The Hawthorns Estate farm is a fourth-generation family business, trading as R.N. Padfield & Sons. Since a partnership was formed between Norton H. Padfield and his son, Dick in 1953, land and property have been purchased to bring the estate to its current size. In 2005, Chris Padfield took over from his father, Richard, launching collaborative ventures with local farmers on cattle and arable enterprises.
The farm has changed and developed over the past 113 years to meet changing economic, social and political pressures. The estate celebrates and shares a commitment to modern, conservation-minded farming and uses methods such as direct drilling and variable rate application technologies.
The farm comprises four distinct areas:
The Hawthorns Estate has worked with local farmers to develop a grain storage service for those who cannot store all their own grain or who want to clean or dry grain and don’t have modern facilities. It enables those who want to take advantage of pooled marketing strategies or want space for storage of speciality crops such as beans or linseed. The Hawthorns has established partnerships for selling the stored cereals with two national grain merchants.
Grain moistures and specifications vary wildly from year to year depending on the weather and few farmers can afford to invest in drying and blending facilities to cope with weather extremes.
Our grain storage facility increases farmer’s productivity by providing the ability to process the grain either by cleaning, drying or blending. This will enable grain sold by farmers to achieve marketing specifications whether it be moisture, protein levels, kg/hl, screenings or admix.
Farmers have a choice of bringing in cereals to be dried, sorted and returning the crop to their own storage or leaving it in storage at The Hawthorns to be sold when the market is higher.
The Hawthorns is fortunate to benefit from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. This funding will enable farmers to access modern testing, drying and cleaning facilities for cereal crops through the Hawthorns’ Grain Processing and Quality Facility project.
Crops such as malting barley have a strict specification to meet the market e.g. moisture, screening, admix etc. The ability to process grains e.g. dry, sort, etc will enable farmers to sell to a great range of markets and potentially upgrade cereals to higher end usage outlets with greater financial returns.
We are always keen to explore arable joint ventures as we look to reduce fixed costs in arable production.
The Hawthorns Estate has always reared beef cattle. The beef fattening unit is currently run as a joint venture with a large, local enterprise partner. This has worked well bringing benefits to the cattle and our arable processes. Straw is sold into the beef joint venture and manure is bought back into the arable business providing nutrients and organic matter for the soil. Growing cattle feed and grass rotationally reduces reliance on pesticide products to control troublesome weeds. The cattle joint venture benefits from a very close reliable source for feedstocks and waste disposal.
The Hawthorns Estate works hard to protect and promote wildlife on the farm. Approximately 10% of the land farmed at The Hawthorns is devoted to wildlife habitats. We have adopted conservation agriculture techniques and all crops are established through non-inversion tillage methods.
We are in the second decade of Environmental Stewardship schemes administered by Natural England. The current agreement focuses on field margins and protecting water courses.
To protect water, we have created buffer zones of grass margins – a minimum of six metres next to any brook or stream has been planted and is kept in permanent grass.
To promote birds and insects we grow 17 acres of wild bird seed and 7.5 acres of pollen and nectar plants. We have also created 50 Skylark plots for breeding, leave 2.5 acres unplanted for Lapwings to breed and leave 10 acres of wheat unharvested around the farm to provide a winter source of food for birds. In addition, we cultivate another 17 acres of field margins once during the year to stimulate the growth of rare arable weeds and have 17 acres of floristically enhanced margins.
In 2012, the RSPB volunteer and Farm Alliance conducted a bird survey noting 54 species (at the time of recording) with 10 species listed as Red Status including, Yellowhammer, Yellow Wagtail, Skylark and Lapwing.
R.N.Padfield & Sons currently works closely with two neighbouring farms and offers a range of contracting services. This includes from stubble to stubble services to individual field operations such as drilling or combining.