Strips after harvest in West Field, also known as
Top Field, clearly showing Radbeck Syke between
the two rows of facing strips and a road used for
access by farm vehicles.
The same view in May as the second year crop is
starting to grow strongly. The different shades of green
in the strips on the left indicate the boundaries.
Each of the fields is divided into strips and each farmer has an allocation of strips in each field to share out the good and bad land and that nearer and further from the village centre.

Even if a farmer works adjacent strips, the furrow denoting the boundary is maintained. The narrow gateways into the Open Fields and the small size of the strips restrict the size of the equipment used to work them. Strips range in size between about 1 acre and about 7 acres. The holdings of individual farmers range between 120 - 140 acres.

Not all farmers have an equal area of land in each field. This affects their return each year as when the field in which they have a large holding is fallow, they harvest much less than in a year when the field is in production. The impact is much worse if the fallow year happens to be a high-yielding year, making the potential loss greater, or equally if the years when the crop is poor and the major holding is being harvested. This effect is masked to some extent at the present time by the subsidies paid for conservation management practices.

The holdings are small by modern standards and most of the farmers either work part time in other work or have employment elsewhere and use contractors for the intensive periods of the year such as harvest.

There are areas within the open fields which are not assigned to any tenancy and are known as sykes (pronounced 'six'). They are the areas which historically were too steep or too wet to be cultivated. They often contain a road, a drainage ditch or both and were used to turn the plough round. Farmers must not disturb the sykes when ploughing and must avoid spraying within six metres of their strip boundaries to prevent them from being contaminated by artificial fertilisers and chemicals. Many of the sykes are designated 'Sites of Special Scientific Interest' (SSSIs)

Click here for a large scale map of the Laxton sykes (800MB)

Under Countryside Stewardship rules, the sykes may be grazed by Laxton farmers. Natural England has supported this practice by providing some sheep proof fencing to promote wild flowers which benefit from being aftermath grazed.

The growing sequence in the 3 field rotation is:

Year 1: Wheat

Year 2: Spring / Winter Crops

Year 3: Fallow