Farmer Focus: Time to start farming in harmony with nature

Hi all. This is my first column as a Farmer Focus contributor, and I hope you enjoy my thoughts and experiences during this time.

What is nature-friendly farming? For me, it is all about farming in the rhythm of Mother Nature, as I have found life is a whole lot easier if we work together. 

As farmers, we have tried the synthetic, chemical route, which resulted in our soils being low in carbon and biology.

We have become far too reliant on quick fixes from the bag/plastic container, to the detriment of the plant and our own wellbeing. 

See also: Grower’s biological farming system eliminates fungicide use

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

Our forefathers were far better farmers as they did not have the power to bully the soil into doing what they wanted; they had to become the observer and work alongside nature, not just go out and kill everything that got in their way.

We are now facing the consequences of our actions, which can be resolved if we start to address the balance of farming in harmony.

What I have found is by keeping the plant balanced with nutrition, I have stopped using insecticides for nine years, fungicides for three years, as well as growth regulators and chemical seed dressings.

I have also much reduced herbicides and nitrogen fertiliser, a process I call “intelligent farming”, because I am using the best of science to make informed decisions. 

I sap test every 10 days during the growing season to see exactly what is happening within the plant.

I want to obtain all nutrition from the soil, but unfortunately with our maritime climate, this cannot always be achieved. 

This is where I step in and do foliar applications to address the balance, which has allowed me to keep good yields without the high input costs and damage to our wonderful planet.

That journey started for me when I had a bout of anxiety/depression, which I overcame by getting nutritionally tested and addressing the imbalances.

This got me really interested in plant nutrition, which I then applied to growing crops.

We have ignored biology for too long. Last century was the chemical century, so I see this one being biological for that reason.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy new year.

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