Matt and Dan Culley are fifth generation farmers running three businesses around the Bourne Valley near Andover, Hampshire.
The partnership, W. Culley and Son, was formed by their great grandfather and continues to this day. The farm is 185 hectares, which is split into 160 of arable, 10 of soft fruit and summer vegetables and 15 rough grazing and woodland. Matt Culley manages the arable side, which is a simple oilseed rape, wheat and two spring barleys rotation. Soils are grade three chalky loams with a clay cap and gravel in the valley bottom. Yields are generally above average and have improved over the last decade. There are some grass weeds, but these are manageable.
There is a separate article on the pick your own (PYO) enterprise run by Matt’s brother, Dan. Matt is also managing director of Bourne Valley Contract Farming Ltd. This company supplies machinery, labour and management services to another 650 hectares of arable cropping on top of the Culley’s own farm, and is split between five different landowners, including the home farm. The company employs one full time member of staff plus two part time workers for harvest. “We operate a min till policy for crop establishment and use various precision farming techniques to help with this and the growing crops,” said Matt Culley. “We also have a grain storage business, which supplies drying and storage facilities to our contract farm customers.”
The farm contracting is the most profitable of the three businesses by a long way when the end of year accounts are done. Per hectare, the PYO business is the most profitable, but that cannot be done over 650 hectares.