The environment has always been at the heart of everything we do and we are so proud to be officially certified by the United Nations as carbon neutral, highlighting our commitment to sustainability.


What is carbon neutral?

Carbon neutral means achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal (often through carbon offsets).

Many large companies and even governments have set carbon neutral goals, typically to achieve carbon neutrality within 10, 20 or even 30 years. Amazon have pledged to be carbon neutral by 2040, the UK government has said they aim to reach this milestone by 2050 and Delta, an American company, have pledged to become the first carbon neutral airline in the next 10 years.

All of these companies have given themselves plenty of time, which can be needed for big corporations. However, we knew that something needed to be done sooner than this. Thanks to our LEAF Marque audits, we have been monitoring our emissions for many years so were in a great position to become carbon neutral a lot sooner. Read on to find out how we became carbon neutral…


How did we become carbon neutral?

The first step was measure. This involved us looking at every part of our business, from each employee’s commute to work, to the amount of electricity used in our office and factory, to the fertiliser used on our fields. We calculated the greenhouse gas emissions from each and this gave us our carbon footprint.

We then signed up to the United Nations Climate Neutral Now Initiative Pledge. This pledge showed our commitment to measure, reduce and offset our carbon emissions. This pledge has been signed by many other companies and governments that are prioritising our environment and making a meaningful difference.


carbon neutral now logo


After measure, the next step was reduce. We are constantly working to reduce our emissions and through our LEAF farming practises, we are able to accurately measure this and continue to reduce them. Some of the ways we have reduced our emissions are:


– The installation of solar panels on our barn roofs in 2018 which now produce 50% of our total yearly electricity. In the summer months, we are producing a huge 80% of our electricity from the solar panels!

– We have dramatically reduced our fuel usage on the farm by stopping ploughing in 1998 and since then, have continued to reduce this further by using less fertiliser on our fields as the soil health increases and provides more nutrients to the crops. As well as reducing fuel usage, by stopping ploughing, we are actually locking in huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the soil, you can read more about this here.

– We use GPS systems on all our tractors to make them as efficient as possible, lowering our fuel usage and keeping emissions to a minimum.

– We use LED energy saving bulbs and timers on our lights to keep our electricity usage as low as possible too.


thumbnail solar power


As we are a LEAF farm, we have a yearly audit to ensure we are doing the best to farm in harmony with nature, and we are always working to find new ways to reduce our emissions and our impact on nature!

The next step in our carbon neutral journey was to offset our remaining emissions. We used United Nations approved offsets and have been able to support a reforestation initiative in Uruguay and a United Nations clean energy project.

With this last step completed, we became certified as carbon neutral in January 2020 and received the Carbon Neutral Gold Standard from the United Nations!

carbon neutral


What’s next?

Becoming carbon neutral is a fantastic achievement, but we aren’t going to stop there. We aim to be carbon negative, that means we will be absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere than we put into it, so we would be removing carbon rather than adding it.

In order to become officially certified as carbon neutral, we had to use the United Nation’s way of calculating net carbon emissions. this unfortunately meant we could not take into account all the incredible work we do with our soils as the carbon stored in soils is not yet officially recognised as a carbon store. From our own calculations, if this was taken into account, we would already be carbon negative!

Duncan is now involved in European project to find an internationally accepted, verifiable and certifiable method of measuring soil organic content on a continental scale, encouraging farmers and land managers to adopt carbon capturing methods improve their soil carbon content. The project aims to empower farmers to become agents of climate mitigation, where soil carbon and health will become a financial asset for the farmer and provide natural capital for the wider society by reducing global carbon emissions.


sustainable farming featured


Every year at the start of August, farmers are encouraged to share their day online as part of 24 Hours in Farming #Farm24. We took part again this year and shared all the goings on from Bottom Farm.


First, we headed out to find Marvin cultivating. This field was growing wheat this year which has now been harvested, we leave the wheat stubble in the field to biodegrade and nourish the soil. We are planning on planting beans in this field in October and beans need to be planted quite deep into the ground. Marvin has to cultivate the soil to loosen the top layer to make it possible for us to plant the beans. This is a big field and the cultivator needs to be driven quite slowly so this will take the majority of the day!


We then headed back to the farm yard, passing the combine harvester which is having a rest until the spring barley is ready to be harvested.

Here are the wild flowers we have growing around our spring barley. These flowers provide habitats for insects and is great for pollinators.

We even have these beautiful daisies in the wildflower meadow margins, and Duncan explained these are actually chamomile for making into tea!

The last stop on our way back to the farmyard was these trees. Duncan planted them back in 1989 and they are just a few of the 8000 trees he has planted on the farm over the years.

Heading into our rapeseed oil production area, we watched the team pressing and bottling our Mellow Yellow Rapeseed Oil. We cold press our rapeseed on our farm. Our presses run 24/7 to produce Mellow Yellow Rapeseed Oil for kitchens up and down the country! We call it the process of no process. Simply sow, grow, press and bottle!


