Regenerative agronomy

Uwhat

Member
Arable Farmer
I'm based around Cambridgeshire / Norfolk border farming just under 1800 ha of combinable crops and sugar beet.

I am looking for a new agronomy package that looks way beyond pesticides and inorganic fertilisers. Although I am in no way against using pesticides and fertilisers the writing is surely on the wall that the continued current use will not carry on forever.
I have come across very few agronomy business's that seem to be actively looking in this direction that are not at the same time trying to sell a wonder potion that will cure everything from the common cold to septoria!
I have seen a few Twitter posts from Edaphos agronomy who look very interesting and don't appear to have commercial links although I am sure there are others. Who do you use?

Waiting in anticipation!

Uwhat
 

robbie

Member
I have been playing with foliar feeds programs with the intention of replacing or reducing the need for fungicides by building a stronger more healthy, resistant plant.

Unfortunately I didnt see it through last harvest as the chap I was doing it with got the hump I didnt buy all my solid fert from him which is a shame as previous experience o my farm has proven it can work.

Finding someone without a vested interest in flogging products is the hard bit. The chap who was my basis tutor last year was also into this sort of thing and he had a big farm out by the coast were he was doing this kind of approach.
 

martian

DD Moderator
Location
N Herts
Funnily enough, we are just setting up Groundswell Agronomy, as so many people who come to the Groundswell Show, go home full of ideas and inspiration and flounder about a bit when it comes to putting them into practice (or Dad says 'no').

The idea is that we won't be selling anything bar advice, which should be about your whole system, rotations, crops, timings, animals (livestock and wildlife) etc etc. The aim would be, like any half-decent shrink, to do ourselves out of business in a few years, ie hold your hand whilst you introduce regenerative practices, like stopping cultivations or introducing livestock into the arable rotation; then, after a few years when you've taken back control of your own farm, you kick us out.

I really struggled with trying to manage no-till and a mainstream agronomist c/w a massive chemical bill. Booting him out and getting someone sensible transformed the job, but it takes a while to learn which chemicals (if any) you really need to deal with specific problems. We need to devote more time to understanding weeds, pests and diseases and what they are really telling us and not just reaching for a chemical bottle to treat the symptoms of disorder.

Is there a market for this service?
 
Funnily enough, we are just setting up Groundswell Agronomy, as so many people who come to the Groundswell Show, go home full of ideas and inspiration and flounder about a bit when it comes to putting them into practice (or Dad says 'no').

Is there a market for this service?
Hell yes.

Will it be targeted at arable units or cover livestock as well?

I think it's time we set up local/regional "Regen Ag" discussion groups, possibly under the umbrella of your initiative, where current practitioners can meet to share experiences (especially failures) and arrange farm walks. Those interested in starting out could then use these as local support groups.
 

B'o'B

Member
Location
Rutland
Funnily enough, we are just setting up Groundswell Agronomy, as so many people who come to the Groundswell Show, go home full of ideas and inspiration and flounder about a bit when it comes to putting them into practice (or Dad says 'no').

The idea is that we won't be selling anything bar advice, which should be about your whole system, rotations, crops, timings, animals (livestock and wildlife) etc etc. The aim would be, like any half-decent shrink, to do ourselves out of business in a few years, ie hold your hand whilst you introduce regenerative practices, like stopping cultivations or introducing livestock into the arable rotation; then, after a few years when you've taken back control of your own farm, you kick us out.

I really struggled with trying to manage no-till and a mainstream agronomist c/w a massive chemical bill. Booting him out and getting someone sensible transformed the job, but it takes a while to learn which chemicals (if any) you really need to deal with specific problems. We need to devote more time to understanding weeds, pests and diseases and what they are really telling us and not just reaching for a chemical bottle to treat the symptoms of disorder.

Is there a market for this service?
You would hope so!
 

Brisel

Member
Location
Dorset
Edaphos are also selling their biological tonics. Mike Harrington is very knowledgable but has a vested interest.

Sorry, I don’t know any good independent Conservation Ag agronomists in your area @Uwhat

@ajd132 ?
 

ajd132

Member
Location
Suffolk
Edaphos are also selling their biological tonics. Mike Harrington is very knowledgable but has a vested interest.

