Grosvenor Farms win big at prestigious industry awards
Winners of the Cream Awards 2023
Chester-based Grosvenor Farms has been named overall winner of the UK’s premier dairy industry awards – the Cream Awards – and has been recognised for reducing the carbon footprint of its activities, improving carbon sequestration and enhancing biodiversity.
The Cream Awards, which are organised by British Dairying magazine, is an annual event which showcases some of the brightest and best people, businesses and innovations in the industry.
At this year’s event, which was held on Thursday, 7 September, Grosvenor Farms, based on Grosvenor’s Eaton Estate, near Chester, was voted the overall winner of the Cream Awards 2023, also receiving the Climate Positive Agriculture Award.
The Grosvenor Farms entry demonstrated clearly the very close link between improving the farm environment and increasing business profitability and sustainability
David Craven, Dairy and Infrastructure Manager at Grosvenor Farms, said: “We have focused on a whole farm approach which has driven our strategy for the last 10 years. We are now typically producing 32,000,000 litres of milk - enough for 430,000 people every day - as well as grains, in a proven financial and sustainable way. It is no coincidence that having a profitable farming system also corresponds with us reducing our carbon footprint.
“Our primary objective is to profitably produce safe and nutritious food while taking full account of the needs of our environmental, social and regulatory responsibilities. We are committed to farming in a way that cares about people, animals and nature in the long term, and combines best practice ethical and scientific know how with industry leadership.”
Grosvenor Farms was established in 1974 and today extends to 2,340 hectares.
The state-of-the art dairy unit – Lea Manor Farm – is home to 2,600 dairy cows living in specially designed barns that are larger than typical industry standards to improve their comfort and welfare.
The barns provide shelter for the cows, allowing for plenty of natural light and air flow, space for them to roam and access to high quality food and water as they choose.
Arable farming is balanced with increasing biodiversity. Field margins, headlands, crop rotations and cultivation are managed to minimise the impact on the environment.
Cropping includes 800 hectares of arable, 450 hectares of three-year grass leys, on a multi-cut system and 350 hectares of maize.
“Cropped areas are optimised for food production and less productive areas are optimised for habitat protection and enhancement,” added David.
“The synergy between the dairy and arable operations allows regular inputs of organic manure before and during the growing season — promoting healthy soil and providing a valuable source of plant nutrients. The farm average soil organic matter on cultivated land is just over 5.25%, a good indicator of a resilient farming system.”
Grosvenor Farms manage approximately 12% of the land to support greater biodiversity and improve natural habitats. In recent years, they have planted 24,000 hedge plants, over 100,000 trees and restored over 50 ponds.
Particular attention is paid to “green corridors” to encourage wildlife. The farm runs one higher tier stewardship scheme focused on wetland and one mid-tier scheme focused on arable and rotational grassland areas.
A key feature of the farm is the water meadows alongside the River Dee SSSI and its tributaries which form some of the best low lying wetlands in the north-west of England. These areas are managed with late-cut haylage to promote nesting sites and feeding areas to promote threatened species.
Wetland habitat creation and restoration has also taken place to maintain the species-rich meadows along the River Dee floodplain. Over 30 water control features have been installed, including dams, swales and scrapes, to benefit water holding and flood mitigation. These are particularly good for both breeding and wintering birds such as lapwing, snipe, reed bunting, redshank and numerous duck.