Thomas Banks started the farm in 1976, after splitting away from the family farm, where he was farming with his brother and father. Thomas started by renting 125 acres from his father with a handful of old buildings. With help from his wife Joan and father in law Frank Turner he steadily built the farm up and over the years he expanded the farm up to an area of just over 2500 acres. In 2004, Edward Banks (Thomas’s son) returned from studying a degree in agriculture at Harper Adams Agricultural College and has continued to move the farm forward. Since then Edward has managed to add a further 500 acres to the farm size so that at present the farm operates over an area of just over 3000 acres. Edward is also a co-founder and director of RTK Farming Ltd and is also on the NFU Sugar Board.
Our main farm site is now located at Manor Farm, Harlton with over 3000 tons of storage as well as a very busy wedding barn on site.
The farm has a geographic range from Swaffham Bulbeck (near Newmarket), Madingley, Barrington, Arrington and with the main base at Harlton and Little Eversden. Due to this geographic range, we endeavour to spread our work out as efficiently as possible, by mixing the crops between spring and autumn and with different types of break crop, which includes 3200 tonnes of sugar beet quota. Harvesting therefore starts early in July with OSR and spring barley and continues through to mid-September with beans. Work then continues with the sugar beet being lifted from October onwards. Drilling is also spread with the beginning of the season being OSR in August through to spring beans in February and finally sugar beet in March.
At present the farm operates a three-year rotation on our heavy soil types, that incorporates direct drilling OSR, minimal tillage after break crops for wheat crops and ploughing for spring beans. On the lighter soil types we incorporate spring barley into the rotation after over wintered stubble’s as well as after a crop of sugar beet.
Every year Thomas Banks and Partners participates in the Harper Adams Industrial Placement Scheme. We strongly believe that it is very important to encourage new talent and new younger farmers to join the agriculture business. This gives the placement student a chance to experience all aspects of the business for a full year, from agronomy to large machinery operations. Please see our employee page.
Each year the farm participates in the national ‘Open Farm Sunday’. We strongly believe in the need for keeping the general public aware of what we do and the important role that farming plays in the countryside.
We also have field information signs located by every footpath on the farm. These provide information about what is growing in the field, its intended use, how it was established and the environmental features in the field.
We also have a regular column in the local parish magazine, which endeavours to keep everyone up to date with what is happening on the farm at that time of year. We also do regular updates in the Farmers Weekly as Edward Banks is one of their barometer farmers, as well as advising the Daily Telegraph, Farmers Guardian and Radio 4 ‘Farming Today’ programme.