he theme for the visit was “Profitable Farming coupled with good Environmental Management” – well suited to our new Panel Chairman DrAlastair Leake of GWCT – Loddington. Our base was the Best Western Hotel Rembrandt, Weymouth, DT4 7JU – located on the main road (A354) as you enter the town.
Day 1 (Wednesday)
Assembled at The Garden Centre, Cranborne, BH21 5PP at 10.00 am (some 20 miles South of Salisbury).
After a welcome to the Cranborne Estate (owned by Lord Cranborne) by Oliver Middlemas the Agent we were introduced to the Farm Manager & Head Keeper. Travelling in trailers up to the “Chase” members saw large scale arable production with cover crops, special headlands, beetle banks & restored dew ponds – all encouraging grey partridge. The estate is part of a Cluster of local farmers adjacent to Martin Down – using their own funds to operate on a “landscape scale” – particularly encouraging the hare population.
Lunch was back at the rather special Garden Centre Restaurant.
Afternoon – The group returned to the open Downland in trailers & the 2000ac farm of Rob Shepherd – also consultant & Part time Lecturer at RAU. A splendid farmer & key member of the “Cluster”. 1600 outdoor sows – mostly finished indoors. 200 acres grassland in Reversion Scheme. Adjisted cattle on break crops. Participating in HLS to 2019. Rob and his family entertained us to a splendid tea in their garden with wonderful homemade cakes.
5.00 pm Members drove to the hotel in cars – for the AGM @ 6.00pm.
7.00 pm Assembled in Private bar to welcome our guests.
7.45 pm – Dinner in the Garden Room.
After Dinner Speaker – James Townshend FRAgS described the formation of Velcourt and briefed us on the farm visits the following day.
Day 2 (Thursday)
A full morning – hosted by Velcourt Farming, kindly arranged by James Townshend FRAgS. Full background details of each farming enterprise was made available to the group. Beyond commercial farming, a wide ranging discussions were held on a wide range of topics from optimum storage & use of digestate & slurry, green bedding for cows, soil management & reclamation post gravel extraction. Most of the land is in HLS.
9.00 am Woodsford Farm, Dorchester
11.15 am Evershot Farms, Melbury Dairy & AD Unit.
12.15 pm Depart for Melbury Park & a splendid lunch at Melbury House hosted by James and his wife Charlotte.
2.00 pm Depart for East Stoke – GWCT Fish Research projects on River Frome.
Met by Bill Beaumont – Research Manager. We visited the facilities in groups (Wellies were useful!)
3.30pm Coach returned to the hotel. Conclusion of visits.
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