Over the farmers hedge – Early Summer 2013


Now that spring has arrived three weeks late, the crops are romping away. Around Grantchester mostly wheat can be seen with some oilseed rape towards the M11. The slow start to the growing year will put harvest times into August instead of July for the oilseed rape and late August for the wheats. After the struggle with crop establishment in the soggy, cold autumn, yields are expected to be on the low side again.


The establishing Trumpington Fen wetlands are proving popular for the lapwings with 5+ nests seen and more than 13 birds spotted at the last count by BTO. An estimated 11 occupied nests have also been counted at the heronry site towards Newnham, one more than last year.

Grey Partridge nesting  – An Appeal to Dog Walkers

The grey partridge is a RSPB Red Listed species, meaning “it is in serious decline and is a globally threatened species”.  It is a grey, plump bird with a distinctive orange face, which chooses to nest in the margins of cereal fields.  The nesting season for these birds lasts until late June. Through habitat establishment, predator control and a winter feeding programme grey partridges are currently widespread on the Estate. In order to minimise nest disturbance by dogs, please would all dog walkers keep their dogs on a lead around the crops until the end of June.

A keen bee keeper since childhood, David Knott has lost 7 of his 10 hives over this long winter. He was aware that his bees were not feeding as they should, but there were no obvious signs of mites or pathogens. David is keeping abreast of developments regarding the EU 2 year ban on the use of neonicotinoids and how it will affect the farm. Neonicotinoid pesticides are fairly new nicotine-like chemicals that are applied as seed treatments, where the seed is coated before planting, protecting the young plant from insects determined to feed on it.  The chemicals act on the nervous systems of insects, but present a lower threat to mammals and the environment than many older sprays. The lack of seed treatment will affect the growing of oilseed rape next year and could increase the number of chemical sprays required on the emerging crops next year.


300 ewe lambs have taken up summer residence on Trumpington Fen opposite the meadows and Angelika’s Red Poll cattle have arrived on the meadows. There will be no new calves this year as their presence caused concern last year. Red Poll cattle, bred for their meat rather than dairy herds, are known to be particularly easy natured and well suited to conservation grazing. Please note; if your dog is pursued by any cows, just let go of the lead and don’t run yourself. The cattle might pursue playfully rather than for any threatening reasons.


You might have seen that behind the village car park our first willow coppice harvest has taken place. Known as short rotation coppice (SRC), it is part of over 11 hectares we grow for biomass fuel production. Half the crop will be cut every second year, usually after defoliation. The crop will produce around 150 tonnes of woodchip this time after drying, a process which takes around 8 months. It is then ready for use in local biomass boilers which, in time, the Estate intends to install.


Thirty Trumpington and Grantchester residents filled the trailer for our second neighbour’s farm walk on April 19th. We were blessed with a sunny, mild spring evening for the tour of the farms and Trumpington Fen. We had lots of positive feedback and the children filled their pockets with wheat grain, sticks and other ‘treasures’.  As a result of this walk we are in talks with Hills Road 6th Form College Biology department about an annual project to monitor the Trumpington Fen wetland establishment.

Our next neighbour’s farm walk will be Friday 5th July at 6pm. It will take the same route to Cantelupe Farm and Trumpington Fen showing developments, wildlife and discussing crops. Please register your interest at info@trumpingtonestate.com or call Debbie on 01223 841101.

On 23rd June at Trumpington Hall all are invited to a charity Dog Show to raise funds for the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. With classes like ‘waggiest tail’ and demonstrations of flyback and dog agility, it really should be a ‘fun day for all the family and their dogs’. Tickets on the gate.

This year’s 33rd Cambridge Film Festival will host summer screenings to include Movies on the Meadows at Spring Lane again this year. The dates for your diary are the bank holiday weekend of 24th and 25th August.  The following weekend at Spring Lane is the annual Grantchester Fair on August 31st and September 1st, this year featuring a charity Companion Dog Show in aid of Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust.


Your comments and questions are welcome at www.trumpingtonestate.com


Richard, David, Debbie and all the team at Trumpington Farm Company

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