About Us - Today

 

G B Foot Ltd operates primarily as a modern arable farming business, growing Wheat, Barley, Oil Seed Rape, Potatoes and Industrial crops. We have a 10 million gallon water reservoir, plus another much smaller one and also an underground borehole for irrigation.

Diversification has us involved in Grain storage, cleaning & drying, we also produce agricultural lime (we hire lime spreaders on a tonnage basis or can secure the services of a local spreading contractor). We have also rented out all the buildings on one site to various tenants.

We employ seven full time staff, a part-time accounts lady and some harvest help. Our own workshops maintain and service our machinery and vehicles, carry out welding, fabricating and machining, make hydraulic hoses and carry out our own air conditioning repairs, tyre repairs,fitting and balancing.

We have been practicing minimum tillage for quite some time, using it as a means to get in crops where possible while falling back on conventional techniques when conditions or previous crops make min-till unpractical.

Our farm machinery line up includes- NH CR9080Elevation 30' combine, Bateman RB26, MF6499-Dyna6, Claas Challenger 55, MF 6480-Dyna6, Two NH TM155's, JCB 531-70 and JCB 527-58 loadalls, a Manitou 735-120 mani-reach, Vaderstad 6m RDA Rapid system disc drill, Kuhn semi-mounted 6/7F and 5F mounted ploughs, Kockerling 4m Quadro cultivator, Vaderstad carrier, Tim Howard maxi lift subsoiler, Quivogne pluton suboiler and 12.3 Dal-Bo rollers.

We run a Law-Denis continuous flow dryer together with pre-cleaning, secondary cleaning, 4 x 250tonne grain bins and bulk grain storage buildings. We also have a 50tonne public weighbridge.

In our quarry/landfill operation we have- Cat 950B & JCB456ZX loading shovels, Cat D4LGP dozer, Daewoo solar220 excavator, Hyundai Robex55-3 midi-excavator, JCB527-58 loadall, Ford TW25, Simba Mk3B discs and various Finlay conveyors and screener.

 

Richard, Jennie & Robert Foot take delivery of 3x NH8080 combines in 1979- rollover the image to see Jennie, Robert and Gabriel 37 years later.......

 

 

About us- The Past to the Present

The Foot Family has been farming at Monk Sherborne near Basingstoke, Hampshire since September 1939.

In September 1957 Richard Foot took the tenancy of Vyne Farm from the National Trust and in 1964 the family bought Vyne Lodge Farm.

Since then the business has taken on tenancies for land at Bramley, Silchester and Headley.

The start of the 60's saw the birth of Hampshire Farm Developments, seen as a club of what was then classed as "up and coming barley barons", the idea was to club together and develop what we now call "diversification"! The out come was the setting up of HFD (peas) at Cowdown Farm, Micheldever and growth in the production and supply of canning/freezing peas

The mid 60's saw the introduction of potatoes around 1980 saw the introduction of Iceberg Lettuce. The mid 80's brought a farm in Portugal making year round lettuce production possible and also the beginning of out own haulage business.

Around the same time work started on an Agricultural Lime Quarry, then came the 90's with the winding up of lettuce in the uk and the farm in Portugal, unfortunately by the mid 90's road haulage costs went up and revenue came down, sadly forcing the disposal of the haulage fleet

Near the end of the 90's it was decided to cease the HFD peas operation due to the uneconomic cost of transporting chilled peas ever further as processors closed more and more southern based factories

The New Millennium brought the decision to monitor potato production after several years of dismal returns and weather that we would all prefer to forget.

Autumn 2001 heralded the end of potatoes and sadly brought the untimely loss of Richard Foot who had "battled" with 18 months of ill health.

In the beginning of 2002 we unfortunately had to shed 3 staff of considerable service and carry out a dispersal sale of the potato equipment, but we have focused on and strengthened our cereal production along with our diversification projects which includes lime quarrying and landfill.

2002 was a year in which as it progressed we were more and more glad to have taken the decisions we had especially as we watched others struggling with the potato nightmare.

2003/4 brought the completion of securing the tenancy's that had formerly been held by Richard Foot and transferring them to his widow Jennie Foot. The farm continues to be a family business chaired by Jennie, with the day to day running in the hands of Manager/MD Mike Dalgarno. Richard's eldest daughter Ginette Filson remains involved as the farms Company secretary and agronomist.

