The Martin Family – Red Tractor Crops and Lamb Farmers
Tom and Lisa Martin run Toons Lodge, a family farm near Peterborough that has been in Tom’s family for around 80 years.
Tom’s parents still live on the farm and his father is still working alongside his son in the day-to-day operations. The family are very proud of the food they produce, in total they rear around 500 lambs each year and harvest over 1,500 tonnes of crops. There is a wide variety of crops grown on site including wheat used in flour, rapeseed which is made into oil and barley which they supply to Budweiser for malting in their beer making process.
Tom is particularly proud of British farming and the levels of standards the industry works to:
“The UK is one of only four countries in the world that have an A grade rating from World Animal Protection when it comes to animal welfare. Our sheep are out in the fields year round and are 100% grass feed which makes a big difference to their health and, because they are Red Tractor assured, they are recognised as being reared to better standards which means they can be sold for a higher price.”
Whilst running a profitable farm is Tom’s number one objective, the environmental footprint comes a very close second and he considers Red Tractor to be a key way to demonstrate both their environmental commitment and the care they demonstrate on farm:
“Our Red Tractor accreditation provides us with recognition of the care we put into our farming. As farmers we are the main stewards of the British countryside and so every square metre of our land is farmed carefully and sensitively to look after and protect it.”
The family have worked hard to increase soil health and ensure key nutrients aren’t lost. To achieve this they have almost completely phased out the use of insecticides by taking more risks and building up the number of insect predators on site. Supporting local wildlife is also vital to helping keep farmland soil healthy, 35 acres of conservation areas have been introduced alongside a dozen new woodlands to support bees and birds.
New technology has also helped to protect soil health by minimising the amount of cultivation and ploughing. The amount of time the tractor is needed to plant new crops on the field has been reduced by 75% thanks to new equipment and satellite imagery also helps to monitor and assess the differing needs of crops and fields.
Despite all of the plans and strategies put in place, Tom acknowledges that he is still at the mercy of the elements and that the working with nature is both his favourite part of the job but also the most challenging at the same time:
“The weather is currently creating our biggest challenge. We do everything we can to plan, prepare and protect our land but the elements can still work against us to counter our efforts.”