Sponsored by: Morrisons

The Wortley Family

O.W. Wortley & Sons, Holmebrink Farm, Norfolk

Maintaining soil health and securing irrigation supplies has been central to business expansion for O.W. Wortley and Sons.

4,000 acres are currently farmed at Holmebrink, Thetford, overseen by directors, brothers, David and Andrew Wortley alongside David’s son, farm manager, Paul Wortley, his brother (Matthew Wortley) and Andrew’s sons (Chris, Daniel and Samuel Wortley). Cropping consists of potatoes, wheat, sugar beet, parsnips, maize, barley and oil seed rape.

Considerable investment has been made over the years, specifically in the farms water supply system, beginning with the installation of a bore hole in the 1960’s to supply irrigation water to an otherwise unproductive 90 acre block of land.

The investment has continued over the last 55 years, involving further abstraction licences and winter storage reservoirs being built which has enabled the business to form partnerships with nearby farms around water supply.

Typically neighbouring farm land is rented, supplied with irrigation to grow produce to sell in return for a rental income, access to irrigation and potentially diversification to their crop rotation.

This has seen the family work alongside farmers in the area for several years, including a 25-year agreement with one farm around the installation of a reservoir and, as an area of the business the family take pride in, is an area they hope to expand with more in the future.

Healthy crops

Reliability of supply to customers has been the biggest factor in the growth of the business, thanks to a wider range of crops now in the ground grown via a healthy crop rotation system to secure the long term success and sustainability of the business.

“Prioritising a healthy crop rotation system alongside this growth is important to us to secure the long term success and sustainability of the business.

“Cereals are grown within rotations to keep soil healthy and maintain sustainable, long term rotations and selected fields are licenced to specialist growers of crops like onions and carrots.

“The use of cover and catch crops is also used to improve, repair and maintain soil health and condition on the farm, typically in the form of fodder raddish and sometimes combinations of cover crops like rye and vetch.”