In addition there together are a number of village properties and other land. Eight tenant farmers rent 4,000 hectares from the Estate.
The land managed by the Estate has recently converted to organic farming and there is a diverse range of crops grown at Sandringham. Those grown on lands managed by the Estate include wheat, barley, beans, oats and blackcurrants.
Sandringham is one of the 40 growers in the UK who produce blackcurrants for Ribena. Forty hectares of the fruit are grown and harvested at the end of July. The blackcurrants are tested for sugar content before they are picked and as the harvest is dependent on dry weather it can take between ten and 20 days to complete. Harvesting is a combination of both mechanical and manual and the picked fruit is taken to Somerset where it is processed into a range of Ribena products.
The Estate continues to evolve and as it now practices organic farming there are a number of recent changes to the farming landscape. As part of the new organic rotation, an outdoor-lambing sheep flock was established in 2018 to contribute to the farm’s aims of improving soil structure and fertility. A six year rotation now includes two years of a grass, clover, plantain and chicory mix, which fixes nitrogen in the soil for the following crops and provides a range of protein and mineral sources for finishing lambs.
1000 Aberfield ewes were sourced from a small number of high health flocks as the basis for the new enterprise and are mated with Abermax rams. We monitor growth rates and lambing success to select the best replacement ewe lambs to continue the expansion of the flock. Sandringham Estate produces organic, 100% forage fed lamb for the Sandringham Café & Coffee Shop, a local butcher and a premium retailer from July until March each year.
As part of the continuing diversification of the business the Estate is introducing an agroforestry enterprise. This is the practice of growing fruit trees or nut trees in corridors of arable crop land to encourage a wider range of habitat as well as harvesting the fruit. The initial trials will have plum, pear, sweet chestnut, cobb and and walnut trees growing in fields sown with organic oats undersown with white clover and a wildflower seed mix.
Other diversifications include fruit and vegetable being grown in the Walled garden for use in the Sandringham Café & Coffee Shop, and an experimental organic black truffle plantation.
Farming is at the forefront of many technological advances and the Estate embraces this with a number of innovations to ensure our farming practices are efficient, productive and safe. The recent introduction of satellite navigation for field operations including control trafficking and yield mapping are examples.