We harvested our rapeseed a few weeks ago and this what the little seeds look like. They’re bright yellow inside and packed full of delicious and nutritious oil!

After lunch, Duncan headed out to do some mowing. Tidying up the edges of fields already combined and making sure the various public footpaths we have going through the farm are clear and accessible for people on their daily walks!

Before we harvest the wheat, we need to check the moisture content, still a few more days of sunshine needed for this field! Duncan is winnowing here – blowing air through the wheat to remove the chaff!

We then left Marvin finishing off the cultivating and that was our day!


We had a great time sharing our day on the farm and we hope you enjoyed getting an insight into British farming! See you next year!

Soil health is a big part of sustainable farming and I have been measuring this on one of my fields since 2002. Among the great soil nutrition and health improvements seen in this field due to my sustainable farming practices, I have farmed in a way that has increased soil organic matter (SOM) which has a direct impact on reducing atmospheric CO2 levels. Between 2002 and 2020 I have seen my SOM increase from 3.8% to 6.7% which is a significant amount when talking about soil!


What is Soil Organic Matter?

Soil organic matter is the organic part of soils consisting of plant and animal detritus at various stages of decomposition. Think of dead leaves off trees, straw left behind after crops have been harvested, decaying soil microbes and insects, or old plant roots in the soil.

The organic matter is made up of cells and molecules containing lots of carbon and it can be lost from soils over the years through natural processes, which is sped up if soils are moved intensively, mixing with oxygen in the atmosphere and released as carbon dioxide (CO2). Commonly this occurs when a field is ploughed.

We no longer plough our fields and have worked hard on our sustainable farming methods to keep the carbon in the soil. In the right conditions SOM can be increased over the years, as plants grow, taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to create plant material through the natural process of photosynthesis. The process of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere and storing in the soil is called carbon sequestration and the soil becomes a carbon sink as it reduces the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Soils have the ability to be fantastic carbon sinks when looked after. In fact, coal and mineral oils that are mined from the ground (fossil fuels) are carbon that has been stored from hundreds of millions of years ago, formed from decayed plants and animals that once grew and roamed the earth.


sustainable farming soil test


How does this relate to our farm?

On my field called ‘Below the Black Barn’ the increase in soil organic matter has removed CO2 from the atmosphere, locking it in the ground which is great for reducing global warming as well as making the soil more nutritious for the plants to grow in. The figures are very impressive. We know that for every 0.1% increase in SOM, around 8.9 tonnes of CO2 are sequestered on every hectare of land.


But what does this actually mean?

If my field has increased the total SOM by 2.9% over 18 years, it has absorbed around 258 tonnes of CO2 per hectare (ha), or 14.34 tonnes per ha per year on average. One hectare is around the same size as one and a quarter football pitches.

To put this into context, driving a 1.5lt petrol Mini (our Mellow Yellow Mini) car produces 117g of CO2 per Km. So, for every hectare of our field we are absorbing enough CO2 to off-set nearly 122,554km of motoring, which is equivalent to over 10 years driving for the average motorist!


Let’s look at the whole farm…

This is just off one hectare, but Below the Black Barn Field has a cropped area of around 20ha and our whole farm cropped area is around 272ha. Therefore, from the way we farm our soils, we are sequestering an impressive 3900 tonnes of CO2 per year, off-setting enough CO2 to fly one person 500 times around the world in economy class! (or take 2,778 cars off the road) each year.


trees blog mini


The story does not end with the cropped area

We have a medium sized family farm, which not only includes the cropped area, but all the other bits we do around the edges of our fields as part of our LEAF farming and sustainable farming practises. These include areas of woodland and hedges, a grass meadow, areas of native wild-flowers and grass margins. Over the years we have planted well over 8,000 metres of new hedges and over 8,000 native trees on the farm to add to the existing trees and hedges. All these conservation areas can be calculated to sequester a further 240 tonnes of CO2 per year, as well as being areas for wildlife to thrive and prosper.

In summary on our medium sized family farm in Northamptonshire, following our LEAF and sustainable farming principles of a common-sense approach to sustainable agriculture and soil management, we are absorbing over 4,100 tonnes of CO2 per year, which is equivalent to an awful lot of car journeys or air miles.  If all farmers around the world were to farm in a similar manner, there is the potential to offset all the global carbon emissions created by global transport, which is about 30% of the carbon dioxide emitted. Or another way of looking at it, by increasing soil organic matter content from 1.7% to 5.2% on agricultural land globally, would take 1 trillion tons (0.9 trillion tonnes) of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, bringing it down to pre-industrial levels.

The good news is that we are not the only people practicing some fantastic sustainable farming techniques growing quality crops, livestock and wildlife habitats on our farm. As well as pressing rapeseed grown on our farm, we buy seed off four other LEAF Marque farmers who are just as passionate as we are in the way they farm. So, between us we are all doing our bit to preserve and protect the planet for future generations.


