Duncan & Mary MacGregor

2021 Sustainable Farmer of the Year winner

Mill Farm,
MacGregor Farming Partnership,

For many farmers, producing food is the focus on their business. For Duncan and Mary MacGregor, however, feeding their farm has been central to their efforts of producing a sustainable, resilient and profitable enterprise.

The innovative couple have introduced a wide variety of measures onto their 1,000-acre organic beef, sheep and arable farm with the goal of feeding microorganisms in the soil, providing feed for beneficial insects, and increasing farm biodiversity.

Techniques include always leaving part of a field untouched to allow biodiversity to undergo its full lifecycle. Silage fields, for example, have strips left uncut to allow insects to complete their metamorphosis, while flower and grass margins are left uncut to provide winter food and hibernation habitats.

Meanwhile cultivated strips are installed in arable fields to provide food and habitats to insects and wildlife, and vegetable crops are planted with companion strips to buffer pests and disease.

To complement their system, the couple selected Poll Dorset sheep and Shorthorn cattle – native breeds which do well on clover leys, further adding to the farm’s biodiversity.


The environmental results on the farm – which is part of the RPA’s Sustainable Farming pilot and is currently completing its application for a five-year stewardship scheme –  have been significant. Rigorous testing has revealed better soil condition, increased biodiversity and an increase in the farm’s ability to store more carbon.

Just as importantly, however, the measures have also helped with the long-term business, putting the farm in a better position to face climate change and handle any reduction in subsidies, the couple says.

Duncan and Mary also like to believe they help educate and change peoples’ minds in becoming more open to accepting new practices to do with conservation and sustainability by being a living, working, successful farm laid open through farm walks.

They also work  with various organisations like the RiversTrust , FWAG and the University of East Anglia to create best practice.

The couple are looking forward to the opportunities that will come from further improvements to building the farm’s sustainability and resilience to economic and agricultural challenges.

At a glance:

  • 1,000-acre organic beef, sheep and arable farm
  • Focus on soil health and lifecycles to reduce the need for inputs and allow biodiversity to thrive
  • Introduced native breeds to complement their system