The East Hendred Estate in Oxfordshire devotes much of its 1500 acres to sheep and arable farming. Manager Julian Gold was keen to introduce sustainable farming methods and save money on fuel and energy bills. As an arable farmer, he was particularly interested in soil health and the sequestering of carbon through improved soil structure.
He identified three sources of emissions where action could be taken:
- use of chemical fertilisers on crops
- tractor use and tilling
- energy use in buildings
Replacing chemicals with natural fertilisers
Chemical fertilisers were a major source of emissions, causing over 80% of the farm’s total carbon footprint. To reduce the farm’s reliance on agro-chemicals, Julian began using cover crops between winter and spring rotations. This method improves soil structure, providing it with recycled natural nutrients.
Tractor use and tilling
Using tractors for planting and harvesting was another major source of emissions, releasing carbon as well as valuable nutrients from the soil. Julian turned to Controlled Traffic Farming and minimum tillage to reduce the impact.
Tractors are now used on only 20% of the total ground surface, leading to fuel savings of 10 litres per hectare. The use of specialist equipment to combine cultivating and drilling has also led to capital costs savings of £50,000.
The next step is to install a solar PV array whilst repairing the roof of one of the agricultural buildings. This will ensure further savings on energy costs.