We are passionate about environmentally-responsible farming and work hard to ensure that biodiversity at Cranford thrives alongside our farming practices.
Our farm specialises in the production of cereal crops such as rye, oats, wheat and oil seed rape to balance the rotation, ensuring our soils remain fertile and productive for generations to come. A new addition to this rotation is maize which is used as feed crop for the Anaerobic Digester. Read more about our AD Plant here
The farming operation has recently moved to a new system where by the principle cultivating and harvest activity is outsourced to a third party contractor. This is a highly efficient business model for a farm of our size giving us the flexibility and productivity of using larger machines while allowing the contractor to spread the costs of maintaining such equipment over a large number of farms. Increased horse-power and machinery width ensures effective land and time management and modern technology allows the farming operation to be more efficient, with higher output.
On-board computers and GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) systems are used to ensure that work on the farm is carried out with high levels of efficiency allowing us to spray fields at variable rates according to their precise needs, map fields accurately and vary seed rates according to the crops requirements.
We are a member of the Red Tractor food assurance scheme. Its respected food standards are used across the food supply chain to provide clear food labelling about the quality and sourcing of your food. Read more about the Red Tractor marque here.
Most farmland flora and fauna originally benefited from agriculture, but with the passage of time, intensification of the industry has led to a decline of wildlife. However, thanks to new innovative farming policies, we have the opportunity to resolve many of the problems that have caused this general decline.
The Cranford Farming Company is passionate about environmentally-responsible farming and work hard to ensure that biodiversity at Cranford thrives alongside our farming practices. To this aim we joined the Environmental Stewardship (ES) scheme. The ES is a land management scheme in England which aims to secure widespread environmental benefits. It was launched in 2005 by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.
In order to qualify for the scheme, we have enable a number of farming conservation practices including: Buffer Strips & Seed Mixtures, hedgerow maintenance, winter feeding, woodland management, The Ironstone Quarry & The Soay Sheep
Buffer Strips & Seed Mixtures
On the Cranford farm you will see that most fields have a six-meter margin between crop and hedge, and in some places, additional planting of seed or pollen rich plants have also been implemented. These areas receive no fertilisers or agrochemicals and experience limited farm vehicle traffic providing an ideal cover for young birds and supplying a plentiful source of insects.
Important for wildlife as shelter and a food source for animals, such as small birds and dormice, hedgerows are also historic and cultural landscape features. Hedgerows act as pollinators for orchard trees, the nectar and pollen also being of benefit to invertebrates such as bees. We limit our cutting to once every two years, with no cutting taking place from the end of February until the end of September to allow hedges to fruit, ensuring that the nesting birds are not disturbed. We also ensure fertilisers or pesticides are not applied within 2 metres of the hedge line.
We spread special bird mix around the estate. This maintains good populations of finches, sparrows and yellow hammers, as well as small mammals.
We have a number of mature and new woodlands across the estate. In the mature woods we encourage natural regeneration of native species where possible. Managing stock access and ensuring breaks in the canopy will allow young trees to develop. When thinning or felling (e.g. for fuelwood), we select non-native and invasive species such as sycamore and rather than burning unwanted trimmings/branches from felling/thinning they are stacked to rot down; providing important refuge sites for insects and small mammals. We link woodlands where ever possible to ditches, hedgerows, and lines of trees to allow wildlife to move from one woodland area to another.
Over the past 40 years we have supplemented these mature woods with a number of new plantations.
The Ironstone Quarry & The Soay Sheep
Within the estate is a large area of now redundant open ironstone quarries. These were left un-restored after mineral extraction stopped in the early 1960’s. After being neglected for over 40 years, we now have a natural environment worth preserving. To this effect, we use a special breed of sheep, Soay sheep, to keep the quarries from being over-grown and preserve the unique grassland species found there.
Soay sheep are a rare breed of native sheep. Descended from a population of feral sheep on the island of Soay in the St Kilda Archipelago, they are ideally suited to the wild conditions of the old quarry.
Shooting & Conservation
Managing the Estate sympathetically for game also encourages biodiversity over peripheral farm habitats. Many declining farmland birds benefit from well managed hedges, field margins and woodlands, as they provide food, shelter and protection from predation.
The overriding problem for the majority of bird species, including species such as partridges, is the lack of valuable chick food at the right time. Abundant chick food encourages good production in the shape of big broods or multiple broods. Adult food is also important to over-winter birds so that they are in good condition to breed successfully. Providing game covers and feed areas for game birds successfully enhances our overall conservation policy.