Farmer Focus: Continuous rain and the nutrient value of food

As I write, the river is bursting its banks and we have a storm warning. It’s certainly the winter that keeps on giving.

I hope the taps do not get turned off as we go through the growing season.

So far I have applied calcium to the winter crops.  For me, calcium is the “king nutrient” and is often overlooked, or confused with pH (potential hydrogen) of the soil.

See also: Crop nutrition focus saves farmer over £43,000 on costs

About the author

Tim Parton
Tim Parton manages 300ha in South Staffordshire growing winter wheat, OSR, spring barley, beans, oats, lupins and wild flowers as part of a biological farming system. He grows cover crops and grass for haylage across sandy clay loam soils.
Read more articles by Tim Parton

Calcium is a carrier of many nutrients and is required for cell strength and cell division, without which, plants are weak and vulnerable.

The Green Farm Collective (of which I am a co-founder), recently held an inspiring workshop with Dan Kittridge of the Bionutrient Association in America, presenting research from his Bionutrient Meter, which displays the nutrient richness of food being tested. 

This study reveals food varies greatly in nutrient value depending on soil health. 

Dan explained one carrot grown in optimum growing conditions has the same nutritional value as 200 carrots grown in poor soil: a “working soil” versus “dirt”.  

Additionally, there were huge variations in nutrient values of beef on herbal leys, compared with beef on cereal-based diets. “We are what we eat” and we are also a product of what our soil and animals have eaten.

I fully expect one day to see savvy shoppers scanning their food in the supermarkets for nutrient density, making informed purchases for optimum nutrition for their family. 

In the afternoon Patrick Holford, founder of the Institute of Optimum Nutrition, spoke of the importance of the environment, providing body and plant with prime nourishment to aid flourishing health and for resisting disease.

Patrick’s programme helped me, when I had anxiety/depression, which was the catalyst for my journey into regenerative agriculture; growing plants as nature intended, replacing synthetic toxins with naturally occurring synergists.

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