Deepdale Farm

Deepdale Farm is a family-run farm at the heart of the North Norfolk coast. The farm overlooks Brancaster Staithe Harbour, Scolt Head Island and the salt marshes.

Within the geographical location of the North Norfolk coast, Deepdale Farm, which is owned and run by the Borthwick family, is one of a handful of farms using organic practices. In 2020, the farm moved to predominantly organic farming, alongside some regenerative farming practices. The first organic crops will be harvested in 2023.

Not only does the farm focus firmly on enhancing biodiversity and farming with nature, but it also opens its doors to the public via conservation volunteering days and guided walks.

The farm itself grows combinable crops – braley, wheat and beans. For the future, the family are looking to introduce livestock to enhance their regenerative farming practices.

How Deepdale Farm is growing its natural capital

60% of Deepdale Farm is managed for wildlife, through a mid-tier Countryside Stewardship scheme. Crops are grown in 5ha plots around the farm; these are surrounded by features for wildlife.

Across the farm there are 75ha flower-rich plots – with a minimum of four species of grass and 10 species of flowering plants. This is providing a source of pollen and nectar for insects, and cover for other animals. These are cut once early in the year and again after flowering has finished. The cut material is ideally removed, to keep soil nutrient levels from getting too high, which would discourage the flowers and allow the grasses to dominate.

There are 45ha cultivated margins, which are cultivated once a year in the spring or autumn. This includes the margins around cropped plots. These areas are then left for the rest of the year. This provides a home for arable plants and the species that depend on them for food or nesting.

A 20ha wild bird seed mix provides a mix of flowers which is left uncut over winter – the flowers, such as sunflowers, set seed and provide a food source for a range of farmland birds at the start of winter.

2km beetle banks – ploughed banks in fields divide cropped plots and are sown with tussocky grasses, wild carrot and fennel, to provide habitat for beneficial predatory beetles and other invertebrates, as well as cover for farmland birds.

Managing these habitats serves several functions:

  • They support a wide range of farmland wildlife from pollinators and other invertebrates to birds and small mammals
  • They provide year-round green cover, shielding soils from erosion
  • They look great and make people happier
  • They support populations of pollinators and predatory beetles that help pollinate our crops and reduce crop pests

Listen to Farming social Hub’s interview with Nathan Nelson.  Starts at  41.30 mins 
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