The Duchy of Cornwall’s rural estate extends over 52,000 hectares in the South West of England and includes farmland, woodlands, rivers, coastlines and islands.
The Duchy aims to reach net zero by the early 2030s, years ahead of national and international targets, but gathering the accurate information it needs to drive change across such a large estate is a massive undertaking.
Downforce Technologies is working with the Duchy to address this challenge by providing data on its diverse landholdings. By providing accurate baselines and benchmarks, we are helping Duchy farm tenants improve soil health, increase productivity and adopt sustainable farming practices.
The project started by concentrating on the Duchy’s ‘Focus Farms’. We used Downforce Technologies’ six years of records to provide data on historic soil organic carbon and establish how successful different management practices have been in delivering soil health and carbon sequestration.
We then embarked on a larger scale analysis of the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago off the coast of southwest England. This comprehensive survey covered approximately 1,600 hectares, including 37 tenant farms, as well as non-farmed areas and hard-to-access uninhabited islands.
The remote accessibility of Downforce Technologies’ source data meant such complex terrain could be studied as speedily and effectively as any mainland site.
The project has given the Duchy and its tenants a new level of insight into soil health and potential, providing detail of what is working where and helping drive management programmes to improve the soil and deliver more sustainable food production.
The next step is a three-year programme across the whole 52,000-hectare estate, providing soil carbon metrics for each of the Duchy’s farms alongside soil sampling and whole farm carbon footprinting to help achieve the estate’s net zero ambition
"The Duchy of Cornwall’s plan to reach net zero involves harnessing the power of nature, and the insights from Downforce Technologies help us to do exactly that.”
-Matthew Morris, Land Steward, Duchy of Cornwall