Regeneration in the Spotlight at Farm Open DayNeil Hardie
The concept of “regenerative” agriculture may sound just like another trend for many growers, but a farm open day in Angus discovered many “conventional” 2farmers are already introducing soil-enhancing practices into their systems.
The five farmers involved in SAC Consulting’s Farming for A Better Climate (FFBC) programme have been trialling regenerative measures over the last four years and shared their findings of improving soil and efficiencies with around 100 attendees during the open day at Backboath Farm.
SAC Consulting’s Zach Reilly, who is co-ordinator of FFBC’s Soil Regenerative Agriculture Group, introduced the basic principles of regenerative farming before 100 attendees circulated around four stations set up on the farm, illustrating the practical results of the activities undertaken by the group.
They included introducing livestock into the rotation and controlling weeds through a robust rotation when you move away from inversion tillage.
SAC consultant David Ross and FFBC farmer Douglas Ruxton, who farms a 121ha arable unit at Moss-side of Eassie near Fettercairn, demonstrated how water infiltrates soil before and after introducing conservation practices.
On the benefits of bringing livestock into the rotation, SAC consultant Kirsten Williams explained, with mixed farmer Ben Baron, that this can be from as little as introducing manure, to grazing sheep on cover crops and cereals.
Concerns over fencing, labour and lack of livestock knowledge were discussed, with suggestions made for moveable electric fencing systems and collaborating with neighbouring farmers.
At Backboath, grazing sheep has played a significant role in improving soil structure, and farmer Hugh Black has adapted his subsoiler to establish winter crops without the plough.
He said: “We looked at buying new machinery for this but realised what we needed was basically a grubber with coulters on the back, so we made it ourselves.
“Our work rates have improved, we can establish crops earlier and get more in the ground in the winter months, using sheep to manage excess growth. It fits with the rotation as well as reducing fixed costs.”