The Farm :: Bishop Burton College

The Farm

Farming at Bishop Burton

Student Feeding the Cattle

The college farm's 890 acres, split between arable and grassland, supports many enterprises typical of the area. The farm is at the heart of Bishop Burton College, which is England's National Centre of Vocational Excellence for Agriculture.

With a fleet of the latest machinery and highly experienced farm staff, we pride ourselves on giving our students as much hands-on experience as possible, from milking the cows to training for forklift and sprayer certificates.

The college holds an annual Stockmanship competition, which is organised by staff to introduce students to the showing of stock and the husbandry techniques required to keep their animals in top condition. Classes include equine, dairy, beef, sheep and calf.

Students are also encouraged to show college stock at external events such as Countryside Live and agricultural shows including Great Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Driffield.

Commercial Farming

Student with CowThe college farm operates in a commercial environment and so is subject to the same market forces as everyone else.

  • We ensure a clear, thorough and transparent planning, monitoring and accounting procedures
  • High-quality management has the skills and experience needed to predict and implement change
  • We have a clear understanding of all recent legislation, with methods of implementation explained to all
  • The farm has close links to the agricultural community, through trading activity, trials and research and the delivery of training courses
  • Staff have a high level of technical expertise and are involved in managing the farm, along with having day to day contact with the students
  • The farm provides an up-to-date and relevant 'green laboratory' for student and staff use
  • It is a large scale, well equipped mixed farming business
  • We interface with the wider community, through open days and providing work experience opportunities to schools and students with special needs
  • The farm contributes to and benefits from the college's property strategy, which aims to provide the physical resources required for commercial expansion
  • Farm activity is fully customer-focused and diversified.
The best precision farming at your fingertips
At any one time there will be 3,000 pigs on the farm

Pig Enterprise

The unit has been totally redesigned with pig health, welfare and performance as priorities. Our 'farrowing village' is a first, with sows farrowing outdoors in pig arcs within the unit.

Pigs are straw-bedded throughout and the unit is managed to the standards required of the RSPCA Freedom Foods scheme.

There are 216 sows and gilts, with 18 sows farrowing every two weeks in a batch system.

Cropping Enterprise

Our location here in East Yorkshire is normally an ideal climate for producing high yields of combinable crops. Soil types vary from chalky wold to medium heavy loams.

To assist farmers with the new agronomy approaches, the college is an Agrii iFarm and Northern Development Trial Site. Regular meetings take place, which senior students attend, where farmers, agronomists, machinery manufacturers and other specialists come together to discuss new management approaches and share best practice.

Trials are ongoing, with Agrii looking into new varieties, drilling and establishment techniques and spray recommendations. The college has large plots dedicated to trial crops and conducts regular visits from farmers, food producers and industry bodies to monitor the success of the trials.

Dairy Enterprise

We have a herd of circa 150 cows, mainly Holstein and some Brown Swiss Cross, producing 1.15million litres of milk per year. The herd calves all year round in order to provide a level production pattern to meet local demand. All recent investment has been designed to further improve cow welfare, particularly aimed at reducing the incidence of lameness and mastitis. All replacements are home-bred and reared.

Sheep Enterprise

The flock consists of circa 450 ewes, predominantly North of England Mule and some Lleyn and Texel crosses. The entire flock lambs from March onwards.

The sheep building houses in-lamb ewes from early winter up to lambing in March and beyond.

The key to the system is keeping bought-in feed costs to a minimum, particularly after recent price rises.

Beef Enterprise

We opened a new beef unit in 2011 complete with state-of-the-art handling facilities. This is used to produce dairy-cross beef animals from our own dairy unit, and pure-bred Limousin and Hereford cross beef animals from our newly-formed suckler herd.

The majority of our beef animals are for sale to Dunbia, a quality meat retailer based in Lancashire.


Bishop Burton College farm adopted the principles of integrated farm management many years ago. We have been members of Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) since 1996. Our policy is to take a holistic approach to the management of all aspects of the farm, to the betterment of the environment, livestock and business.

The college farm is a genuinely mixed operation, with crop rotations planned to maintain soil, plant and animal health. A recent evolution, for example, has been to reintroduce two-year grazing grass leys on to the arable farm, and to cease the use of rented-in permanent grass for sheep production. This will:

  • Culturally control blackgrass and other noxious weeds
  • Improve soil structure and increase organic matter, which in turn will reduce nitrate leaching, make soils easier to cultivate (therefore saving diesel) and store more carbon in the soil
  • Provide clean grazing for ewes and lambs, dramatically cutting use of worming products.

Another example is that all manure and slurry (solid gold and liquid gold) is returned to land, at the optimum time to the optimum crops, resulting in very high average yields, minimal pollution and a drastically reduced carbon footprint, as bought-in nitrogen fertiliser quantities are 40% less than intensive arable units of similar scale. No phosphate or potash fertiliser is bought in.

Our arable and grassland co-exist, with woodland, sensitively managed hedgerows and non-cropped areas, among many other voluntary measures, aimed at protecting the environment and a range of habitats as well as increasing biodiversity.

Our Environmental Policy

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    The Farm - Environmental Policy

    We recognise our responsibility to environmental sustainability at local, regional and global levels and our requirement to comply with all relevant environmental legislation and codes of good practice.