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Happy New Year!

Hello and a very Happy New Year to you! 

January is usually a quiet time on farms, but not at Nonington, so let’s bring you up to speed!

Rural Business Conference 2023

Our Director Emma, was invited to speak at the CLA’s National Rural Business Conference in November. Joining a panel put together by Knight Frank, she spoke about ways to get new entrants into agriculture, and the importance of ensuring that we are open to giving opportunities to the next generation and the future of farming.

Nonington Farms has plenty of experience with this, sharing the farm with new entrants and young people, and it was great to discuss these points with an audience of about 500 people. 

Emma Loder-Symonds – Director of Nonington Farms, speaking at #RBC23

Hedge Planting

Back out on the farm, the team have been busy planting hedges throughout December. Each year Nonington Farms plants around 1000m of hedges, and this year we involved local students keen on volunteering as part of their Duke of Edinburgh programme. Hedgerows have so many great benefits: they provide nature corridors and essential habitats, shelter and forage for wildlife, particularly through the winter period; are effective in reducing soil erosion and flooding; capture carbon; and they also look great! Our next stop will be hedge laying, including our first hedge laying course on the farm

Hedges planted with biodegradable tree guards.

Cover crop trial

Before Christmas, we were delighted to welcome both FWAG and Pasture for Life to the farm to discuss the impacts of mobile grazing versus set stocking, and show delegates the Southern Water/FWAG cover crop trial that we’ve been running for them this winter.

Over 70 farmers and land managers were able to see the work that we have done with FWAG in setting up the trial, and the sheep that we have been grazing across the trial during November and December. FWAG have also been measuring the impact of nitrate leeching in the soil and water at various locations across the trial site, the results of which will hopefully arrive in the spring. 

Cover crop grazing under the Southern Water nitrate reduction scheme.

The trial clearly demonstrates the benefits of introducing livestock into an arable rotation, which benefits all involved by nourishing the soil and providing a 100% pasture fed diet for the animals. Further results of this trial will be released in early February.

We were very pleased to offer a completely local menu to our visitors, with zero food miles for lunch for the visit – home-made vegetable soup, sausage rolls and carrot cake, all ingredients grown and reared on the farm.

We are carbon negative

In most recent news, we are thrilled to share that Nonington Farms is carbon negative to the tune of over 200 tonnes for the harvest year to 2023, according to the Carbon Farm Toolkit.

This digital tool measures all the inputs that we have used, all the outputs that we have made, and applies it to a model which determines how much carbon has been sequestered based on the whole farm system. Year on year we are improving how much carbon we store, so we’re delighted!

First Nonington Farms Market

First Nonington Farms market with Jack’s Veg and Oink and Udder.

A few days before Christmas, we created our first ever Nonington farm market. On sale we had local meat from Oink and Udder, an array of vegetables grown right here in Nonington by Jack Scott Vegetables and home-grown flour milled on the farm with our very own mill. It was a great success, hugely popular with locals who are keen to support local, quality produce, and hopefully the start of things to come.