On the 2nd June, 2011 Garford Farm Machinery staff were lucky enough to visit HRH The Prince of Wales, Duchy Home Farm in Gloucestershire.
Greeted by Mr David Wilson, the Farm Manager at Broadfield Farm, staff had a very informative talk on the development of organic farming practices over the years at the Duchy Home Farm.
The Highgrove Estate was bought by the Duchy of Cornwall in 1980, consisting then of three blocks of land, totalling 340 acres immediately around the House. Broadfield Farm (420 acres) was added in 1985 and David Wilson appointed manager. The conversion to an organic farming system began in 1986. Stock and machinery were bought, a grain store erected and more land added in 1989, 1991 and 2005, to make up the current in-hand total of 1,120 acres. Over the last 13 years a further 800 acres of share farmed land in five separate agreements have also been added bringing the total area farmed to over 1900 acres.
The initial approach to conversion was cautious and gradual, but in 1990 His Royal Highness decided the whole farm should be converted. The sheep flock was converted to organic management by 1991 and the dairy stock by 1993. Milk yields improved and economic performance was acceptable even before premium prices became available. The whole farm obtained organic symbol status in 1996. The estate now comprises three areas of land around Tetbury; Broadfield Farm to the north east, land at Doughton to the southwest and a small block at Westonbirt.
Garford Farm Machinery was hugely grateful for the time taken to show us around the Duchy Home Farm which was fascinating and extremely enjoyable. With the elimination of various herbicides already in operation and a government steer to increase croppage by a further 40% by 2015, the Duchy Home Farm was certainly a showcase for organic farming methods.