Mole Valley Farmers’ ground breaking trial work looking at growing lupins as a source of homegrown, organic protein will appear on BBC One’s Countryfile, this Sunday, July 8.

Gloucestershire farmer and Countryfile presenter, Adam Henson will speak to Mole Valley Farmers’ Organic Feed Development Manager, Nigel Mapstone at Stantyway Farm on the Clinton Devon Estate to find out about the potential benefits of growing the crop.

Stantyway Farm is one of five farms in the South West growing lupins as part of a Mole Valley Farmers project run in conjunction with Innovative Farmers - a not for profit network that runs farm-based “field labs” on topics chosen by farmers. Innovative Farmers is run by The Soil Association and funded by several parties, including The Prince’s Charities.

Trial work began last year, with lupins grown on 12 sites. This year, three varieties of blue lupin have been drilled on five arable and livestock farms. At 33% crude protein, the grain is a high quality protein feed for growing animals and dairy cows.

The project has been designed to help address challenges surrounding sustainable sourcing of organic protein and to attempt to overcome the perception that lupins are difficult to grow. The ultimate aim is for Mole Valley Farmers to reduce their reliance on imported organic proteins and use British grown feed. The hope is that by proving the viability of lupins on British soils, farmers will be keen to grow the crop for Mole Valley.

Nigel says: “At this point, Mole Valley Farmers seems well on the way to demonstrating that organic lupins are a viable alternative cash crop for organic arable farmer. Although the yields will be much less than cereals, the value per hectare should be similar. And as the weight of the crop taken in less, the amount of nutrients taken out of the soil will also be reduced. As an added bonus, as they are a legume, the lupins should even put a bit of nitrogen back.”

Arable and beef farmer Sam Walker, from Stantyway Farm, believes lupins could have a significant role to play in his organic rotation, if they prove reliable. He will also be sharing his thoughts with Adam Henson on Sunday’s show.

Sam says: “Everyone is concerned with food miles. For me, Lupins also fulfil several objectives; It’s a good legume to put in the rotation and if I can get the yield right, the margin on it could be better than organic first wheat. I’m keen to improve soils and I think they could help with that. They’ve got a great big root and if they leave a nice, fine, crumbly, seed-bed, it may mean I can plough less.”

>> Tune in to Countryfile on Sunday 8 July at 7pm to see Adam Henson interview Nigel Mapstone about the lupins trial.