Further reading, in no particular order:

Montgomery. D.A, 2017. Growing a Revolution, Bringing our soil back to life. (Available from Amazon here.)

The environment has always been at the heart of everything we do, which is why LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) is so important to us. As a LEAF Demonstration farm and LEAF Marque producer, we are so proud of the work the LEAF team do to encourage other farmers to take a more sustainable approach to their farms.


Here, Caroline Drummond, Chief Executive of LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) talks about early beginnings, driving forward more sustainable farming and connecting communities…


Our Roots


LEAF celebrates its 30th anniversary next year. We began life in 1991 with a tiny office at the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire and one very ancient computer! Initially set up as a three-year project, with seed funding for only three years, we had to become self-financing. And we did just that! The focus in those early days was to set up a national network of LEAF Demonstration Farms – to showcase sustainable farming in action. We launched five farms in that first year and created a membership offer that farmers could sign up to.


LEAF walk


LEAF was set up to do two things: to promote sustainable farming through Integrated Crop Management (ICM) which, as more livestock farmers came on board, later became Integrated Farm Management (IFM) and secondly, to raise public awareness of what farmers were doing to farm with environmental care. LEAF has grown to become a global leader in delivering more sustainable farming and those two objectives remain as true today as they did then.


Sustainable Farming Through IFM


Consumers increasingly want to know more about what they feed their families; they want to eat healthily; they want to know where their food has come from and how it was produced; they want assurance of its sustainable credentials. As people started to visit our growing network of Demonstration Farms, they were asking where they could buy food they were seeing bring grown. This heralded the beginnings of LEAF Marque – our environmental assurance system.


Today we work in 27 countries with over 900 LEAF Marque certified businesses worldwide and over 40% of UK grown fruit and vegetables is grown on LEAF Marque farms. Farrington’s Mellow Yellow were one of the early trailblazers as both a LEAF Demonstration Farm and one of the earliest adopters of LEAF Marque – the first rapeseed oil to be LEAF Marque certified!


LEAF global


We are hugely proud to have worked with the Farrington’s team over so many years. Their commitment to LEAF and all we stand for, has recently been demonstrated with them becoming the world’s first carbon and plastic neutral food brand.


Building Connections


People have always been at the heart of LEAF’s vision of a world that is farming, eating and living sustainably. Building knowledge and understanding of sustainable farming helps highlight the connections between all living things – soil, plants, animals and people. This understanding gives rise to an attitude of responsibility and care. As a LEAF Demonstration Farm and LEAF Open Farm Sunday host farmer, Farrington’s Mellow Yellow welcomes people from all walks of life to experience farming first hand. Bringing people closer to farming and how their food is produced is opening people’s eyes to the importance of sustainable farming and, in turn, encouraging them to make more sustainable food choices.


LEAF talk


The way forward


Reflecting over nearly three decades, LEAF has come a long way! We haven’t achieved this growth alone. There is no magic bullet to optimising sustainable food production. It requires collective efforts of farmers, governments, retailers, NGO’s, scientists and individuals. All of us working together to achieve shared outcomes – more productive soils, cleaner water and air, greater biodiversity, efficient energy use and improved connections with people, farming and the natural world.

The partnerships LEAF has built over its nearly 30-year history will be key as we navigate the next critical few years.


LEAF flowers

What is carbon sequestration?

“Carbon sequestration is the long-term removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to be stored in plants, soils, geologic formations or oceans.”


This sentence very simply defines what carbon sequestration is, but I will explain a bit more about what it actually means and how soils and sustainable farming practices can have a major impact on reducing global warming by reducing the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere.


Soil carbon sequestration is a natural process powered by growing plants, through the process of photosynthesis. Plants photosynthesise with the energy from sunlight, taking CO2 out of the atmosphere and converting this into new plant material, both above and below the soil surface, locking up the carbon and releasing the oxygen back to the atmosphere. The process works in symbiosis with the minerals, water, bacteria, fungi and other organisms in the soil. Plants grow, die and decay, feeding the soil and the life within it. Over the long term, CO2 is removed from the atmosphere, locked into the soil and, stored in the plants. This is carbon sequestration and the soil is known as a carbon sink.


What is soil?

Soils are naturally made up of four different components, a typical soil consists of:

50% Mineral

20-25% Water

20-25% Air

1 to 12% Organic matter


Obviously, the specific percentages will vary from one soil to another and whether or not it is in wet or dry conditions for example. In winter soils will contain more water than in the summer. The organic matter is made up from all the living and dead material: bacteria, plant roots, dead leaf litter and animal manure for example. This organic matter is full of carbon that is locked in the soil. Different soils will have different soil organic matter (SOM) contents and therefore different carbon contents. For example, a sandy soil will have a low SOM of around 1%, where as a peat-based soil will be at the top end, with clay soils somewhere in between.


