22 July 2024

Organic farm estate unveils series of net zero wins following period of investment

A CELEBRATED organic farm estate grew its reputation as a pioneer in sustainable business with a series of net zero triumphs including a move towards ‘regenerative agriculture’.

The 12,500-acre Rhug Estate, based near Corwen in North Wales, is renowned for its carbon neutral processes and ground-breaking systems.

Led by owner Lord Newborough, the award-winning Estate did even more to reinforce that reputation in the last 12 months, unveiling a series of green energy projects ranging from 4KW to 5MW – including wind, solar, hydro and heat pumps – and receiving plaudits for the international success of its Rhug Wild Beauty range, which uses ingredients foraged on site.

There was also a period of “significant investment” in measuring and monitoring their carbon footprint, as well as reducing emissions.

“Sustainability and protecting the environment is integral to the ethos of Rhug Estate,” said Lord Newborough.

“The significant investment we have made aims to improve carbon sequestration, reduce emissions and reach net zero across our varied and diverse portfolio, but this is just the start of our journey – we have so much more to do.”

Pivotal developments included fitting a hydrogen electrolyser to one of the Rhug delivery vans that travels to London twice a week, reducing exhaust emissions by up to 80%, and fuel combustion by 20%. In addition to that the utility vehicles used every day by shepherds and stockman were converted to gas, leading to huge savings on diesel.

Meanwhile, the cutting plant recently introduced an electrical forklift, replacing the original tractor used to move items around the site; staff have undertaken carbon literacy training to sharpen their knowledge on climate change; measures have been implemented to optimise the efficiency of livestock systems; recycling containers and processes have been upgraded, and the Estate now collaborates with the Too Good To Go scheme, a food waste app that enables customers to reserve and collect surprise food bags that would otherwise be thrown away if not sold.

However, one of the biggest steps was the introduction of ‘regenerative agriculture’ methods, transitioning to a rotational grazing system to support soil health, as well as improving the overall efficiency of livestock systems.

“These are a list of the things we are doing as we continue to raise standards while innovating and hopefully inspiring other organisations in Wales and beyond,” said Lord Newborough.

“We have promoted the use of organic and sustainable farming practices for more than 20 years, and as a result, our recent carbon footprint assessment confirmed we are carbon negative, which is an amazing achievement and makes me very proud of everyone here at the Estate.

“The result means on-farm carbon sequestration outweighs the total emissions associated with daily operations, a comparison being approximately 1600 tonnes of carbon (CO2e) each year, the equivalent to the emissions from 900 single flights to New York.”

He added: “From agroecology to efficiency, we constantly and consistently focus on all areas of the business, notably the farm shop, take away and drive thru, which led to an energy saving of 20,000kWh of electricity between September 2022 and September 2023, and a carbon saving of 4000kgCO2e.

“That has included utilising electricity from our own solar and wind energy generation and looking for opportunities to develop new systems on-site.

“In the last three years we have made remarkable progress. Through the gradual implementation of sustainable practices across all our businesses we have accomplished great change, and we continue to do so.

“We are constantly pushing ourselves to do even better, knowing that every effort we make contributes to a brighter and more sustainable future for the next generation.”

For more news and information, visit the website www.rhug.co.uk and follow them on social media at @rhugestate.

For more information on Wild Beauty, visit www.rhugwildbeauty.com or follow them on social media @rhugwildbeauty.