John is a third generation tenant arable farmer managing approx. 239.000Ha in Mid Dorset. He grew up on the farm but then after a BSc in Maritime Studies ran away to the Navy to avoid milking duties! Later he travelled extensively as a security consultant which gave him an insight into global problems issues and solutions before realising that there is no place like home. In a period of agricultural change his primary initial role on the farm was to look for ways to diversify the business to support the families involved. This led to planting a 5,000 tree cherry orchard (agroforestry) and committing 10 years to adding value to his fruit. The organic knowledge and steep learning curve in horticulture then paved the way to take over as Managing Partner of the Business 6 years ago within the background of 10 years min till arable rotation.
6 years ago using support from Mid Tier CS and Wessex Water and other complementary systems he turned his whole farm into a giant experiment (a sort of ELMS trial) to see if Regenerative Agriculture was a viable alternative to intensive production whilst still seeing if he could grow food and energy crops more sustainably. Every week some new broad spectrum knowledge makes this process even more exciting for him and others with the passion for trying new systems. Current themes include using Soil Carbon increases to maximise Nitrogen efficiency on farm and maximising agricultural business productivity for the future whilst relay cropping using RTK guidance to No till only 50% of his soil.
Not everyone can afford direct drills but crops can be planted quickly and cheaply using homemade systems. Once your soils are biologically active a very light tilth can be achieved to deliver cover and catch and main crops with minimal vertical soil disturbance.
Mike Donovan chairs a discussion on home-made no-till drills with three farmers describing how they built their drills and talking about how well they perform
A practical demonstration showing that crops can be planted quickly and cheaply for those that cannot always afford direct drills using homemade systems. Once your soils are biologically active a very light tilth can be achieved to deliver cover and catch and main crops with minimal vertical soil disturbance.