A bit of soil history

Around 10,000 years ago man evolved from being a hunter gatherer to a farmer as they started growing crops and grazing animals. They managed the soils, changing the natural habitat to one more favourable to their needs. Right from the first farmers, man has not been very successful at looking after our soils. In fact, every empire in human history has eventually failed due to starvation, mainly bought about by soil degradation. From the Roman Empire, to the more recent collapse of the Soviet Union.


President Franklin Roosevelt once stated, “A nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.” Wise words indeed, based on thousands of years of proof. However, when Roosevelt made this statement, he was probably thinking of the dust bowls in the mid-west of the American prairies and the loss of the natural habitat caused by farmers ploughing up their land to grow crops. He was very aware of the nutritious soil literally being blown away and was no doubt aware that unless farming practices changed, in time this land would not be able to produce food. But he was probably not aware that the general degradation of the soil was also releasing many thousands of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, adding to what we know today as Global Warming.


Traditionally farmers plough the land, a process to turn the soil over to create good conditions in which to plant the following crop or pasture. However, when the soil is moved intensely as it is in ploughing, the carbon that is locked into that soil is suddenly exposed to our oxygen-rich atmosphere, resulting in the carbon combining with the oxygen to make carbon dioxide, which is released into the atmosphere. At this point the soil changes from being a carbon sink (removing CO2 from the atmosphere) to become a carbon source (releasing CO2 into the atmosphere). Over a few short decades, soils will lose their carbon content and thus reduce the soil organic matter, not only releasing global warming CO2, but also making the soil less nutritious and resilient to extreme weather conditions, which is not good for the farmer.


How are we improving our soils on Bottom Farm?

There is a better way we can grow our crops and graze our animals, using sustainable practises carried out by the likes of LEAF farmers (Linking Environment And Farming). These sustainable farming practises have three crucial but simple requirements to make soils healthy:

– Reduce soil disturbance from intensive cultivation and ploughing

– Keep something growing in the soil all year

– Vary the crops and livestock grown on the soil


By reducing cultivation, and especially ploughing of the soil, the loss of CO2 is greatly reduced. By keeping something growing in the soil as long as possible, not only are the plants utilising the power of the sun, photosynthesising and actively absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere, but the roots are feeding all the microbes in the soil to keep a healthy biodiversity. Finally, by varying the crops and livestock grown on the soil, the farmer better mimics what would happen in nature keeping the soil in good health.


If farmers follow these simple principles, they can again turn the soil back into a carbon sink, sequestering carbon in the soil and increasing the soil organic matter. I have done this on our farm over the last two decades and on one field which I have been monitoring, I have increased the soil organic matter from 3.8% to 6.3% between 2002 and 2016. To put this into context, if every farmer around the world practiced sustainable soil principles, our soils have the ability to remove 1 trillion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, taking us back to pre-industrial levels. So, the prize is extremely big and very worthwhile aiming for.

I think I might be a Tree Hugger.


I have always appreciated the beauty of and adaptability of trees, whether this be an individual tree impressively showing its unique beauty in the open countryside or adding a warmth of texture to the architectural lines of an urban setting. Together trees make the copses and woodlands that characterise our British landscape, creating our ‘green and pleasant land’. 13% of Britain is covered in woodland, up from just 5% at the beginning of the last century when the Forestry Commission was established. Britain also has an exceptional number of ancient trees compared to the rest of Europe, these trees are a living history, wrapped up with mythology and traditions stretching back thousands of years. Trees provide a home for other forms of wildlife from lichens and fungi, to insects, birds and small mammals. They are also a valuable source of food for wildlife and humans alike, as well as timber having many uses; from being a fuel or an important raw material to build everything from ships and buildings, to fine furniture to the more mundane but essential: paper for toilet rolls.


bird in tree


As a young boy I can just about remember the grand knarled Elm trees around the farm, most of which succumbed to the devastating Dutch Elm Disease which just about wiped this species out. Luckily, a few Elms survived which are resistant to the disease, but this is now a rare sight. From the 1980s, farmers started to be encouraged by government policy to plant trees on their farms to replace the former trees that had been lost over the years from Dutch Elm disease and from those pulled out following the second World War, where government policy had encouraged farmers to grow more food ensuring Britain was never held hostage to food shortages again.


tree saplings


Over the years, my father and I have planted well over 8,000 trees on our farm. Father started this in 1987, establishing two small copses of native deciduous hardwoods and fruiting trees in awkward field corners. Now some thirty years later, these trees have added real beauty to the landscape, as well as providing habitat and food for wildlife. From autumn 1989, as soon as I left school, I planted my first trees on the farm and spent many subsequent winters with a spade and flask of tea planting trees and hedges around the farm. Over the years, these have needed weeding, tending and replacing ones that either died in summer droughts, or were eaten by Muntjac and hares. But now as they grow and mature, I find real pleasure in seeing them evolve, becoming part of the landscape.


spinney trees


When I first started planting trees and hedges on the farm, my motivation was to improve the visual character of the farm, by creating a network of small copses linked by hedgerows next to water courses or across fields. For example, I created a beetle bank across our largest field and planted it with a mixture of tree and hedge plants. This created a wildlife corridor from an old hedge at one end to a small copse at the other. Over the years it has provided habitat for Grey Partridge and other farmland birds, as well as small mammals and insects, including of course beetles. It is visible from a nearby bridleway, providing an interesting focal point on the horizon.


