Saturday, August 24, 2019

Sold-out Groundswell event goes from strength to strength

August 8, 2019 by  
Filed under News & Business

Some 1,900 farmers attended this summer’s Groundswell show – the no-tillage and regenerative agriculture event focusing on soil health and farm resilience.

Organisers and farmers enjoyed a sold-out fourth year for growers wanting to improve their soil. Hosted by the Cherry family, the event took place on 26-27 June at Darnalls Hall Farm, Weston, near Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

The key message from this year’s show was change. With UK agriculture on the brink of the biggest shakeup for 70 years, farmers from across the country received inspiration, ideas and practical action to adapt and improve the way they manage their land.

Defra minister Robert Goodwill was given a tour of the site by host farmer Paul Cherry before joining Baroness Rosie Boycott on stage for a discussion about the government’s Agriculture Bill and its progress through parliament.

Mr Cherry said: “The government’s stated ambition for the future of food, farming and the environment is that public money will be spent on public goods that enhance natural capital. The new environmental land management scheme will usher in a new era for farming.”

Long-term support

Mr Goodwill stated the importance of ensuring long-term financial support for agri-environment schemes after the UK leaves the European Union. And he acknowledged that monthly payments for those schemes – rather than an annual payment – would aid farm cash flows.

About 10% of delegates from outside the UK – with attendees came from as far afield as Zimbabwe, Scandinavia, Lithuania, Italy and Poland. Most visitors came for both days of the show, with many camping – lending the event a festival-like atmosphere.

Host farmer John Cherry said: “Groundswell is a unique agricultural show in that you can spend a day learning the principles of regenerative agriculture, while also engaging with the organisations that can help make it a reality.

“Groundswell offers a welcoming environment for two days of information exchange with some of the world’s most experienced soil caretakers – the farmers, scientists and the organisations who all have a role in shaping the future of UK farming.”

Soil regeneration

Much of the focus was on no-till techniques, soil regeneration and the value of livestock in arable and mixed farming. Speakers, workshops and exhibitors covered a range of innovative farming companies and field-scale direct drill demonstrations.

Alongside 12 direct drill manufacturers, more than exhibitors showcased their services and products aimed at farmers with an interest in conservation agriculture. Tickets sold out two days ahead of the event.

Visitors turned to social media to give their feedback. Hertfordshire farmer Ian Pigott said: “The Cherry family have created an unbelievably brilliant, friendly, farmer led annual must do event, for four years and it improves year-on-year.”