2005 Mike Filson becomes the current holder of the Environmental Licence required for the Quarry and Landfill site.

2006 We take on a contracting agreement with a near neighbour and also lost some other ground, so things balance up again.

2007 The year starts with the prospect of Scottish and Southern Electric installing a new underground power supply across the heaviest London clay ground between Basingstoke and Bramley.

2008 Another year starting with much promise, but tempered with some difficult harvesting weather, with rainfall less than some areas, here it was still the year of the dryer, we loose the contracting agreement of 2006 which helps with our harvesting workload no end. Overall most crops produced good averages, but we struggled to keep up with the volatile up and downs of our inputs! Meanwhile the Scottish and Southern/Skanska Power supply installation continues across farmland in conditions that we would not tolerate nor be allowed under current regulations, but are irrelevant to these utilities.

2009 A sad year as Billy Cook our former head ploughman passes away in March. The new underground power supply to Basingstoke is still being installed across farmland in what can only be described as an open scar operation making interesting field shapes and awkward farming! With changes at our neighbours- The Manydown Company, we take advantage of hiring for several months one of their redundant men who effectively subsoils the vast majority of the farm, catching up on what had been difficult to do in past years. Harvest turns into another on and off wet weather scenario that makes chopping straw the norm.

2010 A difficult year. Things get off to a good start with the expected completion of the power cable work due later in the year, the oncoming harvest is looking good, as is the weather and the market for straw is positive for once. With harvest just over a week away our Manager/MD collapses at the weekend and is gravely ill, the farm staff though shocked pull together and carry out all the harvest plans already laid down and then the autumn drilling. Thankfully our key team member makes an amazing U turn, although he will not fully return until the new year. Meanwhile the OSR harvest goes well, then as usual rain interrupts harvest and the prospect of having straw unwanted in the swath brings the combines chopper into action yet again, along with the dryer. Machinery wise we have a major tractor gearbox problem followed by an even bigger engine problem in another tractor and to wrap things up an artic lorry clips the farms weighbridge catwalk writing off the recently installed weighbridge portacabin! On a brighter side, the company buys Stocks Farm, having been tenants since the early 1980's.

2011 The year gets off to a good start with our Manager/MD returning to work and quickly getting up to speed at the helm. Negotiations with Skanska continue over damage caused en-mass to many land drains through the farm from the laying of the towns new power supply. Crops look well until the late spring drought when an early and quick harvest seem on the cards for once, things take a strange twist with the onset of cooler weather and rain that encourages secondary growth in some crops on lighter ground, but generally crops on the heavier ground survives well unlike some in the country this year. From expecting an easy harvest we get our normal wet weather with a fair proportion of dryer work, but for once we manage to sell quite a lot of straw. Ground conditions are quite wet through harvest but things improve into autumn drilling with soft, but moist seedbeds and some of the best looking seeds peeping through for once. For two weeks after harvest we once again have major scars across the route of the earlier power line while drainage contractors implement works paid for by Skanska to rectify the land drain damage. Autumn drilling is rolled up with beans in by the third week of October

2012 Was the year a weather station was installed on the workshop at Vyne Farm, data recording started in February. In March the Environment Agency forwarded a letter warning of possible restrictions to the farms extraction licences for irrigation, this began the now record breaking wettest year! With no previous data we start the records with 11 months totalling 969.6mm rainfall. Nearby sources point to the missing first month easily covering the 30mm required to make the years total rainfall of 1 metre. The year is one long spell of finding gaps in the spells of rainfall to carry out most tasks. Harvest is another for the dryer, the majority needing some attention and as the wet harvest progresses the more desperate conditions become. Much grain shows the signs of suffering the nationwide trend of low yields and quality. The nonexistent summer fails to fill out crops. Autumn drilling suffers from the precipitation and mass slug attacks. On the plus side crop prices rise to help negate the low yields. Machinery wise our new Bateman RB26 sprayer arrives mid harvest, we sold our NH8870 and replaced it with an 18month old MF6499. The year ends with 30acres of potatoes still in heavy clay ground untouched.

