Sustainability – Wold Top Brewery




Our family has farmed 600 acres high on the Yorkshire Wolds for generations and our aim is to continue to do so! Sustainability is key, we want to work in balance with nature so we have and are always looking into new ways to look after our land and surroundings.

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We installed two wind turbines on site in 2011. These generate 95% of all our electricity, any excess is fed back into the grid.

We are currently working on initiatives and methods by which to store excess electricity (batteries etc) which is generated overnight when things are not running so we can use it during ‘non windy’ days.

All water used on site is drawn from our borehole. This goes down into the natural chalk aquifer that is under this part of the Wolds and takes the water from there. Apart from some monitoring every now and then it is untreated.

Naturally pure.

For the last 7 years we have been working towards a ‘no till’ approach to how we farm the land.Traditionally, after harvest, land would be ploughed, cultivated (with discs or harrows), drilled (seeds sown) and rolled.

We don’t do this.

Our fields are harvested and then immediately after this they are direct drilled with cover crops. These are plants such as radishes, phacelia, clover and buckwheat that give energy and nutrients back to the soil to replenish it.

After this crop has been naturally killed off by winter frosts, it composts down into the soil and we can then direct drill the barley/wheat seed back into the field as that year's crop.

Direct drilling means that we don’t plough or otherwise disturb the land. Only the top few centimetres of soil are moved by the drill rakes.

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The reasons behind this new approach are multiple.

Increasing soil health naturally avoids using excess chemicals and additives to increase plant health. We recently measured the organic matter in our soil bed and it has increased twofold over the last 5 years just by letting the chopped straw after harvest and these cover crops naturally compost down into the soil.

Using precision farming technology we can now pinpoint specific areas of the land which need extra help and therefore only apply extra help where it is needed. This helps reduce costs, but also reduces our use and dependence on fertiliser and other additions.

Every time a tractor drives across a field it generates and emits carbon dioxide. By only drilling once for cover crops and once again with the seed we reduce our carbon emissions. Two passes of the field rather than eight!

Soil sequesters carbon. It takes it in and stores it underground. By only disturbing the top few centimetres of soil with a direct drill we avoid releasing previously sequestered carbon from the soil. As would happen if a plough or other cultivator was used.

By improving soil health and structure, we are also helping to stabilise the land. So it can better cope with instances of extreme weather, like flooding for example. A more compact, higher quality soil will drain quicker, recover better from waterlogging and is also more stable, so won’t wash away as much.

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Establishing the farm as a ‘no till/regenerative’ farm means that for the brewery our carbon footprint is also reduced.

The aim is, at some point in the next few years, to be able to say our barley is carbon neutral or even better, carbon negative, so that we can use this to offset other working practices that may not be so easily made carbon neutral.

Over the whole farm our aim is to work in balance with nature, so we grow trees and hedges to offset the carbon footprint, we plant areas for birds and wildlife, we consider the bees that are essential for the pollination of the crops and we use crop rotations to keep the soil in good health.

We live, work and play in a wonderful area of Yorkshire and want to maintain this balance for future generations. Hence growing our own barley in the most sustainable way we can, sourcing our power from the wind and drawing our water from underground aquifers deep in the chalk.

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As a company we also balance our impact on a broader spectrum too. We employ local people who contribute back into the local economy and we support other local businesses, venues and events as much as we can.

We have switched our bottle packaging to fully recyclable cardboard packaging, our shipper boxes and inners are also fully recyclable.

Our bottles are made from glass which is at least 50% recycled and our casks are returnable and reusable.

Refreshingly Sustainable and Perfectly Balanced.Wold Top.