In addition to the visual and wildlife benefits, many of the trees we have planted such as English Oak, will in time be a source of quality timber, however this will be long after I have gone. But I have also planted a couple of areas of Poplar trees purely for their timber around twenty years ago. This is a quick growing hardwood which takes around twenty five years to mature. So these will soon be ready to cut down to make pallets or furniture frames, following which we will replant the areas with more trees in their place to start the cycle over again.


Since I started planting trees on our farm as a way of improving our own little part of the countryside, the appreciation of trees in the wider world to reduce flooding and soil erosion has become more apparent. However, the biggest change over the last decade has been the wider realisation of the ability of trees to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and the sense of despair at the continued global deforestation, especially in the Amazon basin, often thought of as the planet’s lungs. Admittedly the 8,000 trees we have planted is not going to make up for vast tracts of lost rainforest, but every little bit genuinely helps.


tree and beehive


Trees absorb carbon dioxide all their lives, but are most efficient during their teenage to middle age years. Therefore, the trees we planted between 1987 to around 2005 are currently doing a very good job for us. According to the Farm Carbon Toolkit every hectare of broadleaved deciduous trees will absorb around 4,761Kg of carbon dioxide per year. In addition, for every 1,000m of managed hedgerow, a further 1,175 Kg of CO2 is absorbed every year. On our farm we have doubled the area of woodland over the last thirty years to over 9 hectares and increased the length of hedgerows to over 14,000m, so our woodland and hedgerows are absorbing over 59 tonnes of CO2 every year.

(To learn more about how plants store CO2 in the soil, have a read of our blog post about why we no longer plough our fields.)


To put this into perspective, an average family car such as our ‘Mellow Yellow Mini’ produces around 117g of CO2 for every kilometre driven, therefore our trees and hedges are removing enough CO2 out of the atmosphere every year to offset over half a million kilometres of driving, which is enough to remove over 40 ‘Mellow Yellow Minis’ off UK roads each year (for the average car use of 11,900 km per year).


trees blog mini


With all these great benefits that trees bring to our lives and the world around us, we are certainly going to continue planting trees on our farm. Starting this February, working with the Woodland Trust, we are going to plant up a small area next to a pond with 100 trees, that until recently had scrub and dead elms. This time though, rather than doing all the work ourselves, we are going to invite local people to help us. We will provide the young trees and in return for everyone’s hard work, we will lay on some refreshments to create a real good community spirit. If you would like to join us and plant a tree on Bottom Farm on Sunday 16th February, register for your ticket here.


So yes, I am definitely a Tree Hugger and proud to be called one! Any other prospective tree huggers out there, feel free to sign up to come along in February and plant your very own bit of history in the English countryside.

duncan signature

What is rapeseed oil? Let us answer that for you here…


Rapeseed oil is the oil extracted from the small black seeds found in seed pods grown on the rapeseed plant, Brassica napus, a plant species which is a member of the brassica family. These seeds are tiny, quite hard black seeds with a bright yellow centre which holds a high oil content. To release this oil, the seeds must be either pressed or processed at a high temperature.


what is rapeseed oil press

Rapeseed oil dripping from a press


We produce our Mellow Yellow Rapeseed Oil by a traditional cold pressing method which we like to call the ‘process of no process’. We simply squeeze the seeds in a screw press and collect the oil that is released. The screw press is very simple and is an incredibly traditional food production method. A slowly turning screw uses pressure to gently squeeze the seeds which releases the oil. This oil is then passed through a filter (a bit like coffee paper) and then it is ready to go into bottles to be used in your kitchen.


Not all rapeseed oil is produced in the same way though. Some companies use a chemical extraction method to produce refined rapeseed oil. This involves quite an intense process where the rapeseed oil is extracted from the seeds under high temperatures, then is bleached and deodorised using chemicals to create a flavourless and colourless oil. This is often sold as vegetable oil in large quantities to be used for deep frying.


