Cambridge University’s Park Farm is the latest site to join our growing network of LEAF Demonstration Farms, in recognition of its exemplary sustainable farming practices and commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of its dairy enterprise.
The University Farm has been operating in various locations around Cambridge since 1900. Park Farm is a commercial business and holds great historical significance to the University. It moved to Madingley in 1997 and has been a LEAF member since 2020.
With a dairy unit of 230 milking cows producing two million litres of milk per year, raising replacement heifers and a flock of 250 North Country mule sheep, the Farm provides a unique learning environment and teaching resource to the University’s Department of Veterinary Medicine. It is a meeting point for sustainable farming innovation, research, and application.
Minimising the carbon footprint of the Farm’s dairy enterprise has been a key driver for Dairy Manager Paul Kelly and Rural Surveyor Peter Wilderspin, who were both involved in our Nature-based Solutions project between 2021-2022. Solar panels have been installed on the farm and, since 2019 replacing inefficient lighting with fitted LED lights has resulted in a saving of 19 tonnes p.a. of CO2 in the dairy building alone. In 2020, the University Farm went much further with its sustainability aspirations by adopting a ten-year Sustainability Policy, supported by regularly updated implementation plans, based on science-based targets for carbon reduction. The Farm is committed to reducing the CO2e per litre of milk produced by 30% by 2030.
An anaerobic digestion (AD) plant has also been installed, with biomethane gas produced from it used to generate electricity for the livestock enterprises and digestate used to fertilise crops. Energy from the plant is monitored to assess efficiencies and cost savings.
With access to pioneering research and innovative technology such as robotic milkers, carbon calculators and telematics, the Farm is implementing Integrated Farm Management across the entire business, using the best of both traditional and modern farming methods.
“We are delighted to be joining the LEAF Network at such a significant time. As the farming industry continues to face unprecedented challenges, we can’t stand still. It is vital that we focus our attention on climate change solutions whilst working in harmony with the environment, maintaining high animal welfare standards and, crucially, communicating our actions and commitments.
“Even the smallest of changes can make a difference. From implementing new solar panels, LED lighting systems and an anaerobic digester for waste processing, to habitat creation and building soil organic matter percentage through regenerative soil practices, we continue to innovate and embrace new changes. By doing so, we have created a more circular farming system and continue to enhance economic sustainability."
“Park Farm is making impressive changes and commitments to meeting important climate change targets. They are an exemplar of best farming practice, showing what can be achieved through a multi-faceted and integrated approach to sustainability. On behalf of LEAF, it is an absolute honour to welcome them to the LEAF Network. Their forward-thinking, cutting-edge, and data-driven farming approaches through Integrated Farm Management will continue to shape the future of their dairy enterprise for the greater good.”
“Being part of the LEAF Network will enable Park Farm to communicate and collaborate with other farmers and the wider industry, driving forward net zero goals and a more sustainable farming future.”
Park Farm was officially launched as a LEAF Demonstration Farm on the 6th September 2023. Speakers at the event included Professor James Wood OBE - Alborada Professor of Equine and Farm Animal Science and Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine, Professor Ian Leslie, the University’s Chair of the Environmental Sustainability Strategy Committee, and Graham Matthews, Director of Estates.
To read more about Park Farm and the LEAF Network visit: https://leaf.eco/farming/leaf-...
To find out more about Park Farm’s involvement in LEAF’s Nature Based Solutions read our booklet here.