DAIRY FOCUS: D & R Johnson & Son, Middle Farm, Shrewton

2nd January 2020

Bauer 655 separator pump and MEX mixer, collection tank and solids bunker (with Agribuild)

The sweeping downland of Salisbury plain outside the village of Shrewton is host to Middle Farm, where the Johnson family have been dairy farming since 1986.

Although still a medium size dairy operation, Middle Farm’s herd has grown progressively over the years and today 140 cows are being milked. Like all dairy farmers, the Johnsons have faced the challenge of slurry disposal, turning what could have been be a problem into a benefit. Tom Johnson takes up the story:

“We needed to increase our capacity for slurry handling and create a situation where we could more easily use the end products on our own 350 acres of farmland. Most ofthe land is either used for grazing or growing feed, so producing our own fertilizer contributes positively to the economics.

“Luckily our decision to tackle the job coincided with two things: eligibility for grant aid and a chance meeting with T H WHITE’s slurry specialist Bob Gallop at an agricultural show. We hadn’t worked with T H WHITE before but we instantly warmed to Bob – he really knows his subject and he was able to help us towards the right solutions.”

As well as specifying the necessary hardware, Bob introduced the Johnsons to Agribuild who participated in the tender for the groundworks and building elements of the project.

The tenders from T H WHITE and Agribuild were competitive and work on the new slurry installation was completed in April 2019. A new collection tank and solids bunker was constructed and fitted with a Bauer 655 separator pump and a MEX mixer, also from Bauer. These ensure that the nutrients are dispersed evenly and the separator divides the solids and liquid elements.

“The liquid has a high nitrogen content,” says Tom, “so we can apply that to the land with a dribble bar. The dry solid residue is now much easier to handle too and is also high in nitrogen, but it’s slow release nitrogen which makes it very useful on the fields.

“After less than a year we have already cut our fertiliser bill by a third as a result of recycling the farm’s slurry in this way – strong proof, it were needed, that we made the right choices!”