"Basically what we're doing here is trying to stop writing out cheques to people. Using the sun and the soil..."
It was such a pleasure to be taken around Billy's award winning Herefordshire farm. The Farm Carbon Toolkit's Soil Farmer of the Year at 25 years old - the whole thing was an inspiration!
Through changing some of their farming methods for methods that 'regenerate' the soil, the farm has more than halved its nitrogen fertiliser use, which has meant a drastic drop in outgoings and a big increase to the health of the soil.
One method of regenerative agriculture is mob grazing - keeping your herd or flock in a specific space, and moving them regularly to new pasture. Billy has done this and introduced herbal leys - a mixed crop of grasses, herbs and legumes for grazing which build soil fertility, resist drought and capture carbon. He noticed a marked difference between his and other land during the drought and he feels the soil structure was definitely a part of this.
"You get ten times more grass with an electric fence than a bag of fertiliser..."
But he didn't make all his changes at once. He explained on the tour the small changes he started with, and how he's continued to use conventional methods as he's experimenting. But as each change has proved its worth he's been able to scale up these changes and has more than halved his use of fertiliser, and has plans for how he can reduce pesticide use too. The soil looked great - and had more pictures taken of it than Billy!
Billy is looking at options for where to sell their meat locally - if you know a butcher keen to source locally, or have experience with vending machines, please share with the us and we can pool our knowledge.
Make good farming more possible in Herefordshire:
- Everyone: Sign the charter and join the alliance. - together we can do the things that support great local farming here, such as supporting a network of vending machines, and encouraging local retailers to champion local farms regenerating their soil. You can choose to keep in touch with the farming topic when you sign up
- Farmers and Producers - come to the event in November for producers - redistributing surplus and benefitting you and the community. Plus we'd love to include you on our steering team if you share our mission! Get in touch.
- You can find Pasture Fed meat in a small number of places in the county.