Nature's Architects: Pigs as Pond Creators

28th April 2024

Did you know that a group of our resident pigs have played a vital role in transforming Goodwood’s landscape? Well, these remarkable animals recently played a central part in the creation of a brand-new pond within the Goodwood Estate.

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This pond project began when the estate team identified a naturally occurring depression within one of our fields, nestled beneath a perfectly round expanse of stinging nettles. To ensure an informed and conscientious decision was made, the team enlisted the expertise of both an ecologist and an archaeologist. Their findings were unanimous: the area held no significant historical or ecological treasures, making it a prime candidate for a pond that could enhance the biodiversity of the estate.


With the generous support and collaboration of Portsmouth Water, the South Downs National Park and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, a plan was set in motion. Determined to create a pond without a manmade liner, various techniques were explored, and after careful research, the team settled on the innovative gleying technique. A method that mimics the way ponds are sometimes formed in nature.


After mowing the grass and nettles, the area was fenced off in preparation for the pigs. Then, with water and suitable shelter in place, came the exciting part - introducing the pigs to their new home. The gleying process itself involved layers of straw, manure, organic material, and clay all mixed together by the pigs. Their natural instinct to create wallows proved invaluable, as they trod on the layers, effectively sealing the pond. After approximately six weeks, the pigs had managed to keep the water impressively high.


As the estate team approaches the next phase of the project, the pigs will say goodbye to their watery home. The gleying technique suggests that it is best to take the water back out of the pond and let it gley for a week, adding the water back later on. However, after three weeks of waiting, the pond hasn’t appeared to have lost any water naturally. The team are cautious to remove any water now in case the seal, that currently holds the water in, is broken. With that in mind, the pond will be left alone until it dries naturally. It will then be covered with a damp-proof liner for a week, allowing the pond to gley using anaerobic processes. Future plans then include replenishing the water and closely monitoring the pond's water levels, especially during its crucial first year.

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