Farm Innovation of the Year
Pollybell Farm, Founder of Earth Rover
Pollybell is a mixed organic farm of 5,000 acres with a range of enterprises across a sustainable rotation including grass/clover, fertility building leys, grazed with livestock (lamb and dairy), cereals (wheat, barley and beans) and vegetables (brassica, alliums & roots). Their key approach is to take the old fashioned holistic agronomic approach of mixed closed loop farming, and add a focus on environmental sustainability and 21st century technology.
The business has invested around £1m in renewables including wind turbines and solar panels, which, to date, have delivered a CO2 saving of planting over 20,000 trees. Pollybell has been the founder and investor of an agri-tech start up business Earth Rover, which has licensed technology for an autonomous farming vehicle and laser weeding product as well as a tractor-mounted accessible scouting system.
Pollybell is taking farming down to individual plant level by mapping to within 1cm of each plant and then measuring size, health etc. as each plant grows. Following on from the trials at Pollybell, the business is now looking at supplying the product to produce growers in Europe, Africa & US, as well as utilising the technology on their own farms, to increase productivity.
Prospect Farming, Mobile Milking Parlour
The Open Air Dairy is unique in its approach to UK dairy farming, as it is currently the only large scale dairy farm in Europe that is milking cows in the field as they graze, using mobile milking parlours. Founders Tom Foot and Neil Grigg met at the University of Plymouth’s Seale-Hayne Faculty and decided to go into business together before purchasing their first group of calves to build their future dairy herd. After many attempts to find a farm to milk their cows, Tom and Neil obtained the tenancy of Longlands Farm in Dorchester, where they launched the Open Air Dairy brand. As the herd grew from 460 in that first season to 750 three years later, it became apparent there was a desperate need for extra parlour capacity.
The main criteria Neil and Tom had was to be able to milk a large number of cows quickly and efficiently and it had to be easy to move. The concept began with very basic technology and minimal financial input. They now produce large scale mobile milking parlours on wheels, capable of milking 400 cows without the use of slurry pits and other generic infrastructure. They have branded and started selling the milking parlours in the last year and the concept is receiving a great amount of interest.