flooding on the rural estateFlooding - Chris Rollason, Deputy Park Manager

Lots of rain, high river levels and vast amounts of flooding has been the main theme over the past few months. Much of Nene Park’s Rural Estate is floodplain and it has certainly been doing its job recently.

Floodplains are important natural resources for a number of reasons. They store water when rivers are in flood and help alleviate flooding in areas further downstream where there could be a risk of damage to property and infrastructure. Floodplains can also be a haven for wildlife. Well managed floodplain meadows can support a range of plant and animal species, providing an important and biodiverse habitat. Nutrient rich floodplains can also provide excellent grazing for livestock in summer.

Although the water has brought some benefits it has also caused us some disruptions, not least regarding access to the Rural Estate. Although contractors did begin work to repair the breach in the riverbank near Water Newton lock, the flooding has unfortunately meant that the work has had to be put on hold for the time being. Machinery is currently being stored on site so work should continue again as soon as ground conditions allow. The work should take around 2 weeks to complete so access along the riverside path will hopefully be restored soon.

craig and ryan baxter shared farmersShare Farming - Craig and Ryan Baxter, Farmers

It’s fair to say that the establishment of our own share farming operation on Nene Park Trust’s Rural Estate, has not been without challenge. From sourcing livestock amidst a global pandemic, to the increasingly familiar challenges of exceptionally wet weather, flooding and snow!

Through careful monitoring of the flooding, we have managed to keep the sheep on dryer ground and safe from the reaches of flood water. However, in a grass based system, snow poses a very obvious challenge – countless days have been spent taking hay to the flock to keep them in reasonable shape as the spring approaches. So, hay made when the sun shone has been very quickly consumed when the snow has fallen!

The rams have been in with the ewes and later this month, the flock will be pregnancy scanned using ultrasound equipment. This will happen on site, and it is with excitement we await the outcome, to see a glimmer of what the spring on the Rural Estate will bring.

bug hotel installed at woodlandsWoodlands - Scott Bryan, Woodlands Groundsman

COVID has affected sport at Woodlands with the football season now left in limbo. The stop in play has allowed the pitches to recover well and for other jobs to be carried out including installing some bat boxes and a bug hotel (pictured).

The wet weather has limited the time on the ground, but we have carried out essential aeration work and managed to top dress some heavy worn areas.

Unfortunately dog walking has been a big issue with lots of fouling (not the football kind) on the pitches. I continue to stop groups from outside of Castor trying to play on the pitches.

I have also been assisting the Trust’s development team working on the plans to install new permanent facilities at Woodlands by organising surveys and meeting the appointed architect on site. Hopefully we will be in a position to share the plans soon.

To find out more about the Rural Estate please click here.