Thursday, December 13, 2018

Groundswell event explores benefits of no-till agriculture

July 31, 2018 by  
Filed under News & Business

More than 1200 farmers and visitors attended this summer’s Groundswell event – exploring no-till farming methods and conservation agriculture.

Held at Lannock Manor Farm, near Hitchin, Hertfordshire, the show and conference brought together 60 exhibitors and visitors from as far away as America, China and South Africa for two-days of knowledge exchange, learning and demonstrations.

Host farmer John Cherry said: “To create healthy soil, a good starting point for arable farmers is to adopt the three basic tenets of conservation agriculture: minimum soil disturbance, keeping the soil covered at all times
with living or dead plant matter, and growing a good diversity of crops.”

A healthy farm, started with healthy soil, said Mr Cherry. It would grow healthy plants which needed fewer fungicides, insecticides, molluscicides and herbicides. “Soil health is much talked about, but very hard to measure. Groundswell is a forum for discussing exactly this.”

Scientific approach

Farmers benefited because healthy soil made their lives easier. So too did policy-makers, who wanted to see the benefits of healthy soil for the wider population in terms of carbon sequestration, water absorption for flood prevention, clean water for drinking and clear rivers.

This was good news for arable farmers and the people who ate their produce. “Healthy plants will also result in healthy animals if they graze them; healthy animals are also cheaper to produce and better for the consumer. Soil health begets wealth.”

Mr Cherry said Groundswell sought to promote the ideas of farmers and scientists interested in improving soil, water, human and environmental health – and reverse the view that agriculture required high inputs and low profits.

No-drill demonstrations

The event included demonstrations from 12 direct drill companies and innovative farming machinery including the Small Robot Company. There were also interactive workshops courtesy of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

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