Soil Health day

On Thursday 19th January Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF), Innovation for Agriculture and Action for the River Kennet (ARK) help a farmer meeting here on the farm to discuss cover crops and soil health. The day started with a quick trip around the farm to look at some of our cover crops growing in the field and to discuss our move over the last three years to a No-Till system incorporating cover crops and crop rotation changes. Seeing how soil health is starting to change and improve, with signs like worm casts increasingly obvious.
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We then moved inside, to hear about some research work being carried out by CSF into the effects of cover crops on nutrient leaching and river pollution, which is showing some expected but pleasing results. This was then followed by the main event. Stephen Briggs and Georgia Eclair-Heath from Innovation for Agriculture talking about soil health. IMG_0512
Concentrating mainly on the link between healthy soil biology, its interaction with plants and how to improve the link. Stephen who is an organic farmer and soil scientist spoke with enthusiasm and knowledge which kept 47 farmers and land managers interested and we all away with a far greater understanding of what goes on below ground in our fields, but well aware that there is so much that we do not yet know and how much more there is to understand about the world below our feet. Learning the importance of the whole “soil food web” and the likes of Mycorrhizal fungi.
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Meanwhile the sheep are still grazing cover crops, while the spring calving cows have come into the sheds ready for calving to start within the next couple of weeks.
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Starting 2017, some rebuilding to be done!

The last half of 2016 much of our non farming time was spent repairing an old barn, initially for a private party in December, but with a potential long term view of having a venue to let out for events, parties and weddings.

The work went very well, with David who has worked on the farm since 1976 doing most of the work. By 10th December the barn looked a picture, all lit up and a wonderful party was had by all until during the last song was playing at 2am when one of the heaters which had been keeping the barn brilliantly warm all night somehow caused a fire to start, everyone was quickly evacuated as the fire took hold. The fire brigade arrived in force with six engines on farm within half an hour, the fire was extinguished by 03:30, but not before all the hard work of the previous six months had be terminally undone. So 2017 has started with insurance companies visiting to sort out the aftermath, and hopefully very soon we will start the process of removing the sad remains and then the job of rebuilding can begin.
From THIS
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To THIS

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Then to THIS
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The anticipation of the next picture in this timeline is our big hope and excitement for the year ahead.