Farming at Wistow

The emphasis at Wistow in recent years has been to encourage diverse farming interests whilst conserving the scenic beauty of the countryside. Traditionally, the rolling farmland was lined with "ridge and furrow" pastures and tranquil water meadows, ideal for fattening livestock. Much of this grassland still remains, some of it protected under Stewardship schemes, but advances in drainage and the desire for self-sufficiency in cereal production resulted in sales of turf (even to Wembley Stadium in the 1960's) and more intensive arable cropping.

Wheat is the most productive crop on these heavy, clay loam soils, with oilseed rape, beans, maize, and barley grown in rotation on some fields. The continuing EU Agricultural reforms, are likely to offer further environmental benefits in the farming system, such as grassland strips around arable fields and hedge cutting every two years.

The area was ravaged by Dutch Elm disease in the 1970's, with many thousand dead trees felled and replaced with mixed hardwoods such as oak, ash, cherry and lime. Mercifully, past generations had ensured a varied woodland picture with many mature parkland trees, woods and avenues surviving the tragic loss of the Common Elm. As in any living world, woodland regeneration continues on the Estate, with selective thinning and felling balanced by replanting of indigenous species. Many miles of new hedges have been planted at Wistow in the last 40 years, and their elder relatives are rejuvenated by skilled laying and trimming to ensure that the countryside that we all love is largely preserved for the foreseeable future.