Growndswell farmers on route to climate-friendly farming – Farmers Weekly

Farmers using regenerative farming practices gathered on the Groundswell occasion in Lannock Manor Farm, Hertfordshire, offering alternative to hear concerning the totally different strategies they’re utilizing of their methods to profit the surroundings.

See additionally: Hamps and Hereford growers named 2022 Soil Farmers of the Year

Grazing dairy cows

The use of grazing dairy cows and stewardship schemes are serving to farmers in Dorset and Northamptonshire enhance their soils and the surroundings on the trail in direction of a extra sustainable farming system.

Sophie Alexander is utilizing a 300-sturdy dairy herd grazing for 12 months of the 12 months to convey fertility to her shallow gentle soils, whereas Johnny Wake in Northamptonshire is utilizing stewardship to scale back his farming carbon footprint.

Mrs Alexander moved to natural farming in 2014 and with out using any synthetic fertiliser she wanted to focus on her soils, and so appeared to livestock to make an actual distinction and combine them into the arable rotation on her 500ha Hemsworth farm in south Dorset.

“Cows drive the soil well being and assist enhance the crop yields,” she instructed the Groundswell 2022 occasion in Hertfordshire.

Dairy cows grazing across the 12 months are seen as an asset in manuring all the bottom, bringing in an additional revenue stream and including fertility for following arable crops.

She sees the cows “firing up the farm’s ecological engine” whereas additionally serving to to plug the hole left by the gradual withdrawal of the Basic Payment Scheme of space-based mostly direct farm subsidies.

On the farm, natural spring barley yields common 4.5t/ha and spring oats 5-6t/ha whereas this 12 months she is rising a Malika wheat and Victus bean combine with the wheat grown for milling and the beans getting used as a excessive protein feed for the cattle.

Conservation agriculture

Dr Wake is managing 800ha of largely heavy land at Courteenhall Farms, simply south of Northampton, following conservation agriculture rules, rising arable crops utilizing minimal cultivations and canopy crops, managing a poultry broiler unit with 340,000 birds and a herd of Hereford cattle.

These three work collectively on the property with poultry offering muck for the arable crops and wheat being fed to the hen, whereas the low enter Herefords graze non-arable land and are outdoors all through the winter.

“We see stewardship because the fourth sort of farming and we’ve simply joined a better-tier Countryside Stewardship scheme,“ he says.

This entails planting hedges and timber, and utilizing AB8 flower-wealthy margins and plots, AB9 winter chook meals and AB15 two-12 months sown legume fallows.

He additionally trying to scale back power use by slicing again on fertiliser and by focusing on renewables with floor supply warmth pumps getting used, as he calculates the entire enterprise on a carbon foundation.

Rotation extension

Over to the east, Jake Fiennes has been director of conservation on the 10,000ha Holkham Estate in north Norfolk for 3-and-a-half years, and believes that the normal 4-course rotation, devised on the property, must be prolonged to embrace things like cowl crops.

Thomas Coke, who grew to become the first Earl of Leicester, perfected his Norfolk 4-course rotation on the property within the early a part of the nineteenth century comprising turnips, spring barley, grass, then winter wheat together with his well-known mantra of “No two white straw crops one after the opposite”.

Mr Fiennes sees himself as a “disrupter” to enhance nature constructive farming for the present Earl of Leicester and the farm administration staff.

He has helped encourage multi-species cowl crops reasonably than single species ones, extra natural leys, higher grazing of the coastal marshes with cattle, extra sheep on the farm and decrease inputs.

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