Hamps and Hereford growers named 2022 Soil Farmers of the Year – Farmers Weekly

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A Hampshire arable grower and a combined farmer from Herefordshire have been named as the joint winners of the 2022 Soil Farmer of the Year award after they each improved their soils whereas lowering costly inputs.

Farm supervisor David Miller farms 700ha of chalky arable soils simply south-west of Basingstoke and has been on a journey in the direction of regenerative farming for 12 years, whereas on Billy Lewis’ 140ha household farm north-west of Hereford, livestock performs a key function in creating wholesome soils.

Mr Miller focuses on cowl, catch and companion crops and additionally no-tillage to enhance his soils, whereas all areas of Mr Lewis’ arable and inventory farm are grazed by livestock not less than each there years.

See additionally: Soil well being improves after swap to new drills

Mr Miller began out on his regenerative journey 12 yr in the past with the introduction of cowl crops, and has been farming no-tillage for the previous seven years.

He is now centered on lowering inputs, with nitrogen use down 15% and gas use reduce by 40% in the previous dozen years.

”The journey has been rocky, however we are actually making progress, and fertiliser and gas prices have been diminished,” he stated at an awards presentation at Groundswell 2022 in Hertfordshire.

From left: Andrew Rees, David Miller and Billy Lewis with their certificates

From left: Andrew Rees, David Miller and Billy Lewis © MAG/David Jones

Four completely different homeowners

Mr Miller farms as the Wheatsheaf Farming Company for 4 completely different homeowners and he’s the solely full-time member of employees, as he brings in contractors and additional labour when wanted all through the yr.

He says the farm is incomes good margins rising 9t/ha wheat crops with simply 180kg/ha of nitrogen.

A variety of combinable crops are grown, together with spring and winter wheat, barley and beans, along with oilseed rape and spelt wheat.

He has not utilized any phosphate and potash for eight years, with the soils indices nonetheless going up. One-third of the land is in spring cropping, so all this land grows cowl crops.

Mr Miller is a earlier Farmers Weekly Arable Farmer of the Year and is the AHDB’s present Strategic Farm South.

Herbal leys

On Mr Lewis’ Boycefield Farm, close to Dilwyn, half of the acreage is all the way down to everlasting pasture and the different half is in a grass ley-cereal rotation.

The introduction of natural ley implies that no nitrogen is used on the grazing space.

“The predominant aim is to drive down the use of fossil fuels and inputs, and lowering nitrogen fertiliser is high of the record.

We have halved the nitrogen on wheat in three years all the way down to 60kg/ha, and will look to halve it once more in the subsequent three years,” he stated.

The farm is stocked with 40 pedigree Hereford suckler cows and 300 Cheviot ewes.

All livestock are mob-grazed and all areas of the farm see hoofs each three years. In addition, about 500t of farmyard manure is composted earlier than being unfold yearly.

On the arable aspect, wheat and oats are grown, with catch crops grown between two winter cereals.

The Soil Farmer of the Year runner-up was Andrew Rees, who farms in Pembrokeshire, with a dairy herd of 300 cows utilizing natural leys.

The award is organised by the Farm Carbon Toolkit and Innovation for Agriculture – a consortium of English agricultural societies – and is sponsored by agronomy group Hutchinsons and Cotswold Grass Seeds.

It is the seventh yr of working the awards

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