2013 The year starts with a white January. Rainfall starts off below average with a small peak in early spring dropping down significantly by harvest when some crops begin to die off. We try a demo combine known not to like bone dry crops, but late season in one of the brittlest crops of straw for years it didn't go well. You could walk through the standing straw and hear the stems breaking. Yields are low and pinched grains common. Autumn rain fall increases and the winter turns into water-water everywhere. Luckily most flooding is shortlived and localised so not really effecting crops yet. Machinery wise we move on the 13 year old JCB 530/70 loadall and bring in a 3 year old 531/70 loadall- a significant jump up in technology and output in basically identical machines. A deal is struck trading in our 4m Kockerling Quadro cultivator for a new identical replacement. It works well here and we haven't seen anything yet to equal its ability in handling damp sticky conditions with its self cleaning packer/depth rollers. Delivery will be after its been paraded on the importers stand in Januarys 2014 Lamma show.

2014 The year begins with severe rainfall countrywide, here some of the chalk springs flow for perhaps the third time in 30 years, crops this year are finding plenty of moisture, perhaps too much. As the year progresses impressive crops begin to wane as things dry out. Machinery wise we purchase a used Manitou 735-120 and sell a very elderly loadall. Later in the year we acquire a used Quivogne Pluton to experiment with some cultivation as we subsoil. By harvest crops have ripened fairly well and for once harvest has periods where moisture is low enough to put straight into store. By autumn things turn towards the impending 64th British National Ploughing Championships which the farm are hosting with assistance from our neighbour, Drummonds/The Manydown Co. Fields are cleared ready for the impending invasion and then the week prior the heavens open and it become touch and go if it will be rained off. Luckily being held on the chalk downland at Manor farm means that apart from quagmires where vehicles are tracked in and out, the ground used for ploughing is ok on the days. The event is also an ideal vehicle for the Foot family and G B Foot to celebrate 75 years of farming at Manor Farm as a tenant of Queens College, Oxford. A marquee is set up at the championships with a display of photographs and a cine film/DVD covering the years along with refreshments for guests and visitors to enjoy.

2015 First job on the land is to rectify the damage from last years ploughing championship, being on free draining chalk it was cultivated and left alone to recover and then at the right moment worked, drilled so that by late spring you wouldn't of thought it was the Somme less than 6 months earlier. Following trials with the Pluton last year we replace the part worn discs and get a much better tilth with it. Although not the answer to everything, it gives another tool to chose for some soils. We begin to looks towards replacing the current combine, it has suffered from internal wear due to the old design headers fondness to bulldoze and the absence of a stone trap to remove what gets by the "bomb door" sensor. We learn that current NH rotaries can be specced with stone traps again. If they hadn't its probable they wouldn't be considered. During the summer we have demo's of the latest NH & MF combines plus a fleeting trip to MF's Breganza's factory only being polite to look around Venice before flying back...! Harvest gets underway, one field now sold by its owner is after many years harvested for the last time before becoming yet more houses for the nearby village of Bramley. We trade in a Honda 420 quad for a Kubota RTV900. The remaining two rusty 250t grain bins get new bottom rings, the 20yr old McConnell hedgetrimmer is replaced by a Twose TP600, we also acquire nearly new Eastern sweeper brush for the forklifts and equally new-ish Richard Western SF14HS grain trailer - our first dabble with LGP tyres/wheels on a trailer. On the down side the Claas 55 Challenger suffers a waterpump failure which cracks the head due to localised overheating, this on virtually the last day of autumn drilling!

2016 Following a very mild winter spring drilling went well with crops looking good until a fault with a new fertiliser spreader produces huge bands of stripes in many crops. Winter beans that were ploughed in without knocking the ground down because of heavy rain grew on to be the roughest crop to harvest later in the year. Harvest was completed with a newly acquired NH CR8.90 combine but issues with its straw chopper/spreader leaves thick mats of chopped straw behind with little on either side, this and other issues made more impact on later autumn cultivation/drilling. Harvest was a breeze once the OSR was cut, a dry spell arrived with the onset of the wheat harvest, without the need for drying it was possible to harvest easily once ripened into store, although the fertiliser hiccup meant that some crops ripened very unevenly- some straw would take time to be fit for baling, this impacted on some fields down for OSR drilling. It looks like these two problems will take some time for the fields to fully recover. Also being hampered by straw unfit to be baled were the drainage contractors waiting to land drain several of the main fields at Stocks farm that have been wet for many years. Installation of plastic and stone with mole draining shows its worth when the wet autumn spell arrives with both new and some old drains running well. Finally The Claas 55 Challenger is moved on, having bust a track near the end of autumn drilling its decided to replace it at 18yrs old with a more sprightly and more modern 8yr old Cat MT755B challenger due to arrive in the new year.