Stages of growth of a rapeseed plant

We sow the seeds into the earth in August straight after harvest time. The seeds are then left to grow throughout September and October with the rain at this time of year helping. Growth slows down from November to February until Spring arrives and it starts to warm up. We put fertiliser on the fields at this time to help the growth. From April onwards, the rapeseed plant continues to grow, becoming a tall, green plant with yellow flowers, about 1m high.


what is rapeseed oil field

Rapeseed flowers


These yellow flowers appear around May and June time. The flowers then die, leaving a seed pod to grow in their place. This seed pod develops over the late summer months until August when harvest takes place.


what is rapeseed oil seed pods

Rapeseed pods ready for harvest


A combine harvester cuts down the plant and breaks the seed pods open to release all the little black seeds that have formed. These seeds can then either be planted again to grow even more rapeseed plants the next year, or can be gently cold pressed to produce cold pressed rapeseed oil.


what is rapeseed oil harvest

Harvesting rapeseed


What is rapeseed oil also known as?

In the UK, we refer to it as ‘rapeseed oil’ or ‘cold pressed rapeseed oil’ depending on the way it is produced. However, in Canada and the USA, they know it as ‘canola oil’. This stands for Canadian Oil Low Acid, which refers to the low erucic acid of the product.

Some people ask us if we use any genetically modified (GM) rapeseed. Our seeds are not GM and additionally, they are LEAF Marque.  LEAF stands for Linking the Environment And Farming and means that they we are independently audited to ensure that our farming methods are both sustainable and sensitive to the environment.


What is rapeseed oil used for?

With a high smoke point, rapeseed oil is a brilliant culinary oil and is great for roasting, frying, baking or dressing. Take a look at our recipes using Mellow Yellow Rapeseed Oil here. As well as a culinary oil, we use our Mellow Yellow Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil as an ingredient for our range of salad dressings, infused oil and mayonnaise. With its subtle nutty flavour and low saturated fat content, it is perfect for this and creates delicious and healthy dressings and mayonnaise with a beautiful yellow colour.

what is rapeseed oil range

Mellow Yellow range


What is so special about Mellow Yellow Rapeseed Oil?

– Duncan Farrington, a fourth generation farmer, was the UK’s original seed-to-bottle producer of cold pressed rapeseed oil back in 2005.

– Our rapeseed is grown to LEAF Marque standards, a system designed to promote environmentally responsible and  sustainable farming.

– Grown, cold pressed and bottled on the Farrington’s family farm in Northamptonshire.

– Flavour is key. Our cold pressed rapeseed oil is not brash or punchy, with mellow nutty and buttery tones.

– 90% less saturated fat than coconut oil and half the saturated fat of olive oil.

– Ten times more Omega 3 than olive oil with a healthy balance of Omega 3, 6 and 9.


So what is rapeseed oil? It is a brilliant culinary oil that is produced from the oil found in seeds from the rapeseed plant. Cold pressed rapeseed oil is produced by gently squeezing the seeds and has a subtle nutty flavour and is low in saturated fat with a high smoke point. Find out more about Farrington’s Mellow Yellow Rapeseed Oil here and find your local stockist here.

On the 8th August, we took part in 24 Hours in Farming, the agricultural industry’s biggest online event, which highlights the pride of the nation’s food producers and encourages farmers to show the general public a typical working day through the power of social media using the hashtag #Farm24. Starting at 5am on Thursday 8th and finishing at 5am on Friday 9th, this 24 hour event encouraged British farmers to share an insight into their day to show consumers the effort and care that goes into producing their food.


#farm24 duncan

Duncan Farrington ready for #Farm24


Starting first thing in the morning, Duncan had to move all the barley in the barn back as far as possible, to give plenty of room for the barley he was due to the harvest throughout the day.


#farm24 combine view

View from inside the combine harvester


Meanwhile, Robert (Duncan’s father) and Marvin (our farm worker) started preparing the combine harvester. This involved cleaning the windscreen, blowing the dust from the combine to reduce fire risk, setting up the GPS and getting the combine ready for a busy day. Once everything was set, Marvin starting combining. We use GPS to pinpoint our location in the field and steer the combine through the field, ensuring that each length of the field is harvested as efficiently as possible, reducing fuel usage and taking less time.


We were harvesting spring barley on this particular day. This year our spring barley was destined to be made into malt for beer, so a fairly important crop in our opinion!


#farm24 seed

Barley being unloaded into the trailer


Whilst Marvin drove the combine, Duncan and Robert took it in turns to fill a trailer load of harvested barley from the combine and take it back to the farm yard and tip it into the barn. By having both Duncan and Robert do this, they were able to keep up with the speed Marvin was harvesting at so the combine didn’t have to stop at any point.


#farm24 cover crop

Cover crop seeds – buckwheat & phacelia


We visited another field on Bottom Farm, this one was harvested a few days previously and then planted with cover crops. We use cover crops to improve the health of our soil, but the key benefit is the fact that they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and store the carbon in the soil (more info here). We planted buckwheat (the bigger, pyramid shaped seeds) which scavenge for phosphate and helps young plants’ root development. We also planted phacelia (the tiny seeds) which have fibrous roots for soil structure. On the same day as #Farm24, the UN also released their latest climate change report, which highlighted the importance of soil and storing carbon from the atmosphere in soil, which is exactly what our cover crops do!


