24 August 2023
Back in May, our President, The Duke of Westminster along with 30 children from Riverside Primary Academy buried a pair of cotton boxer shorts from his beloved football team, Liverpool FC!
During the visit, the Duke helped the children learn about the incredible world beneath their feet and why it is important to look after and protect our soils, for our health, and the health of the planet.
How did the Duke's LFC pants fare? Watch the film below then scroll down for the results.
Lea Farm is part of the wider Grosvenor's Eaton Estate. Grosvenor's values are to produce high-quality, nutritious milk and cereal grains whilst adopting sustainable practices that benefit animal welfare and enhance the environment.
"At our farms, we're demonstrating how you can achieve a balanced system, whereby producing food at an affordable level but also enhancing the biodiversity around it. Achieving that balance is really difficult but it's our absolute number one aim. We have to produce food at an affordable level but that can't be the detriment of the wider biodiversity and ecosystems" ~ The Duke of Westminster
Some of the sustainable practices used on the Grosvenor farms include recycling manure into organic fertilisers to replenish soils; more than 80% of Grosvenor's animal feed is grown without the use of artificial fertilisers.
Conservation tillage - a set of agricultural techniques that aim to reduce soil disruption and maintain the soil's structure, fertility, and overall health - is practised to grow crops more sustainably and stop soil carbon from escaping into the atmosphere. In addition, Grosvenor's fields are planted year-round to help protect soils from erosion and recover nitrogen.
These initiatives have resulted in an increase of carbon in their soils, averaging 3%, almost double the UK average for cultivated soils.
Well, there's a short story to this. They had disappeared! However, what was discovered was a rich soil teeming with life and in particular some beautiful saprotrophic fungus mycelium.
Fungi are essential for maintaining a healthy soil. They play a crucial role in decomposing organic materials to release carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and phosphorus into both the soil and the atmosphere. And, amazingly, a recent study has discovered that fungi absorb over a third of Earth’s fossil fuel emissions.
There's a strong possibility that the methods practised on Lea Farm and the wider Eaton Estate have resulted in soils that are full of microbial life which support a healthy soil food web, resulting in no visible signs of the pants remaining.
The Country Trust’s wish is that every child has the opportunity to connect with the land that sustains us all. And we are already working hard to make this wish come true. Through Plant Your Pants we guided over 19,000 people on a journey of soil discovery and trained our team in how to bring soil to life. Over 20,000 children had a Country Trust Farm Discovery visit last year, and a further 30,000 children took part in our Food Discovery, Countryside Residential and Farm in a Box programmes.
The urgency and scale of our mission is growing but together we can empower the next generation to understand and care for our life support system. With your help, in 2024 we can provide soil focussed Farm Discovery days for 24,000 disadvantaged children, a first chance for many to get their hands in the soil. Every donation will make a difference but a gift of just £10 per month for a year will support four children to take that first step on a journey that could change their lives, that could even change the world.