryan College and a director of its farming company as well as a council member of the Institute of Agricultural Management. Prior to moving to Yorkshire, James managed the Montreal Estate in Kent and has previously been a director of Southern Farmers and RAMSAK.  

Andrew Crossley

NFU Combinable Crops Board appointee

Andrew was brought up in Sheffield and graduated from Harper Adams in 1991, having gained an honours degree in agriculture.

On graduation he was employed by Booker Farming as a trainee manager with various placements in Yorkshire, Norfolk, Essex and Lincolnshire plus a tree nursery and head office function experience. The permanent roles for Booker then included assistant manager in Hampshire and Farm Manager in Essex. When CWS Agriculture purchased the company, the Essex role expended to 2500 hectares from Saffron Walden to Chelmsford as Farmcare Ltd Essex. This was an all combinable crop operation for Pension Fund owned land and a range of contract farming operations for local land owners.

In 2002, Andrew moved to Cambridge to manage the Trumpington Farm Company, a 2500 hectare combinable and root crop operation. This business was developed to include venue hire, extensive HLS, amenity work and renewables. His corporate farming experience has been a benefit when managing private agribusiness. In 2006, he gained a diploma in business management with the OU.

Nine years ago, he took up the role of Farms Director for Thurlow Estate Farms Limited on the Suffolk, Cambridge and Essex borders. The predominantly combinable crop operation required restructure. The business now operates as one having re-organised cropping, machinery, working practices and infrastructure. The operation is now in a strong place to adapt to the ever changing focus of agriculture and environment.

Alongside professional activities he has been NFU branch chair, IAgrM branch chair, local FWAG and NFU regional crops board chair. These roles have broadened his understanding of the politics that influence the industry and the issues it faces.

Will Oliver

NFU Combinable Crops Board appointee

Will farms over 2000 acres in Leicestershire/Warwickshire with his family. Growing winter wheat, winter beans and grain maize. The farm also has a modern poultry enterprise and glamping business.

Heather Oldfield

NFU Combinale Crops Board appointee

Heather farms with her husband in Lincolnshire. They run a mixed arable and beef enterprise, growing a range of cereal crops, legumes, oilseed rape, grass and partaking in an Environmental Stewardship agreement.

Wheat is predominantly grown for the feed market, spring barley for malting, OSR for Openfield, legumes for seed contracts, and grass for cattle; grazing and silage.

Heather splits her time between the family farm and Elsoms Seeds Business Development Department. Here she is tasked with looking at new potential markets, exploring developing ones and researching changing political, economic and industry ideas.

Heather previously developed and managed the Energy, Forage and Hybrid cereals portfolio for the business, following a successful career trading grain for local and national merchants.

Richard Heady

NFU Combinable Crops Board Co-optee and NFU Cereals Development Programme Chair

Richard Heady runs a mixed arable farm in North Buckinghamshire with his dad and uncle, with his focus being the arable side of the business. As single farm payments are phased out, he says that it has never been more important to improve the resilience of farm businesses and to look for new opportunities.

Tom Rees

NFU Combinable Crops Board co-optee

Tom is the sixth generation to farm at Dudwell, Camrose, near Haverfordwest. Currently the business is farming around 1200 acres, a mix of owned and rented ground. 

The business runs a diverse rotation consisting of winter sown wheat, OSR, barley and oats, and spring sown beans. The business has recently begun to grow potatoes in the rotation again after an absence of nearly 40 years.

The business also runs around 250 breeding ewes and has a biomass enterprise.

Peter Knight

NFU Combinable Crops Baord Appointee, South East

Peter runs Burgate Farms Limited, based south of Guildford in Surrey. Looking after 1200 ha of cereals and stewardship schemes, he grows winter and spring wheat, barley, beans, winter rye, OSR and fodder beet as a cash crop.

Having been at Burgate since leaving college in 1981, Peter fully took over the business in 2021.

His land is part tenanted, part contract farmed and part stubble to stubble contracted. Cultivations have been non inversion/min till for 15 years, recently moving towards direct drilling wherever possible.

There are a mix of variable soils, from weald clay, greensand to chalk. Being solely reliant on arable cropping, the aim is to be as efficient and lean as possible.

Peter is a past Surrey County chairman and currently Surrey NFU Council representative.

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