Farmer Focus: Finding the right regen farming rotation

With current grain and BPS prices, is it time to cash in while the going’s good? Or cash out on experimental post-BPS farming techniques before it becomes even more financially risky post 2028?

Fortunately for me, and after much persuasion, my father agreed our business model was unsustainable and not fit for purpose.

Since then, he has released the reins and embraced my somewhat experimental farming techniques. 

About the author

Richard Harris
Richard Harris manages his family farm in partnership with his father in south Devon. Growing wheat, barley, linseed, grass and cover crops, with a small pick-your-own pumpkin patch.
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Is now the time for experimental farming? With so much out there to try, it is hard to know which way to turn.

Expand and thrive

Establishing a system to expand and thrive on must be the correct place to start. No-till? Strip-till? Min-till? Max-till? Or even organic?

For me, over the past six years we have embarked on the no-till journey which will be the platform of our farming approach going forward.

See also: How two growers are using regenerative farming to protect water

This offers and opens us up to the widest range of options and long-term benefits. Whether that be reducing capital, labour and machinery requirements or optimising the potential of carbon credit farming.

With the industry focusing virtually solely on chemistry and physics over the past 70 years, there is a very large gap in our knowledge on biology.

Not a gap I feel can be bridged overnight, or by scrolling through Twitter.

Hub of information

Fortunately, there is a growing hub of information both internally in the UK and abroad which we can tap into. That gap will be my focus over the coming years.

But for now, we have been focusing on finding a regenerative rotation that suits our location, soil type and no-till system, while incorporating livestock through winter cover crops and winter cereal grazing.

This started with a three-way rotation focusing on one autumn and two spring crops, enabling us to maximise our diverse winter cover crops and livestock integration.

We now feel soil structure and fertility have improved enough to switch to two autumn and one spring crop.

We are by no means out of the woods with this new system, but our business model seems more resilient to weather, labour requirements and economics than it used to be.

The road might be bumpy, but it’s exciting and filled with opportunities.

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