Whilst Duncan was busy with harvest, his wife Eli jumped in a tractor and rolled the fields of cover crops. Rolling smooths the field and ensures the seeds are pushed into a good soil base to give them the best chance for growing.


#farm24 eli

Eli Farrington in tractor


Next, we headed over to the Mellow Yellow production barn. Mellow Yellow Rapeseed Oil is grown, pressed and bottled on the farm. First of all, the seeds go into big yellow hoppers which feeds the seed into the presses. The seed is then cold pressed which involves being gently squeezed until the yellow oil is released. The seed husk is not wasted, it is shaped into pellets and sold to local farmers as high quality animal feed for cattle, pigs and sheep.


#farm24 rapemeal


Rapeseed oil dripping from press


Once the seed has been pressed, the oil trickles out and is simply passed through a filter, a bit like coffee paper, before it is put into bottles. These bottles were then destined for Morrisons, the sponsors of 24 Hours in Farming, a lovely coincidence!


Returning back to the combine harvester, Duncan, Robert and Marvin had lots of barley to harvest, so ended up going until half 10 that night, it’s a good thing the combine has headlights! By the end of the day, we had managed to harvest all the barley, which we were VERY pleased with, especially as rain started to fall the minute after we had shut the combine into the barn, perfect timing or what! The weather often causes problems around harvest, the crops may be ready but if it’s raining, we can’t combine as the moisture levels must be low.


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Duncan, Robert and Marvin after a busy day’s harvesting


Throughout the day, hundreds and thousands of British farmers and food producers shared images and videos from their day with #Farm24. It was a fantastic day for learning about how our food is produced. #Farm24 was trending for most of the day and over 8 million people saw the photos and videos shared throughout the day! For more information on 24 Hours in Farming, please visit Farmer’s Guardian here:—24hoursinfarming 

Bottom Farm is an arable farm, in other words, we grow crops and not animals. However, when giving talks on sustainable agriculture, I sometimes say that we do have livestock on Bottom Farm in the form of worms, pollinating insects, beetles and a whole host of other beneficial little creepy crawlies that help me grow my crops. They help by recycling old plant debris to create plant food for the growing crops in the case of worms; or pollinating our rapeseed and beans in the case of pollinating insects; or indeed helping with my pest control, in the case of the beetles that eat unwanted aphids on the crops. But in the more traditional sense, we don’t usually have livestock on the farm.

As part of a good sustainable farming system, I grow a healthy rotation of different crops around the farm each year. The basis of this being that different crops take different things from the soil and put different things back. In addition to growing different crop types, we also plant crops at different times of the year which helps in breaking weed and disease cycles. Generally, we plant crops in either the autumn or the spring.

Before planting a spring crop of say, barley, I plant a cover crop in the autumn. A cover crop does just as it says, it covers the ground, protecting the soil from winter rains. By growing a crop throughout the winter months means the growing roots are holding onto precious minerals rather than being washed away in the rainfall. The roots also keep the soil in good structural condition, keeping it lovely and friable for the following spring crop. Finally, the growing crops provide a food source for all those little creepy crawly animals and bacteria in the soil that work altogether to make a healthy fertile soil.

I have tried several different crops over the years and currently favour a mixture of crop species, this includes oats, vetch, phacelia and buckwheat for example, each adding their own little bit of magic to the mix. Generally, I plant the cover crops in August or September and allow them to grow until January or February. As soon as the weather conditions allow, we will apply a herbicide to the crop to kill it off, giving it time to die and breakdown in readiness for the spring barley to be planted in March or April. By giving time for the crop to breakdown, all the bugs in the soil will start converting some of the plant material into nutrition ready for the new planted barley to feed on and grow healthily into a crop to be harvested.


livestock on bottom farm sheep


However, let’s return to the topic of livestock on Bottom Farm! Over the last few years, on some of the cover crop fields I have used sheep to graze off the vegetation in readiness to plant the following crop. This traditional method of destroying the cover crop is sometimes called the ‘golden hoof’, as the sheep not only remove the crop, but in the process, convert it into a fresh source of manure, thereby fertilising the soil. The sheep are not mine, but belong to a local farmer who takes them from farm to farm, where he gets good quality grazing for his flock, whilst providing us with an excellent lawnmower and fertiliser service. It does mean for a few weeks a year, I become a livestock farmer and we have sheep on Bottom Farm. I thoroughly enjoy walking the field every morning to check they are all still there and happily grazing. You could say it makes me feel like a real farmer, using traditional methods in our very modern world.


You can learn more about our sustainable farming practises here.


duncan signature

Duncan Farrington

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself”

Franklin D Roosevelt.

As a farmer, I have always known that everything I produce is dependent on the soil I grow my crops in and the rain that falls on them. Without these natural resources, we would fail. However, it is not just farmers that soils are important to. They are the cornerstone for the survival of life on earth and, as former American President Roosevelt appreciated, the key to the prosperity of whole nations and civilizations.

