It has been a very difficult Winter here on the Cranford Estates. The wet weather started way back in August with sporadic heavy rains that continued throughout the Autumn as storms battered the UK. It seemed like every week there was another band of heavy rain clouds that scurried across the country dousing us with water. Just as the land started to dry our slightly another deluge would approach.
Consequently a lot of our crops were not planted or if they were planted have subsequently rotted away in the soaking ground. If you look around Northamptonshire you will see a lot of bare earth which is not good news for the farmers who rely on well planted winter wheat to give them a decent harvest the next year.
The bare ground also leads to soil wash off and leaching which can permanently damage field soil structure. Even well drained fields have been struggling to get the water away!
Unfortunately this kind of severe weather is likely to continue as the UK is battered with strong storms or dried out with unseasonally hot weather. As climate change takes hold British farmers are looking closely out how their farming practices need to change to be able to cope.
At Cranford Estates we are particularly interested in improving our soils by spreading organic material back into the ground whereever possible. This could take the form of farmyard manure from our neighbouring cattle farmer or the digestate which comes out of our own AD Plant. Organic material adds structure the soils and encourages worms to aerate the soil.
It is a long process but we are hoping that this will lead to strong soil structures across the estate and so a reduction in run off and nutrient leaching.