Agroforestry and more this month on the farm
This year really has been a busy one so far and we can’t quite believe it’s already April. Where does the time go?! The weather has definitely been keeping us on our toes after a wet and very windy few weeks, and we are hoping for some drier days to come. This is what we’ve been up to this month.
We kicked the month off at Farm Expo where we spoke all about sustainable farming and preparing the farm for the future. For us, the future of farming is underpinned by our three key pillars; learn, grow, protect. This encompasses many different aspects such as soil health, social sustainability and enterprise stacking, but most of all, constantly learning and adapting on this journey. To learn more about this, Nonington Farms Owner and Director Emma, spoke about how we do this in a recent article.
Nothing says Spring quite like seeing lambs dotted around the farm and we are pleased to have welcomed our first lambs of 2023, and triplets no less!
Elsewhere on the farm, we have been trying a new form of woodland management by grazing pigs in the woodland. This is great for encouraging new growth by opening up the area and providing biodiversity benefits to the landscape. We have also been busy connecting various fields to mains water to enable the efficient incorporation of livestock back into our rotation. We have been delighted to see the benefits of conservation grazing in some of our 25-year-old wildflower meadows; dung beetles for soil health & the resident serotine bats, plus hoof marks for wildflower establishment.
Speaking of water, we had a very positive meeting with Southern Water regarding our recent N-min samples. The farm uses N-min samples to assess the soil mineralised nitrogen in January, and we use this figure to help reduce the amount of nitrogen applied. Each field is sampled and recommendations are tweaked based on each individual analysis. It will be very interesting to see how the use of sludge will perform and hopefully provide a good start to the first winter wheat.
Finally, we have started on our agroforestry journey, planting a variety of apple, pear and plum trees into a beetlebank. Agroforestry is a land management approach that combines growing trees and agricultural crops on the same piece of land, delivering a host of multiple benefits such as supporting wildlife beneficiaries and biodiversity, and improving soil and crop health. We’re looking forward to seeing how this develops, and also for some delicious home-grown fruit and cider.