March 9 2014 Latest news:
Michael Pollitt, Agricultural editor
Saturday, January 18, 2014
One of the largest blocks of grade one silt in the West Norfolk fens to be sold on the open market for some years has a price tag of £15.75m.
The 1,625-acre Nordelph Farm is an outstanding commercial arable holding, which lies in a single block between Downham Market and Wisbech.
The farm, which is on Upwell Fen, has large, level fields, which average about 60 acres.
The agent, Strutt & Parker, has indicated a guide price of £9,692 an acre or £15.75m for Nordelph Farm.
It does have two main ranges of buildings, with a total of 3,200 tonnes of grain storage in three buildings and a 1,300-tonne refrigerated box potato store with grading shed.
The entire farm can be irrigated and towards the southern end, it has a reservoir with 15m gallon capacity, filled by a winter licence.
There is a second licence for a further 60 million gallons of winter abstraction to a reservoir, which has not yet been constructed. The water levels on the farm are controlled by ditches which are graded to allow surplus water to be pumped into the Old Bedford River.
The ditches are also used to distribute water around the farm for spray irrigation.
It also grows a range of high yielding crops including wheat, potatoes, sugar beet, cereals and field vegetables and has a total of 1,585 acres of cultivated land.
The only main house, Woodhouse Farm, has not been occupied for many years and needs complete refurbishment but could be modernised as a possible home for a farm manager. There is a pair of semi-detached three-bedroom cottages, currently rented, for a total of £10,500 a year.
It is a continuous block of Grade 1 farmland extending to about 1,618 acres, of which 1,585 acres are croppable.
The land has good access roads as well as a good network of farm tracks.
The entire farm is classified grade one 1 by Defra and the soils include Wisbech Series, which is a marine alluvium providing deep, stoneless coarse silty soils.
The other soil types include stoneless clay soils, often over peat.
The irrigation licences for 15 million gallons, dates from last year. Both irrigation licences expire on March 31, 2025.
If a new reservoir was constructed, it would allow about a further 2,400 acre inches of water to be applied to the farm.
At Woodhouse Farm, there is a grain and machinery storage complex, with workshop and staff facilities surrounded by good sized areas of concrete and hard standing.
A 1,500-tonne grain store has drive-over ventilated floor while there is a second with 1,200 tonnes capacity.
The farm is offered for sale as a whole and it is currently contract farmed by a farmer near Downham Market but the agreement can be terminated on September 30, subject to six months’ notice.
A farm business tenancy was granted on January 16 last year to a local grower over about 96 acres for this year at a rent of £90,654 and for 99 acres in 2015 at £95,235.
The drainage rates for the year are currently set at £27,989 to the Middle Level Commissioners and £21,832 to Upwell Internal Drainage Board.
The farm also has 632.9 entitlements to the single payment scheme, which are registered, and included in the sale.
There are 6,941 tonnes of British Sugar contract entitlement which are included in the sale.
One of the largest blocks of pure bare land in Norfolk, which extended to 999.84 acres between Oxwick and Hempton, near Fakenham, was sold by the Marquess of Townshend’s Raynham estate for about £8m two years ago.
It made close to the £7.9m guide price to an East Anglia farming family, Abington Farms, in October 2012.
A “shoo-before-shooting” policy to control pigeons has been described by a leading Norfolk farmer as “completely bonkers”.