03 May 2024

We are rising to the challenge through our regenerative land management strategy across the estate, focusing on practices that improve the health of our soils and enhance overall biodiversity on our estate.

At Leckford Estate, our dedication lies in shaping a sustainable future.  Guided by five core principles, we prioritise regenerative farming practices that impact all aspects of our land management. Our focus on biodiversity, soil health, water conservation and carbon neutrality underscores our awareness of the interconnectedness of all life within our farm and across the estate.

We minimise soil disturbance through methods such as cover cropping and no-till farming, maintaining year-round plant cover to preserve moisture and prevent erosion. Biodiversity is also a key focus, with diverse crops, wildlife habitats, and livestock grazing to promote environmental balance and resilience. The Waitrose & Partners Farm prioritises these practices to ensure the land's long-term health and produce sustainable, delicious food.

Our regenerative farming approach is centred on five key principles:

  1. We plant our field crops with minimal soil disturbance, opting for strip-till or no-till methods. This not only enhances soil health but also reduces diesel consumption significantly by minimising soil movement, as our tractors are using less energy by moving less soil.

2. We have implemented a 12 year crop rotation plan, which creates more crop diversity, allows us to reduce our inputs of synthetic fertiliser and crop protection products and helps build up soil organic matter.   This approach will increase our system resilience over time. 

3. Through the design of the crop rotation plan and the inclusion of short duration cover crops, we avoid leaving bare earth, which helps protect our soils from erosion and our groundwater from nutrient leaching.

4. Not only do we strive to avoid bare soil, but we also aim to keep plants growing in the soil for as long as possible throughout the year.  This practice not only helps protect soil structure, it supports and enhances soil health, as the presence of living roots helps nourish the microbial life within the soil and facilitates nutrient cycling.

5. Soil nutrient cycling is significantly enhanced by incorporating livestock into crop rotation. Grazing on herbal leys and winter cover crops enhances natural soil fertility and reduces our reliance on bought fertilisers. Our livestock also play a vital role in managing biodiversity in un-cropped areas such as our water meadows and botanically rich chalk grassland.

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