Replacing fertiliser with manure

This season’s harvest results showed how valuable organic matter is in boosting yields.

“If we’d have mapped them I’m sure they would have followed exactly where we had used sewage sludge and chicken manure,” says Mr Blatchford.

So next season he aims to double cattle and sheep numbers to provide more home-produced crop nutrients and boost supplies for the estate’s specialist meat-selling enterprise.

A 10,000 free-range poultry unit for home-slaughtered table birds, using all home-grown rations, is also anticipated.

“We’re planning to replace as much increasingly expensive fertiliser as we can with manure.”

For the poultry, which will be housed in polytunnels, the priority will be simplicity.

“We’ll want to avoid the trap that caught out some early outdoor pig producers tempted away from low-cost housing. We must work on the KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle.”

The limited market for rare-breed pig meat means numbers at Cranborne will stay at about 300.

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