Video: Why cows and bushes are part of Essex arable enterprise


George Youthful is making giant modifications to his arable enterprise with nature at its coronary coronary heart. Be taught the overall report and watch the films for further component on his tree planting problem and his Crimson Poll cattle.

See moreover: Dorset grower reveals his low-input system with no wheat

Essex farmer George Youthful is creating an pure farming system primarily based totally on agroecology which will in the end allow him to market a varied range of merchandise of their remaining sort.

Intent on farming in stability with nature whereas minimising waste and producing nutritious meals with acknowledged provenance, Mr Youthful’s intention is to have a enterprise that exports merely semi-finished meals and fibre on a wholesale basis.

Agroecology – the first guidelines

  • Farming with nature
  • Spherical financial system
  • Meals sovereignty

A key part of that plan is using all the waste streams on farm, in a spherical technique, as he develops a self-contained system that helps native employment and addresses a lot of the factors heightened by intensive farming practices.

With a clear imaginative and prescient of how he sees it creating over time, Mr Youthful is using the money from his intensive Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship scheme to fund the modifications to his enterprise.

Already he has launched dual-purpose Crimson Poll cattle to graze the pure leys which are part of a seven-year rotation, put in a mill to provide flour from a varied range of crops, and planted higher than 6,500 bushes in an agroforestry problem.

Farm Data: Fobbing Farms

  • Area: 485ha
  • Soil: Heavy London clay
  • Cropping: Heritage wheat, buckwheat, lentils, peas, plus agrofrestry (6,500 bushes planted)
  • Livestock: Crimson Poll cattle graze pure leys

Wild seam

His future plans embody bringing in poultry, to look at the cattle and to make the most of the output of cleaning his private grain for milling, along with making a wild seam or “nature superhighways” via the middle of the home farm.

It should make sure that wildlife is equipped for and has year-round entry to eternal cowl, as he locations nature on the coronary coronary heart of the enterprise.

Extra ahead, he hopes to determine an on-farm slaughter and butchery facility, so that his cattle don’t go away the farm to be killed.

Together with producing meat, the plan is to start out outdoor milking the cows with the intention of developing cheese.

Whereas realising his ambitions would require fairly a number of infrastructure duties – along with ring fencing the farm in Fobbing, Mr Youthful has made speedy progress collectively along with his plans by focussing on the soil.

Soil nicely being

“That has involved putting in pure leys for 4 years, to rebuild our soil building and get the soils functioning successfully,” he says.

The leys, which comprise a mix of species of assorted rooting depths, are mob grazed. This affords additional fertility for the three years of combinable crops that observe the leys, which are established with very shallow tillage.

“We do should make use of some cultivations to get the crops in,” explains Mr Youthful. “Providing we solely work with the cardio excessive soil, any hurt is minimal.”

Having seen life return to the middle of arable fields, he is determined to keep up it there. Consequently, the farm is being designed so that areas of refuge – eternal strips, seemingly with bushes – are on a regular basis shut by, and most space widths are saved to 40m the place attainable.

“I don’t want to inter-row hoe the crops, as I consider it’s too dangerous,” he explains. “I’m engaged on the premise that merely 27% of the farm will in all probability be disturbed in anyone 12 months, nevertheless solely as crops are established.

“Wildlife will on a regular basis have eternal cowl to have the power to switch throughout the farm and repopulate these disturbed areas.”

Crop different

Remaining 12 months he grew 20 or so kinds of Heritage wheat to indicate into flour. He moreover grew buckwheat, lentils and peas – the latter two proving robust due to the local weather – whereas flax was grown for fibre.

“The lentils all failed,” he admits. “They are a finicky crop. Our peas have been hit by a hailstorm, nevertheless are sometimes a part of our rotation and have carried out successfully beforehand.”

This 12 months, he has fewer Heritage varieties inside the ground and a smaller area of buckwheat, as market demand is low. He continues to work with chosen bakers to market the specialist flours he produces and seems for end markets, ideally native to the farm.

With loads of the land he farms in pure conversion, enter use on the remaining has fallen dramatically and expenditure has come down from £160,000 to £30,000.

Of that, some goes on glyphosate pre-establishment whereas pre-emergence herbicides are used on wheat and pulses, with vitamin moreover used on chosen crops. In time, which will cease altogether.


The agroforestry problem was established closing 12 months, with woodland belts of a varied range of fruit and nut tree species being planted 40m apart, along with one belt of distinctive bushes.

Further will in all probability be planted this 12 months and Mr Youthful will in all probability be trialling various crop selections between the strips, to see what could possibly be achieved.

The wild seam, which may run via the middle of Fobbing Farm, could take up as loads as 40ha of the 270ha block of land and can in all probability be allowed to regenerate naturally.

On its western edge, a varied combination of heritage fruit bushes and native bushes will in all probability be planted (in order so as to add further plant vary), nevertheless in some other case it’s going to seemingly be left to develop alongside re-wilding guidelines.

Fencing the wild seam implies that he could have the selection of using it like a rotational paddock, whereas its most vital goal will in all probability be to assist and enhance biodiversity – guaranteeing that helpful bugs and pure predator populations thrive.

Advertising technique

“That’s about wanting on the bigger picture,” he says. “Everyone knows what the farming commerce goes to be requested to do for the environment, so it’s smart to start out out doing points now.”

All of the items that he has put in place at Fobbing Farms is completed in accordance with a strict advertising and marketing technique, which assigns a hazard profile to every aspect of each problem.

His intention is that each enterprise will assist at least one full-time employee as a result of it produces objects to be provided on a wholesale basis.

Mr Youthful admits that he spends time fascinated by what would work and looking out for the proof that tells him what to introduce subsequent.

He moreover prioritises visiting totally different farms and finding out from the broader agroecology assist group, as he builds his farm enterprise for the long run.

“We’re recycling nutritional vitamins and biomass, lowering waste, developing resilience into the system and re-establishing the connection between producers and buyers,” he says.

“I’ve made a start with essential parts and people which I perceive the way to do.”

Pushing the Boundaries

Pushing the Boundaries is a Farmers Weekly sequence that features these which will be contemplating differently and altering their farming practices.

With agriculture coping with an not sure future, we communicate to growers who’re taking daring movement to comprehend their targets.

Compensate for 2 earlier farmers:


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