Farming is no different to any other business and the economics to deliver are daunting, particularly when not only affected by the vagaries of the English weather but also international and global influences. Copas Farms has decided that, despite many outside pressures, we wish to remain farming into the future such as generations of Copas’ have done in the past.
Copas Farms’ farming policy has changed considerably over the past few years, but overall, as we are growing a World commodity, we look to grow combinable crops in large quantities as economically and efficiently as possible on the majority of good land. Currently a combination of Winter Wheat and Oil Seed Rape is grown in rotation with poorer less productive land being in permanent grassland (for hay and horse grazing paddocks) or fallowed (for environmental benefits and to allow a First Wheat the following year).
For over a decade now Copas Farms has been using a minimum cultivation system which does not involve ploughing. This is an environmentally friendly method which has also resulted in cost savings, but not to the detriment of the yields. Today over one third of the crops are direct drilled.
Whilst the geographical area of the estate extends into Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, to maintain efficiency Copas Farms maximises acreage levels around modern machinery and equipment which includes just three tractors, one sprayer and one combine with on-board computers giving the facility to steer by GPS to reduce overlaps and over application of inputs. All grain is processed and stored on-farm and is hauled to the mills and docks in our own articulated lorry.
PICK YOUR OWN
Copas Farms operates two Pick Your Own farms which collectively extend to 81 acres. The first farm, Lower Mount Farm in Cookham, opened back in the early 1970s and this was joined by Calves Lane Farm in Iver in 1978. A wide range of fruit and vegetables are grown, the season starting with asparagus in May and finishing with apples and sweetcorn in September. Summer fruits, including strawberries, raspberries and cherries remain great favourites with customers.
Copas Farms grow seasonal fruits and vegetables which are primarily selected for their flavour. They are grown using modern planting and cultivation techniques and only the minimum amount of fertilisers and insecticides are used to control pests.
Copas Farms has seen an increasing demand for grazing land for horses as the popularity of equestrian pursuits, both sporting and recreational, continues to grow. As a consequence our poorer land (less yield potential) is increasingly being used to provide grazing for horses and we are also investing in new and improved equestrian facilities.
A continuing policy of conservation and maintenance is implemented by Copas Farms to preserve and enhance the natural environment.
Encouraging wildlife has always been an important consideration and during the course of our farming activities we are conscious of the needs of wildlife and, wherever possible, we look to improve the landscape to provide sanctuaries and havens. This includes maintaining and planting trees and hedgerows and digging ponds.
As much as possible Copas Farms operates as a self-contained unit. This includes a fully equipped workshop for most vehicle and machinery repairs and a dedicated construction team to maintain existing premises and to build new buildings to invest in the infrastructure of the Estate for the future. The Farm Office provides a full back-up administrative service which includes most legal and accounting requirements.
Over the past couple of years, Copas Farms have reviewed all aspects of our operations to see how we might improve our ‘green credentials’ and to this end we have invested heavily in various new energy solutions.
On a number of our farm buildings we have installed solar panels to generate electricity for use on the farms and any surplus capacity can be sold back to the grid to give us another diversified income stream. Currently we have 507w of solar panel capacity that generate 446,000 kWh of electricity per year. For two residential properties on the Estate, we have installed Biomass boilers for heating which use woodchips from our woodlands for a renewable energy source.