Nick Padwick

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No synthetic insecticides have been used at privately owned, 4,000-hectare north west Norfolk estate, Ken Hill farms, for 14 years.

Liquid fertiliser use has also been eliminated and granular fertiliser use has gone from 250 tonnes to just 25t, with the aim of being fertiliser-free by 2025.

Since arriving five years ago at a traditionally managed Norfolk estate, farm manager Nick Padwick has introduced a rewilding project, which is more than 400ha, including 200ha of woodland and 200ha of ex-arable land, which is currently being managed
by pigs, ponies and cattle.

Nick says: “A large expanse of fresh water, marsh and arable land is coming to the end of its first high-level fiveyear Countryside Stewardship scheme, which embraces all option that encourage biodiversity above and below the grounds.

After years of heavy machinery use, including ploughs and power harrows, Nick changed the system to no-till, no seed treatments and no fungicides, while focusing on soil biology and testing.

The collected data allows Nick to make informed decisions of what and when to plant crops and how to enrich the soil without the use of common inputs.

Yield is no longer the focus of the system. Instead he is concentrating on the sustainability of the soil and the land’s ability to produce crops for future generations.

He says: “The amount of soil life is crucial. The key is understanding what is present in the soil and what the crop needs or is missing, then through a process which may take many years, putting it back to help the soil regenerate and sustain crops with  minimal intervention.”