Prince Charles: Why we went organic at Sandringham Estate

Documentary capture of HRH The Prince of Wales hedgelaying on Sandringham Estate, Norfolk. The Princ

Prince Charles hedge laying on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk - Credit: Simon Buck/Country Life Picture Library

Prince Charles has set out his organic vision for the future of farming, four years after taking over his family's Norfolk estate.

The Prince took over the management of Sandringham from his father, the late Duke of Edinburgh, in 2017.

Sandringham House. Pic: Archant

Sandringham House, which reopens to visitors on May 29 - Credit: Ian Burt

Shortly afterwards, the heir to the throne announced he would be turning the 21,000-acre estate's farming operations over to organic culture.

In an interview with Country Life magazine, he said: "Since the beginning of the 1980s, when I first had responsibility for managing some land in my own right at Highgrove, I have wanted to focus on an approach to food production that avoids the impact of the predominant, conventional system of industrialised agriculture, which, it is increasingly clear to see, is having a disastrous effect on soil fertility, biodiversity and animal and human health."

Documentary capture of the gamekeeping, grey partridges, wildlife and harvest Sandringham Estate, No

A hare poised on a field margin on the Sandringham Estate - Credit: Simon Buck/Country Life Picture Library

Prince Charles tells Country Life the future of humanity may depend on whether or not we can switch to more sustainable farming practices, such as those being employed at Sandringham.

He adds: "A transition to organic management means introducing measures that will allow ecosystems to flourish as Nature intended and to ensure that we always put back more than we take from the land."

By abandoning insecticides, the number of insects increases, meaning more beneficial pollinators and more food for the birds and other wildlife.

Tony and Ann Barratt, tenant farmers on the Sandringham estate. Sandringham Beef and Lamb which they

Native red poll cattle next to the remains of Appleton Church on the Sandringham Estate - Credit: James Bass

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‘However, this is only part of the story," adds Prince Charles. "We need to ensure that the land use is not only focused on food production, but that full consideration is given to providing habitats for wildlife."

He said the estate valued "ecological delivery", such as avoiding block cropping and providing trees, hedgerows, wildlife corridors, bird boxes and field margins,

Cattle numbers will increase to graze and fertilise the land, until the estate is home to a 500-head beef herd and 3,000 sheep.

Great Bircham Foods are expanding into wholesale/online retail. Pictured: pink footed geese and shee

Pink footed geese and sheep on the Sandringham Estate - Credit: Ian Burt

The Prince concludes: ‘Sandringham is no different to all British farming operations, which, in recognising that sustainable business and profitable business are one and the same, are going to have to be increasingly adaptable if they are going to find a way to thrive in the changing climate."

The full article appears in this week's issue of Country Life. 

Cover image from Country Life magazine, 19th May 2021. Pictured: HRH The Prince of Wales at the Sand

Cover image from Country Life magazine, May 2021, featuring Prince Charles - Credit: Simon Buck / Country Life Picture Library