Chris Woodget, Technical Forage Specialist

27-7-2020

Department: Forage

“I look at all aspects of a farms’ business and often forage is the key area that can improve the whole system."

Joining the team

Chris with custoemr

“I joined ForFarmers four years ago in June 2016. I work as the Technical Forage Specialist within the Exeter and Portbury Ruminant Sales Teams. I travel right across the South from Dorset to Kent and also cover the Channel Islands. I try to visit Jersey three times a year and on the island I work with some of the best Jersey herds.”

“My role consists of working together with Account Managers on farm to help them advise which crops will best suit the farm’s system and fit within their cattle diets."

“Working with different colleagues means that I get to visit and work with a diverse range of farms. This variety means that every day can be different and this makes my role interesting and enjoyable.”

“I do believe that ‘every day is a school day’ especially when you are working with such an experienced team. I also enjoy working with other departments and seeing what they bring to each farm. As the total feed business we have dedicated youngstock, beef and sheep specialists along with blends and straights traders. Together we help farmers find the right products for their farming system, animals and farm business goals.”

Analysing the inputs

 “I look at all aspects of a farms’ business and often forage is the key area that can improve the whole system. If I had to sum up my job in one sentence I would say it’s like being a detective as I am always looking for clues as to why things are not performing to their maximum potential.”     

“I crop plan to help farmers decide on which varieties to grow. This is based on their soil type, climatic conditions and end goal. There are loads of varieties of crops and choosing the right one can make a big difference especially to dairy cows, their milk quality and yields.”

“During the summer, I sample a lot forage for example silage. It’s really important that farmers know the nutritional value of each cut so that the animals diets are balanced and performance is optimised. If the analysis comes back as an average value, I work out how we can improve it for future years.”

“As part of my role I go to farms to troubleshoot crop performance and this involves crop walking and looking at the key inputs. My starting point is the soil, by soil sampling I can check for the right level of nutrients are available to the crop and if not, I advise on how we can correct it.”

Training farmers on a forage day

Helping solve problems

 “An example of overcoming a challenge was when I was taken to a new customer in Kent and their production of forage was not as high as it could have been. They were struggling to get their dairy cows to milk well on their home grown forage. I walked their grassland and measured their silage production. After some lengthy discussions with the Account Manager, we advised the customer to make some difficult decisions regarding their contractor. The customer followed our advice and this has made a tremendous difference to cutting dates and in turn the quality of his forage.”

“With a revamp of the diets in the parlour and blends outside, the Account Manager and farmer have taken the cows from 7,800ltrs to over 9,000ltrs in 18 months. From a forage point of view we increased milk from forage from 8ltrs to an average of 16ltrs. This proves that by using a holistic farm approach we can make the big differences and improvements on farm.”

Continuously learning

“During the last year I have been studying for my Grassland Basis which has been a challenge as it’s been a long time since I studied at college. I have written a project on pre-emergent sprays in maize crops and their effects on end yields. I have been studying in my own time and have been able to use one of our customer’s farms as a case study. The results are very interesting and it’s been a really worthwhile project. In a nut shell, the report highlights the importance of bench marking production and proves that with the right advice, farmers can improve their production with little cost and can achieve important net gains.”

Achieving award-winning results

Chris at the Farming Awards

“A real highlight for me during the last couple of years, has been helping a number of customers make it to the national final of the ForFarmers Excellence in Farming Awards. I’ve worked with these customers for the past three years and with some incremental changes and improvement, performance has rocketed. Whilst in London at the presentation, I saw how proud the farmers are of their personal achievement and this makes my job so worthwhile.”

“ForFarmers have such talented and professional people and they work across a wide range of departments. Together we work hand-in-hand with farmers and help them achieve their specific goals and targets. By helping customers perform efficiently at the highest level we are ensuring that we create sustainable farming businesses which are ready for the future.”