As part of this integrated farming system the organic manures from the cows are used as natural fertilisers for crops, returning nutrients to the soil. 83% of our feed in 2020 was grown without any artificial fertiliser.
We use conservation tillage, minimising the soil’s exposure to the elements, to grow crops more sustainably and to stop soil carbon escaping into the atmosphere. Our fields are planted year-round to help protect soils from erosion and recover nitrogen, an essential nutrient for growing, from the atmosphere.
These initiatives have resulted in an increase of soil carbon – an indicator of its health and quality – averaging 3%, almost double the UK average for cultivated soils.
We manage approximately 12% of our land to support greater biodiversity and improve natural habitats. We have planted 24,000 hedge plants, over 100,000 trees and restored 34 ponds in the last three years.
Our field margins are planted with a combination of woodland edge strips, pollen and nectar flower mixes and winter bird foods to improve biodiversity. These strips connect 340 hectares of woodland habitats and help to create wildlife havens across the farm.
Over the past four years 72 hectares of flood plain on the River Dee has been regenerated into species rich flood meadows and a further 52 hectares has been restored into wetland habitats supporting increasingly rare flora and fauna including the critically endangered water vole and breeding sites for lapwing and snipe.