Sheepdrove is a 2,000 acre mixed organic farm in Berkshire. Approximately 60% of the land is devoted to livestock (sheep, cattle, pigs and poultry), with the remaining 40% used for arable farming (cereals, beans, borage and seed). In addition, the farm has a compost enterprise, a poultry-processing and butchery plant and a conference venue.
Description A sustainable water management project was implemented through a whole farm approach to water conservation. Sheepdrove investigated water usage and identified opportunities for efficiencies and potential cost-efficient solutions.
A sophisticated reedbed water treatment system was installed to treat all wastewater from the farm, staff cottages and conference centre. Waste water from the processing plant is treated through a Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) plant, before it enters the reedbed system.
The lake overflows to a willow plantation, before soaking back to the aquifer from which the farm abstracts. A research project by the Elm Farm Research Centre has shown that the water quality in the lake exceeds the Bathing Water Directive standards. The whole system supports a significant population of birds, fish and invertebrates.
Water is also removed from the lake for other uses, including pig wallowing, tree irrigation and compost production. This saves around 1626m3 of water each year, approximately 10% of the total water abstracted. To date, water efficiency measures have saved more than 1,600,000 litres.
The farm offices and the conference centre also have water-efficient appliances. These include waterless urinals (estimated to save 92 m3 per year), dual flush toilets and stop taps. The farm also has two new dewponds. As well as being locally important habitat sites, these allow livestock to be watered without using either mains or directly abstracted water.
Sheepdrove Organic Farm has won a number of awards including the SEEDA Sustainable Business Award 2006 and the Environment Agency Water Effi ciency Award 2005.