Ever since mankind turned from hunter gatherer to farmer, we have had the sad record of destroying our soils, which led to the demise of empires. Whether this being the Ancient Greeks, where ancient monuments are now surrounded by arid bedrock, in what was once fertile farm land. Or the fall of the Roman Empire, which spread out north and south from Italy, in the attempt to bring food in from new agricultural lands. Or more recently the fall of the Soviet Union, as the population got fed up with constantly queuing for essential staple foods, where in reality they were not producing enough food to feed themselves.

In nature crops and animals grow naturally quite well, but they are a bit randomly spread out. As mankind started to domesticate crops and animals for their needs, they started clearing areas of land to produce more food in a given area. The land was cultivated by the plough, originally a small implement pulled by an ox or donkey, today it is much larger and pulled by tractors. But the principle is the same. The plough turns over and breaks up the soil surface to create a seed bed to plant crops in. The advantages are that it provides soils free from weeds, provides good conditions and soil structure for plants to grow in. It also gives a nutritional boost to the plants as bacteria breakdown minerals for the plants to feed off.

Over time the disadvantages of ploughing however outweigh the advantages. The freshly disturbed surface of the earth is very fragile, especially when it rains, with soil erosion being particularly noticeable on slopes. As rain drops hit the soil surface, water drains down-hill into streams, rivers and eventually into seas and oceans. But the water takes the fertile soil particles with them, which in time can remove the soil completely; think of those ancient Greek monuments standing on top of rocky outcrops. But it still happens today as this satellite image of the UK clearly shows. Now whilst I am all for us exporting more products to our friends in Europe, I am not sure we want to be sending them our fertile soil.

plough soil erosion

This satellite image, taken on 16 February 2014, shows how soil is washed off our fields and out into the sea. ©NEODAAS/University of Dundee

Also, whilst ploughing creates a lovely loose structure for seeds to germinate in, the action of ploughing exposes the soil to oxygen in the atmosphere. This gets all the soil bacteria really excited, similar to a young child being given sugary sweets, running around really quickly, before collapsing in a heap on the floor once the sugar rush is over. The bacteria ‘run around’ in this high oxygen atmosphere, giving lots of nutrition to the crop, but it is short lived as the bacteria eat up the store of carbon in the soil, respiring as they do so, and thus release the stored carbon to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. This has the double negative effect, of gradually reducing the nutritional content of the soil and increasing the global warming effects of increased CO2 in the atmosphere.

Having learnt much on soil quality over the years, I took the decision not to plough on our farm back in 1998. Admittedly, my incentive was not just to save the planet, but also to save money as ploughing is an expensive operation. Although it was known my crop yields could reduce a little, hopefully this would be more than compensated by reduced costs. When I stopped ploughing, I made lots of mistakes as yields reduced dramatically for a short period, as well as weed pressure increasing. Our neighbours thought I was a bit daft – they may be right on that one. But over the years, I have learnt an awful lot as the system has improved. The theory of not ploughing is that naturally plant roots and creatures like worms improve soil structure. The bacteria and other micro fauna improve the soil health and biology, converting old plant residues and mineral content of the soil into plant food. So by not ploughing, the soil structure and organic matter content gradually improves year on year and, the carbon from the soil is not released to the atmosphere as CO2. I continue to learn from my experiences as we are making a healthy environment for the plants to grow in, but this is the underlying theory.

plough chinese delegation

Delegation from China, including Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Chinese delegate for the United Nations Environment team.

Today, soil health is something that governments around the world are realising is important and we should be doing something to improve our most important natural asset. I was especially proud recently when, along with LEAF, I hosted a delegation from China which included; The Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Chinese delegate for the United Nations Environment team. They were very interested in what we are achieving with our soil health on the farm.

Plenty of commentators accuse agriculture of being a huge cause of global warming from CO2 emissions, however I can show from what we are doing on our farm, agriculture can play a major role in reducing CO2 emissions when looking after our soils.

no plough results graph

Below Black Barn field, Bottom Farm

graph shows how the soil on our fields is improving in quality, by increasing in soil organic matter. To put this another way, we are actively absorbing CO2 out of the atmosphere and locking it into our soils. If this is repeated around the world, the benefits could be enormous; it has been estimated that agriculture could reduce global CO2 emissions by between 10% to potentially 30%. The graph also shows the increase in Cation Exchange Capacity (C.E.C). In basic terms as the CEC increases, there is more nutrition within the soil for the plants to grow healthily.

So, in the space of a few years of trying to work with nature, the results clearly show we are creating a healthier, more nutritious environment for crops to grow in. Not only is this good for the soil and the wider environment, but it is good for us also, as healthy soils grow healthy crops and healthy crops create healthy food for us to enjoy eating.

Learn more about our environmental credentials here and where to buy our LEAF Marque Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil here