Approximately 70% of estate land is farmland (including hedgerow and farm tree elements), with a third of this managed in-hand or as share farms. The remaining land is tenanted across 33 holdings.
The Estate engages with its farming tenants on all aspects of responsible land management, and encourages entry into agri-environment schemes. The Estate recognises that the delivery of ecosystem benefits will be one of the foundations of government continuing to support agriculture in the future.
Estate land is also allocated for community use, providing allotments for schools, families and gardeners in many towns and villages. Community sports fields account for around 200 acres of Estates land.
Clinton Devon Farm Partnership (CDFP) is the in-hand farming operation of the Clinton Devon Estates. Situated in the Otter Valley. The 1100ha farm is under organic management audited by Organic Farmers & Growers. The principal focus of the business is organic milk production, with forage crops grown to support the dairy herd.
The Farm’s predominant soil type is a sandy silt loam, very free draining. This means that though versatile for cropping it is very prone to leaching, erosion and capping. With the underlying geology in the Otter valley, our management approach is hugely important to South West Water as it supplies 40% of East Devon’s water from ground water abstraction. The Farm has nine SWW boreholes within its boundary which are directly influenced by farming activities.
Clinton Devon Estates have appointed Velcourt to have operational and financial control of the in-hand farming business of CDFP. Velcourt are currently implementing a three-year management plan, initially concentrating on the farm infrastructure and continual improvement of animal management and welfare.
The dairy herd is split between two farms, Otter farm and Dalditch farm. Annually, these farms produce 5.4 million litres of milk each year.
We also operate a fresh organic milk vending machine in the nearby village of Otterton, by the Otterton Mill visitor centre. This is refilled daily and the milk is pasteurised on site at Otter Dairy. The refrigerated machine was set up in an effort to reduce food miles, waste, and connect the farm with the local community. It holds 50 litres of milk and customers can purchase a re-useable, recyclable glass bottle, or bring their own container.
How we manage the farmed environment is very important to both CDFP and the Estate. We in the first year of a Countryside Stewardship Mid-Tier agreement that is aimed at water and soil quality, and wider biodiversity. We are changing our farming structure and working practices so we can have a positive impact on the environment.
A recent change in our approach was to remove all cropping from the Otter river valley and reinstate as grazing grass. This will be the best method of preventing soil loss and nutrient run off. It also compliments the farm plan by extending the dairy grazing and young stock area.
We are voluntarily increasing the area of bird seed mixes and wild flowers so that we can manage them to best suit the environment. A range of environmental and biodiversity Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are being agreed with Velcourt to ensure that whilst improving productivity and operational performance of the dairy operation we also increase our environmental performance. The aim is to have a balanced scorecard which supports a viable and sustainable business model.
Our holdings comprise 30 tenanted farms, two share farms and two in-hand farms. Our tenant farms range in size from 150-acre dairy holdings to 750-acre mixed units.
Increasingly, our tenant farms are choosing to diversify by bringing additional income to the farm from a range of enterprises including B&B, horse livery and industrial storage. In our commitment to a viable farming community we provide full support for enterprises such as these when they are based on sound business models and do not compromise the core agricultural business.
The terms and conditions of each agricultural tenancy are specific to the location and nature of the property and set out the responsibilities of both the tenant and Clinton Devon Estates.
The majority of tenancies will fall into two types – those agreed before 1 September 1995 known as 1986 Act tenancies, and those agreed after 1 September 1995 known as Farm Business Tenancies.
More information on these can be found here: