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.
22nd to the 25th September 2021
17th to 20th June 2021
Royal Highland Show
19th to the 20th July 2021
Royal Welsh Show