A total of 6,000 acres is farmed, with an approximate 60/40 split between in-hand farming and let agricultural tenancies.
The land ranges from productive soil with large, open fields, through to less productive chalk soil, smaller fields and those surrounded by and interspersed with large blocks of woodland. Farming systems have evolved over the years, with the Estate using the most up to date agronomy and cultivation techniques.
Wide range of crops
All land is farmed on rotation. Crops grown include: wheat for bread, biscuits and animal feed; oats for breakfast cereals; barley for malting and animal feed, oilseed rape for animal feed, vegetable oils, and biodiesel; field beans for human consumption and animal feed, and sugar beet for sugar production.
Committed to conservation
The in-hand farming business is committed to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Some 215 acres of the arable rotation is now managed specifically for conservation. Important habitat is provided for a wide range of flora and fauna. Red Kites, Barn Owls, Egrets, Grey Partridge, Kingfishers, Skylarks and Swifts are regular feathered visitors, with Brown Hares, Common Lizards and even Adders now thriving on the Estate. Fallow and Muntjac Deer are a common sight, with small numbers of Roe and even Red Deer making the occasional appearance.
The 500 acres of broadleaf woodland, which includes areas of Sir Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s parkland landscape, is managed on an environmentally and commercially sustainable basis.
Utilising and managing our woodlands
The Estate operates a Woodland Management Plan and has developed a structured work programme to ensure value within current woodland operations. There are also plans in place to consider options for woodland creation. In addition, willow trees, which grow well along the banks of the River Cam, are harvested to supply the cricket bat industry. A condition of felling is the planting of at least the same number of replacement trees.
Defending our Ash trees
Included within the Woodland Management Plan is the management of Ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) – a fungus which originated in Asia. Its introduction to Europe about 30 years ago has devastated the European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and as the UK native Ash species did not evolve with the fungus, it has no natural defence against it. To contribute towards the cost of managing the Ash areas, the Estate will be thinning some woodland compartments to help generate additional funds.
The Estate is also looking into gaining a Forestry Commission Tree Health Grant to contribute to restocking Ash-dominated woodland compartments.