NSA Eastern Region visit to the Elveden Estate
Date: 15th June 2016
Location: Elveden Inn, London Road, Elveden, Thetford. IP24 3TQ
Eastern Region members were treated to a fascinating trip around the Elveden Estate, Norfolk for their summer walk recently. Agricultural farm manager Andrew Francis was our tour guide around the estate, spanning across 22,500 acres, 10,000 of which is farmland, making it the largest ring-fenced arable farm in lowland Britain. The farm specialises in the production vegetables especially potatoes, onions, carrots and parsnips, which follow a one in six crop rotation and unlike many arable farms they do not suffer from a black grass problem which is put down to this rotation, spring cropping and also hand rouging. The Estate grows 29 million onions each year and supplies major retailers 52 weeks of the year. The have built a state of the art storage facility which together with staggered and different plantings of seed and sets can achieve this.
Elveden lies in the geographical area known as Breckland and the soil structure consists of sand with flints, over a chalky till. The sand depth varies from 10 cm to 100 cm and is very free draining with low moisture holding capacity, hence there is a great need for irrigation across the land which is delivered by two reservoirs and 130 miles of pipework around the estate. Over 1,000 acres is in stewardship and Higher Level schemes.
Andrew Foulds, NSA Trustee, is a partner with Elveden Estate of Elveden Livestock, responsible for the various enterprises which utilise feed and land on the estate. During the tour, visitors saw a herd of 60 South Devon cows and calves as well as the flock of 600 Scottish Blackface ewes.