Sorry, I don’t know any good independent Conservation Ag agronomists in your area @Uwhat

@ajd132 ?
What we really need is a farmer doing consultancy who is doing it themselves ....
Edpahos and mike seem good to me but you my view is we can’t start messing around with that kind of thing before understanding the system first.
 
You could use Steve Townsend or James Warne for a couple of consultancy sessions?

But remember your the man who has to do the farming also its not that complicated really. Which areas in particular are you not so sure about? My opinion on most biologicals is a bit, meh...

Best thing you can do is take a week off and go and visit 10 farms doing what they do on here with regards to no till and you will learn heaps.
 

martian

DD Moderator
Location
N Herts
Hell yes.

Will it be targeted at arable units or cover livestock as well?

I think it's time we set up local/regional "Regen Ag" discussion groups, possibly under the umbrella of your initiative, where current practitioners can meet to share experiences (especially failures) and arrange farm walks. Those interested in starting out could then use these as local support groups.
Well, round here it's mostly arable, so that's bound to be the main focus, but livestock will be covered as well, as they can make the regeneration of soil so much easier. Done right...

I'm sure you are right about support groups, there's nothing like talking (or listening) to other farmers who are trying to do the same thing, by way of an education...as Silliam also says above. Part of the package we're offering will be a bench-marking scheme, as the financial side is obviously crucial. Our initial bench-marking cohort meets up a few times a year on each others farms for discussion and a bit of field-walking. It's always a very interesting day out...
 

Brisel

Member
Location
Dorset
What we really need is a farmer doing consultancy who is doing it themselves ....
Edpahos and mike seem good to me but you my view is we can’t start messing around with that kind of thing before understanding the system first.
To be fair to Mike Harrington, he really does understand the system. I wouldn't say I knew him that well but we both sit on the same regional NIAB TAG technical committee & we chat occasionally there.

@Uwhat his website is https://www.edaphos.co.uk/ A few TFF members I recognise on the website...
 

ajd132

Member
Location
Suffolk
To be fair to Mike Harrington, he really does understand the system. I wouldn't say I knew him that well but we both sit on the same regional NIAB TAG technical committee & we chat occasionally there.

@Uwhat his website is https://www.edaphos.co.uk/ A few TFF members I recognise on the website...
Yeh he is very good and seems to have a good practical understanding rather than just selling stuff which some companies do.
 

Brisel

Member
Location
Dorset
@martian I'd be interested in a group and am happy to host a tour if you fancy a trip down here. You'll have an idea how far along the journey I am by my posts & strip tillage. I'm already in BASE UK and do benchmarking with AHDB and Sentry Farming. My business is fairly complex but in principle I'd consider Gary's benchmarking but my location is quite different to most of the rest of the group.
 
Yeh he is very good and seems to have a good practical understanding rather than just selling stuff which some companies do.
I've just had a look at his website. Some potentially interesting downloads to read later. I hope theres no mention of Albrecht or I'll do a runner!

However I'm a simplifier at heart. I'm chasing simplicity rather than complexity. 95% of Regen ag/ no till conservation ag is very simple for me
 

ajd132

Member
Location
Suffolk
I've just had a look at his website. Some potentially interesting downloads to read later. I hope theres no mention of Albrecht or I'll do a runner!

However I'm a simplifier at heart. I'm chasing simplicity rather than complexity. 95% of Regen ag/ no till conservation ag is very simple for me
This is the route I think I’m going down. I’ve got quite hung up on micro nutrition and biologicals/innoculants the last few years but I think that’s all a waste of time really, especially with the way farming is heading in terms of profit. The soil is the only focus and from that the results should come. Getting better N use efficiency from more active soil is going to pay far more than any of the other stuff.
 

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Three crop rule derogation for 2020

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Written by Jamie Day

Defra secretary George Eustice’s decision to relax the three-crop rule arable diversification requirement in England for 2020 has been welcomed by farm leaders, despite the minister’s earlier reluctance to take this action. Scotland and the Republic of Ireland had already granted the concession in view of the wet autumn that prevented many farmers from fulfilling […]...
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