Sustainable Intensification Project

Updates from the 2015 Rye and Spelt Event Series at Nafferton Farm

1 Feb 2016

As part of both the Healthy Minor Cereals and Sustainable Intensification Platform projects, the Nafferton Ecological Farming Group is hosting a series of information sessions about spelt and rye growing in Northeast England. The first two events took place in July and November 2015, while additional activities will continue over the next 3 years as the projects continue.

July 11th

At the July event, attendees visited the first year of field trials established at Nafferton, which compare four different varieties of spelt and rye, respectively, over five different fertiliser types. At the time, differences in crop height were clearly visible as both crops had completely flowered.

Attendees explore different flour textures based on grain type and mill processing at Gilchesters

November 21st

The November event did not include a field walk, as the second year trials had only just germinated, and much of the time was spent instead on productive discussion of the food supply chain for minor cereals and artisanal bread. The group discussed the initial yield results from the NEFG trials and considered their implications for a potential grower. The broader considerations of creating demand, not just supply, for rye and spelt products were also deliberated, with input from growers, millers and bakers in attendance.

The group also viewed spelt de-hulling, which is an additional step to seed cleaning to obtain individual grains from a spelt spikelet. For the field work, NEFG uses a thresher and sends spelt samples through multiple times to obtain grain samples that can be used in further processing.

The NEFG laboratory thresher is used to de-hull spelt samples. Each sample needs to be sent through the thresher 4-5 times to collect spelt grains that can then be milled

The HMC project will expand next year to include a farmer-participatory trial with spelt and rye varieties from the field trials grown in strip plots on both organic and conventional farms. If you are interested in additional information about this aspect of the project (trials to be sown autumn 2016) please contact Amelia Magistrali at:

For additional details about HMC and SIP, including future information sessions, follow the NEFG website and our Facebook and Twitter pages.

For more details about this series please visit:

July photos taken by Jessica Byam, a 2015 NEFG MSc Graduate (you can see more of her photos here: November photos were taken by Hannah Davis, a 2014 NEFG MSc Graduate and current farming and education officer at Bill Quay Farm (see her posts on the BQF blog here: