Farming at Holkham
The Holkham Farming Company
Today, a total of 3,495 hectares of estate land are managed by Holkham Farming Company Ltd which was set up in 1996 to act as a contractor service for the seven in-house family farms and which cover 2,300 hectares of arable land.The remainder of the land is under agri-environment, game and conservation. Prior to 1996, the in-house farms were run as individual units.The farming company operates from its base at Bunkers Hill, Egmere, where a central grain store, offices and farm workshop are located. Holkham Farming Company employs 15 full-time members of staff.
The farming company operates on a stubble to stubble basis for the small farms, this way fertiliser seed and agrochemical can be purchased in bulk to minimise output costs on a tonne or per hectare basis. The farming company is also responsible for buying all of the machinery and is able to minimise its cost of production for the in-house farms by spreading the costs over the 2,300 hectares. Increased horse-power and machinery width ensures effective land and time management and modern technology allows the farming company to be more efficient, with higher output. On-board computer and GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) systems monitor accurate work i.e. auto-shutoff sprayers, field mapping and variable seed rates.
Holkham Farming Company grows an old variety of winter barley called Maris Otter which makes the malt that gives flavour to real ale. It also grows two other varieties of winter barley: Flagon and Venture, which produce a malt that goes into lagers. North Norfolk’s spring barley is especially sought after by local brewers and maltsters and in 2013 Holkham, with trader Dewing Grain, secured a contract to supply 50% of the malting barley used by world famous Suffolk brewers, Adnams of Southwold. Barley also goes into the production of malt at Munton’s Malt in Stowmarket which makes the malty, honeycombed centres of Maltesers. Oilseed rape is harvested in late summer and the crushed seeds release oil that is used in numerous foods for both humans and animals. Some rape seed oil may also go into bio-fuels. Holkham’s winter wheat is predominantly used in the feed wheat market and is also used for malting, especially for whisky. Our sugar beet is sent to British Sugar’s Norfolk Wissington factory to make sugar. The waste heat from the production process at Wissington also helps grow some 25% of British tomatoes. The recently upgraded grain store facilities at the farm’s base at Egmere has allowed Holkham Farming to guarantee storage and drying contracts with third party storage.