With over 50 attendees, the FWAG Farm Walk at Deepdale Farm on the 3rd of May was a fantastic start to this year’s event season.
Everyone was in awe of the beauty of the North Norfolk landscape and perhaps reflected how fortunate we all are to be able to live in this part of the world. A rather fresh easterly wind kept everyone’s concentration sharp whilst listening to the speakers at each interval during the walk.
Deepdale Farm’s 650 acres slope gently towards the North Sea coast overlooking Brancaster Staithe Harbour and Scolt Head Island, giving the most spectacular views to those working the land or the walkers. Apart from arable fields, the farm has 45 acres of woodland and species rich meadows. The gradient of the land was however the main cause of flash flooding and sediment run-off causing damage to a property at the bottom of the slope during the heavy rains of 2020. It then became apparent to Anna and Fiona, sisters who oversee the farm management, that the soil on their land was in a poor state after almost four decades of intensive root vegetable production. A decision was made to start remedial works and improve soil health ensuring future sustainability of the land.
The main priority was to mitigate flood risk and prevent a repeat of the 2020 event; with the help of Norfolk Rivers Trust as well as Norfolk Rivers Internal Drainage Board, a series of interconnected sediments traps were created to capture run-off. A grass buffer strip with trees was also planted in the “danger zone” to help slow down any future water flow.
Shortly after, the farm begun its organic conversion and was entered into Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier, where 60 percent of it has been put aside purely for nature and wildlife through a number of different options with AB8 flower rich margins and plots dominating. There are around 2km of beetle banks! The remaining land is divided into 5 ha plots for combinable crops and clover leys in rotation. Cover crops are used to ensure continuous soil cover. The efforts so far have already proven successful as there is no longer sediment run-off and only clean water reaches the bottom of the hill during heavy rainfalls, showing how responsive soils can be to change in management.
The evening was concluded with a hearty meal prepared by a local caterer, washed down with a delicious, locally brewed beer alongside a jolly chat in a barn. We give thanks to Norfolk Rivers Trust for sponsoring the food, and look forward to seeing you all at the next walks.