In the fields to the east you will see rotations of wheat. These rotations are important to prevent the build-up of plant disease, reduce soil erosion, and if legumes are planted, will allow essential nutrients, such as nitrogen compounds, to fertilise the soil. These fields contains Soissons winter wheat. This is sown late into the Autumn and still matures early. This characteristic is particularly important following a vegetable crop, as the vegetables are often harvested later, pushing back the next sow.
If you look towards the A1 the farm are also trialling sugar beet, with 2023 as their first ever season. The sugar beet is grown on contract for British sugar and will be delivered to the factory at Bury St Edmunds. Planting usually takes place around the end of March, once soil temperatures start to rise.
The harvesting of sugar beet is unusual, and very different to crops such as wheat. Cereal crops ripen and then reach a point where they stop growing (senescence). However, sugar beet continues to grow, increasing its sugar content the longer it remains in the ground. Unlike wheat, there is no set harvest date, so the farm will be looking to harvest at some point between September 2023 and March 2024- a lot bigger harvest window than other crops around!
Looking towards the east, although not visible due to the crop and surrounding trees, there lies the remains of a sand pit. An essential building material formed from the underlying geological mix of sand and gravel. To find out more about the history of sand pits in Greensand Country, visit The Sand Museum Virtual Archive.
By the side of the Beeston fields interpretation board, you can see a large lump of sandstone. This iron-rich sandstone forms the Greensand Ridge, and has historically been an important building material across the area, with extensive use in churches and walls across Greensand Country. To find out more about the sandstone geology of the area, click here.